Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Nonkilling Vision

Book Review

Nonkilling Security and The State (May 2013; 426 pp), edited by Joam Evans Pim, The Center for Global Nonkilling. Download this free e-book.

This is a collection of 19 essays by 22 scholars of anthropology, sociology, political science, philosophy, and history who explain how we need not stand as spectators as in a killing world. From the folly of destruction over the centuries, we must now turn our attention to the means of preventing that destruction. Dr. Younger emphasizes that today: 'There is no more important problem. None' (1).

The collective wisdom of these scholars should be used by governments in building nonkilling institutions such as the cabinet level Department of Peace; building security without deadly violence; developing nonlethal technology in international security; tackling the sensitive issue of nuclear weapons and a nonkilling world; discovering nonmilitarization and countries without armies; diplomacy in the service of nonkilling objectives; Islam and the West; looking at nonkilling approaches to the politics of self-determination; exploring reverence for life and reverence for death; and creating political conscience for future generations.

Below are some of the learning points that I discovered in my reading:
  • We have a responsibility to act and preserve our civilization from the threat of omnicide, as posed by the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). (2). 'Never Again' ought to be our mantra. We need to awaken humanity to our ever present threat if we continue with the old ways of relying on the power of lethal force.
  • 'Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of terrorism.' They are weapons of mass annihilation! (3).
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is 'the price of war' (4). By getting rid of wars, we get rid of much of our PTSD.
  • Albert Schweitzer spoke of the decay of civilization due to the lack of ethical ideals and ethical energy. He proposed the ethics of reverence for human life (5) and urged us to revere 'Thou shalt not kill' and recognize that love is 'the most important force in the universe'.
  • Cooperation and 'win-win' scenarios are urgent models needed in the current crisis in the Middle East (6). The intent is to mobilize appropriate collective action in which we all win.
  • There are upsides and downsides of globalization (7). The Western principle of materialism tends of devalue human worth. Homogenization of cultures tends to exploit the vulnerable. Increasing inequalities both within and between nations (in regards to standards of living, rights and security) may not be conducive to the maintenance of human rights. We need to revise our attitude to materialism and make it accountable to human needs.
  • Implementing major change in society requires 'conscience, compassion, courage, cooperation, creativity and commitment' (8). That's quite an awesome package of value-laden energy which deserves our effort to ensure that we all walk our talk!
  • Robert Muller (1923-2010), former UN Assistant-Secretary-General, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Peace in demilitarized Costa Rica, had the last words in the Epilogue:  'The time has come to start anew history....We must establish reverence for life as the cornerstone of civilization: reverence for life not only by individuals, but also by institutions, foremost among them nations. Institutions were created originally for the good and survival of the people. This is their main justification and merit. They have no right to kill or to develop and stockpile incredible arsenals of weapons meant to kill millions of people, possibly all humanity. And the same nations come to the UN and dare to speak about human rights!  Do these include the right to life and the right not to kill? Perhaps if we approach the question of disarmament from the fundamental principle of reverence for life, we might achieve better progress....As we approach the new global age of humanity, we must unequivocally proclaim and enforce this fundamental, sacred and inalienable right and obligation of all human beings on our planet: THOU SHALT NOT KILL, NOT EVEN IN THE NAME OF A NATION' (9).
Peace movements can benefit from this book in finding a practical, unique and visionary path in their role as bridge-builders and peace-makers. Instructors at all levels can benefit in finding important teaching points in cooperation, conflict resolution, and the role of love in building a peaceful world. The community and the family can benefit in helping to build a nonkilling society. Nonkilling is a measure of progress of our civilization. To achieve our common goals, we need to exercise our imagination in the spirit of humanity (10).

  1. Foreward, by Stephen M. Younger, Former Head of Nuclear Weapons Research and Development, Los Alamos National Laboratory, page 14.
  2. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 246.
  3. ibid, page 249.
  4. Reverence for Life and Reverence for Death, Predrag Cicovacki, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester; YaHui Luo, Shaanxi Normal University, page 261.
  5. ibid, page 268.
  6. Diplomacy in the Service of Nonkilling Objectives: The Imperative for a US-Iran Rapprochement. by Ali R. Abootalebi and Stephen Hill, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, page 316.
  7. Islam and the West: The Possibility of a Nonkilling Future, by Deanna Iribarnegaray and Bert Jenkins, University of New England, pages 326-328.
  8. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 254.
  9. The Right Not to Kill, by Robert Muller (1923-2010), Former UN Assistant-Secretary-General Chancellor Emeritus, University for Peace (Republished from New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality. Ardsley-on-Hudson: World Happiness and Cooperation, 1989 [1982], pp. 72-73), page 419-420.
  10. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 255.

1 comment:

  1. The July 2013 shooting death by Toronto, Ontario police of an 18-year-old teenager Sammy Yatim should be a wake-up call for renewed attention to Glenn Paige's 'transition to completely nonkilling security conditions'. There is a video on You Tube showing this shocking tragedy of a teenager being shot nine times because he was holding a three-inch knife on a streetcar. Nonlethal weapons are available as well as common sense persuasive techniques of gaining rapport and trouble solving. Police urgently need to learn to use these humane technologies by reading this book and generally adopting a nonkilling stance to their work.