The Only Way to Save the World is to Unite the World
Glen T. Martin
Around the world, some popular movements are looking for authoritarian solutions to the immense problems facing humanity. In Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia, movements have arisen that emphasize racial, religious, or sectarian discrimination of one group against another and that appeal to authoritarian leaders to address fundamental problems. In the United States, the mantra of one major group appealing to authoritarian leadership under Donald Trump is “Make America Great Again (MAGA).”
However, you make one nation “great” only at the expense of others. You make that nation more powerful, more wealthy, more feared or respected internationally than others. These initiatives violate the very essence of human civilizational life on planet Earth in which the goal is genuine unity in diversity. The goal, articulated in one way or another by each of the great world religions, is coherence, harmony, with one’s neighbors and with humankind.
Many thinkers in the modern world, from Hegel to Habermas, have pointed out that the sense of “I”, the sense of being a separate unique, integral human consciousness, only arises through our encounter with the “thou,” that is, with others. The society of human beings and the individuality of each of us form an inseparable reality and bond. Mystics of all ages have spoken of the paradoxical inter-penetration of the one and the many: the world is composed of many individual things that are simultaneously one. Buddhism speaks of pratītya-samutpāda, the interdependent co-origination of all things.
Phenomenologically, I understand myself as a unique center of being in which the ultimate mystery of the ground of Being reveals itself in direct primordial experience as the “I am” awareness of immediate consciousness. But I realize that the world is a multiplicity of immediate consciousnesses experiencing this “I am.” I realize that my own awareness emerged only through the community, through the encounter with others in which the simple awareness of the infant grows through this encounter into the sense of “I am” that becomes inseparable from the realization that “thou art.” “I and thou” becomes the reality within which we live.
The world is a vast multiplicity of “I am” awareness centers that could not exist as their unique “I am” without the community of humanity. The unity of the human community and the multiplicity of “I am” centers arise in mutual interdependence and coherence, in interdependent co-origination. When we understand the depths of a human being that go beyond being a mere physical “thing” that is part of the objective world of things, then we begin to think in terms of human rights and duties (that is, in terms of the moral dimension). There is something unique about being human possessed by no other creature that we know of. A tree is a living unique object in the world around us, yet the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not apply to trees. This is the meaning of our unique human dignity.
It has been shown repeatedly that all the great world religions have some form of the golden rule that gives a basic account of the “I-thou” relation: do unto others what you would have them do unto you and don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you. The “I-thou” relation is primordial in this way. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with the ringing words: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” With every right there arises corresponding duties of the moral dimension. We are all morally responsible to one another. Every “I” is responsible to every “thou.” Universal recognition of this reality is the foundation of good law.
Human beings comprise a multiplicity of “I am” centers of awareness living within a planetary community in which each center has rights and duties with respect to all the rest. Unity in diversity, universal coherence and harmony, form the most fundamental imperatives of our human situation. But all the great religions in one way or another go beyond this to a relation of love or compassion (agape in Christianity, karuna in Buddhism). The agape of God, according to the Gospel of Matthew, is “like the sun and the rain” it falls equally on the just and the unjust. With this non-discriminatory love we have moved beyond rights and duties to the deeper being of “we.” The imperative is that we love one another in this indiscriminate way just as God’s love flows on humanity equally “like the sun and the rain.”
World renowned evolutionary thinker Teilhard de Chardin expresses this as follows:
Only love can bring individual beings to their perfect completion, as individuals, by uniting them with one another, because only love takes possession of them and unites them by what lies deepest within them…. Humanity, the spirit of the earth, the synthesis of individuals and peoples, the paradoxical conciliation of the element with the whole, of the one with the many…what more need we do than imagine our power of love growing and broadening till it can embrace the totality of men and the earth? (1969, 145).
The imperative of human existence is to affirm and to live in terms of the “we,” and the “we” is everyone, all the “I am” centers that make up human existence within our planetary home. We can only bring ourselves and our human community to “complete perfection” in this way. The reality of our situation is the “we,” the paradoxical reality of unity in diversity fully and simultaneously. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth recognizes this reality of the “we” and its profound implications in its Preamble:
Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.
