Saturday, July 31, 2010

Missing July but Finding My Way

July almost escaped me entirely without even a single blog post. It's been such a high speed, world traveling month for me that writing has been mostly of the private note-taking variety in hopes that I might sort it all out later and make some sense, or better yet, some use of it all. I attended the International Peace Research Association, IPRA, conference early this month in Sydney Australia. It was my first time in the Southern hemisphere, and my first time mingling in the international peace community. Both firsts were expansive and exhilarating for me.

Elise Boulding was one of the founders of the field of Peace Research and of IPRA. She passed away June 24th after an amazing life brimming with contributions to our understanding of ourselves and how relate with one another. I'd heard of her through many friends and colleagues. She was one of the first financial contributors to Nonviolent Peaceforce, and the inspiration to many of the original founders and supporters. The more I learn of her the more I continue to feel her hand changing my life's trajectory. I'd all but given up on getting a PhD, but when I learned she received hers at age 50, I realized I too might be able to do it. Who knows, I might even finish by age 50. The global reach of her work has further erased borders from my imagination. I hope to work in a global capacity, raising my little wonder girl to see the world as one large home with plenty of room and food for all. Looking at pictures of Elise, her sparkling eyes and warm smile convinced me to dust off the feminist hat and fit it squarely and proudly back on my head. Women and children are key to opening the doors of peace in this world.

As I began to consider various career paths from here, I found myself perusing the classes being offered at Portland State University this Fall. As I scrolled through the Psychology I notice the class, "psychology of women" and I had to wonder why we need to study that and not the "psychology of man", which wasn't listed. It seems to me that it's the abnormal psychology of man that has put us on the brink of extinction. If we could get some better understanding of that psychology we just might be able to save ourselves. I suspect that this class was designed by men for men - feels very Fruedian.

There was no point to that last paragraph, just an amusing aside as I ponder this passing month. I try to find the unifying theory of my lifeline. I still love technology, discovery, science, both social and physical, and I can only wonder at where all these passions will lead me as they churn and swirl around with peace and social justice issues in a world gone mad with war and the suffering it brings. I wonder if humans can learn to enjoy the benefits of technology without destroying each other and the planet in the process. What a terrible shame if we can't. Our entire food system, and likewise our health, has been ruined by the technicians approach to raising crops and animals. Now our food poisons us, millions of animals live in misery without ever seeing the sun or touching grass only to die at the hands of a frustrated and under paid immigrant trying to make his own way in life by taking this dangerous unwanted work. Technology at it's absolute most evil sees its anniversary in a week, the dropping of the first atomic bomb. August 6th, 1945,  America dropped the bomb, instantly killing over 100,000 human beings and slowly killing in excruciating pain another 100,000 in the days following.  If you haven't read John Hersey's account of that terrible event, you must.  That day, 65 years ago, Americans danced and celebrated in the streets. The day the Twin Towers fell in Manhattan, Muslim fundamentalists and others wounded by America's policies and actions abroad, danced and celebrated in the streets. We do unto others as they do unto us, over and over again in a retributive dance of death. And now technology makes it all the easier.   We can watch each other die and dance on YouTube, or get instant messages and Tweets as events unfold for our brothers and sisters.  And it also allows me to sit here and ramble on in this public forum or to say "I'm sorry" for America's horrible sins against humanity.

Each public event I attended in Sydney was started with solemn recognition of the First People of the area, the aboriginal tribe who had once lived on that land.  There was even a public apology from the white community to the aboriginal community for the missing generations, including a march that filled the Harbour Bridge with apologetic people.  The first event was followed by an annual "Sorry Day".  It will take a long time to restore the dignity to the First People just as it will for the First Nations here in America.  We haven't even begun the process of healing in America.  White America has never offered an apology to the African Americans or the First Nations, much less offered any reparation to ease the hardships faced by over a century of subjugation, abuse and treaty violations.  I for one am very sorry and will continue to work for an equal and just world. 

Communication is another key to unlocking the puzzle of peace in this world. I met Birgit Brock-Utne in Sydney. She was friends with Elise and has been a global researcher since the beginning of IPRA. She's studying the relationship between security and language. She's also looking at how histories are being rewritten with the radical changes taking place in South Africa. Language, communication, technology, dignity, respect, indigenous wisdom, equality, women, children...these are the rubrics of change that we must strive to satisfy. Somewhere in this matrix I will find my way. We must learn to bridge the barriers of culture, gender, language in order to build a better world for all our children and their great great grand children. Let's not allow the human race to end with us just because of some abnormal male psychology that we forgot to study before it was too late.