I believe the shift in our name to "Global" Renaissance Alliance is more than a name change. It points to one of our primary MISSIONS: to help humanity shift from a primary identification with the nation-state to our connection with all humanity and indeed, life itself.
One of the key differences between SPIRITUAL and today's electoral politics is that the latter divides us, while the former - at its best - brings us together. Spiritual politics focuses on SPIRIT - what we have in common with our fellow humans of different races, genders, political parties or nations. While it has always been desirable for humans to focus on what they have in commmon, however, it is now also NECESSARY.
If the 21st century is to see a reduction in war and threats to the biosphere, a necessary prerequisite will be a consciousness shift that sees humans connect and identify more with each other than their nation-states, though national sub-identities still can and should give richness and meaning to life.
Nationalism was largely a positive force in earlier centuries, serving as a vehicle for uniting people beyond tribal identities and decaying monarchies. In our century, however, identification with the nation-state, tribe or sub group as immortality vehicles has been a prime cause of two world wars and some of the most horrifying slaughters of civilians in all history: Turk vs. Armenian, German vs. Jew, American vs. Vietnamese, Hutu vs. Watusi, Khmer Rouge vs. "westernized Cambodians", Sudanese Muslims vs. Christians, Serbs vs. Croatians, Bosnians, and Albanians.
Nationalism is also at the root of our biospheric crisis. U.S. politicians who feel they answer only to their domestic constituencies are the single biggest obstacle to combatting global warming, biodiversity loss and the many other dangers which make us the single greatest threat facing our own grandchildren and descendants.The need to pander to money and the stock market creates disenfranchisement with the ordinary people
From this perspective, the Global Renaissance Alliance clearly has a mission to help humanity accelerate a shift toward global consciousness that has already begun.
Vaclav Havel makes this point well when he says, "the glory of the nation state as every national community's highest early value - the only one, in fact, in the name of which it is permissible to kill, or for which people have been expected to die - has already passed its peak ... human beings are more important than the state. In this new world, people - regardless of borders - are connected in millions of different ways ... Clearly, a blind love for one's country has necessarily become a dangerous anachronosm, a source of conflict and, in extreme cases of immense human suffering. In the next century I believe that most states will begin to change from cultlike entities into less powerful and more rational administrative units that will represent only one of the many complex and multileveled ways in which our planetary society is organized." (from a recent speech to the Canadian Parliament, reprinted in the June 10, 1999, N.Y. Review of Books.)
Ne goes even further her in Book II of Conversations With God, in which a world government - with one executive, legislative, judiciary and army - is called for. We are duty-bound to protest the use of NATO violence in Kosovo that violated the laws of war. In doing so, however, we must not lose sight of the important watershed that occurred there: for the first time this century military intervention was PRIMARILY justified on the grounds of stopping crimes against humanity rather than national interest. For the first time, world leaders said that humanitarian law trumps national sovereignty law. For the first time humanity said that it actually matters when helpless civilians are slaughtered and raped and devastated by cowards masquerading as soldiers, police and "paramilitary" units.
It is clear that keeping to these precedents will be literally matters of life and death to many millions more in coming decades.
For this to happen, the Global Renaissance Alliance and many others of good faith must take on the mission of ensuring that this precedent is not forgotten the next time the innocent are threatened.
Of course, as an organization, we are divided on the use of force itself. But we can at least agree on the need to accelerate a growth in global consciousness that no longer allows us to watch helplessly as criminal madmen slaughter innocents too weak fight back on the grounds that "it does not affect our national interest." And we can perhaps demand that our leaders do more to PREVENT conflicts through the PROACTIVE use of diplomacy, economic carrots and sticks, conflict resolution, democracy-building and, if all else fails, threats of force that will hopefully not have to be used.
And we certainly can agree on the need to foster both global AND generational consciousness if we are to save the biosphere. Issues like global warming or biodiversity loss can not only not be solved through nationalistic thinking. Primary identification with the nation-state helps CAUSE biospheric degradation.
This shift to global consciousness seems inevitable. Just as the Civil War marked a shift from America's primary identification with a state or region to a national identification, World War II marked the beginning of a new era of global connection is really troubling. Just as increasing numbers of Europeans are today identifying more with Europe than their own sub-groups, humanity will inevitably come to identify more with their species than nation-states.
The question now is whether this inevitable shift will occur fast enough to prevent future genocides, crimes against humanity, and irreparable biospheric destruction.
In saying that we are now the GLOBAL Renaissance Alliance, we are also saying that our consciousness too has begun to shift - and to invite others to think this way as well.
Fred Branfman seeks to live in the Mystery through meditation and engaging his own feelings about death. Currently, he assists The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation with internet strategy and is developing both the For Generations To Come and Gifts of Death Awareness projects. Prior to beginning a spiritual journey in 1990, Fred spent 25 years in politics on issues such as exposing the U.S. secret air war against Laos, promoting solar energy, the information revolution and investment in people with Tom Hayden, Jerry Brown, Gary Hart and with Rebuild America."