The Earth Constitution is the “basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail.” Those who drafted the Constitution understood the reality of the “we” and the implications of living according to that reality: “war shall be outlawed and peace prevail.” The next paragraph of the Preamble speaks of the “inescapable reality that the greatest hope for the survival of life on earth is the establishment of democratic world government.” We will not likely survive under the present system, and our greatest hope is to become a genuine “we,” ascending to our true unity under the Earth Constitution. Without the Earth Constitution we have little hope. Why is this so?
Perhaps all nations in history have been founded on the principle of territory: “This is my territory, and these are my boundaries.” Nearly all economic systems in history are founded on absolute ownership: “This is my land, my wealth, my property.” Such systems of exclusivity militate against the oneness of humanity, against the unity in diversity that animates the profound reality of “we.” These systems of exclusivity drag human consciousness down into the awful chaos of war, violence, hate, fear, and hunger.
These systems cannot but violate human dignity because they are founded on inflexible exclusivity. If protecting my territory comes first, then your dignity and human rights come second. If protecting my wealth comes first than your hunger and misery come second (see Donnally 2003). Only planetary unity in diversity can give us the peace, justice, and sustainability for which we long.
The Earth Constitution founds democratic planetary governance on universal unity of the “I” and the “thou,” on the dignity of humanity and the sacred holism of the natural world. If you begin with absolute national territories, you cannot but lose the whole. If you begin with absolute private property, you will lose not only the whole but also your own humanity. All the world’s great religions have affirmed human dignity. All the world’s great secular humanist teachers have also affirmed human dignity and natural human rights. But neither the nation-states nor the regime of private wealth accumulation can put human dignity first.
For human beings to come into an era of their dignity and fulfilment, in harmony with the cosmic ground of unity in diversity, they must place territory and property second to a true universal community based on human dignity, on universal human rights and responsibilities. That is the significance of the Earth Constitution: we come together to further the regime of human dignity. We do not abolish the nations or the regime of fair trade and wealth but, with the Earth Constitution, we place these second to human dignity—to our universal human rights to peace, security, and environmental integrity.
That is why the Earth Constitution is not more of the same. It is a truly revolutionary actualization of our fundamental humanity, the being of the “we.” It does not abolish the nations but makes their sovereignty relative to their territory (as defined for the Earth Federation under world laws) and retains the sovereignty of the whole for the people of Earth. It does not abolish private property but makes its legal status subsidiary to the common good of the people of Earth. In my recent podcast with Professor Rashid Shaz, a major voice in contemporary Islam, Professor Shaz affirmed that the Quran was about the “common good” for all humanity, and the movement to democratic world government under the Earth Constitution was fully consistent with the Quran (https://sacredstories.com/islam-global-crisis-and-the-earth-constitution-with-dr-rashid-shaz/)
As I have often said: “Democratic world law is the 21st century form of love.” The unity and diversity of the whole of humanity on which the Earth Constitution is founded is the application of love governing everywhere on Earth. Today, nearly all governing is about power and wealth. Our WCPA Distinguished Advisor Swami Agnivesh declared rightly that “the love of power must be replaced by the power of love.” The Earth Constitution gives power to the “we.” It recognizes the sovereignty of humanity and bases democratic world law on the common good of the whole. As Teilhard de Chardin affirms above: “only love can bring individual beings to their perfect completion, as individuals, by uniting them with one another.” Our own inner perfection and that of humanity arise together through love and through democratic world law based on the complete human community.
Ratification of the Earth Constitution is a work of love and the Constitution itself is an embodiment of love. It recognizes the reality of the “we,” more fundamental than the so-called absolute sovereignty of nation-states and the absolute right to unlimited accumulation of private wealth. This December 10-12, 2021, we are holding the 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament under the authority of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution. Anyone who has signed the Earth Constitution can register as a delegate, either on-line or in person. You can register at www.wcpa.global and sign the Earth Constitution at www.earthconstitution.world. To participate in the Provisional World Parliament and the work to ratify the Earth Constitution is indeed a major work of love.
Donnelly, Jack (2003). Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Second Edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Frank, S.L. (2020). The Unknowable: An Ontological Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Trans. Boris Jakim. Brooklyn: Angelico Press.
Teilhard de Charin, Pierre (1969). Hymn of the Universe. New York: Harper Colophon Books.