I was in the 10th grade in the mid-1960s, a time when everyone was worried about American and Russian nuclear weapons that were powerful enough to destroy life on Earth many times over.*
The USA and the USSR hated each other, they had thousands of bombs and warheads aimed at each other, and if either of them was crazy enough to throw the first atomic punch… свидания человечество ! Good-bye, mankind!
There didn’t seem to be any way to end the stand-off, and it eventually became apparent that hiding under our school desks was not really a solution.
In Civics class 1965 we were learning all about America’s capitalist democracy and comparing it to all the other (the implication here being inferior) forms of government. While the FLAG-waving gene was being fed and exercised inside all of us kids in the classroom, I’d wake up at strange hours of the night thinking about world peace and a brand-new form of government… a compromise between capitalism and communism… taking democracy’s innovation and vitality from the right of the political spectrum, and combining that with socialism’s equality and fairness from the left. The notion gave me a warm feeling inside. It kept nagging at me, and it just felt right. Joining the left hand with the right hand. East meets West. Brilliant! (I wasn’t yet aware that social democracy had already been evolving toward that sort of hybrid economy in Europe for more than a century and was already underway here in the States since the Great Depression of the 1930s.)
I was a shy kid, but when I finally got up the nerve one afternoon to share that idea during a class discussion… the idea of marrying socialism with democracy to end the Cold War… the civics teacher rolled her eyes, muttered something about my dad being a communist, and moved on quickly to examine the next article of the US Constitution.
Hey, my dad wasn’t a communist, he was a newspaperman. And a registered Republican. Sure, his weekly editorials sometimes leaned a little to the left and caused a stir among the farmers and businessmen in and around town… but a communist? No way. Should I speak up? Argue with the teacher (who was, by the way, a wife of one of those conservative farmers)? Well, I chose a more, um, metaphysical approach. I closely inspected the top of my desk… as though searching for answers to the meaning of life.
It may have been my early exposure to mixed political views that gave me a taste for social democracy… but I think it was really something deeper. Part of my soul purpose. A restless compulsion to figure out the best qualities of mankind and ways to implement them in society.
I became preoccupied with peace and how to perpetuate it.
So, in the 1980s, after a year of college and a stint in the Navy, I started contacting bright people from around the world and weaving their ideas into books about world peace.
So, the point of all this?
I’ve been studying the world and its problems and trying to find the best solutions for the past thirty years, and over time I’ve boiled it all down into three sweeping solutions that, I believe, would be most effective in bringing peace and contentment to the world today.
There’s a solution for the planetary level, one for the national level, and one for individuals.
Global Solution: World Government
If there’s one thing that popular world history has shown very clearly, it’s that people are more peaceful and cooperative when they’re part of the same group… and groups are more peaceful with each other when they’re part of the same umbrella group.
Why? Because members of a group share standards and values. Through membership they adopt those shared values and become more compatible.
So, there’s one solution above all others for maximizing peace among nations and religions and multinational corporations of the world: A well-planned, well-run world government that draws them all under an umbrella of shared standards and values.
The challenge is to implement worldwide freedom within the limits of a basic set of standards and values that safeguard, for example, the environment and the poor.
The United Nations today is not a world government, not even close. It’s more of an international sounding board… an extremely crucial sounding board that has helped in wonderful ways to foster unity and peace in the world… but it’s not enough. It should be legitimized as a world government and given the appropriate authority.
Meanwhile, humanity consists of some 200 nations, each more or less independent and mistrustful of each other, and so the second sweeping solution is geared for nations.
National Solution: Basic Income
Provide basic income to every adult citizen of every nation that can afford it.
What’s basic income?
It’s a stipend paid to citizens on a regular basis. In the USA, for example, it could be a payment of $1,000 a month to every adult citizen. That means, just by being an adult American you would receive (from the government, tax-free, no-strings-attached) $12,000 a year.
What nations can afford it?
In loose terms, any modern nation with a sound economy could afford basic income. It would simply take government money from social programs and elsewhere, and give it to the basic income program. Each nation would have to figure out the details based on its unique economy and national budget.
The USA, for example, could solve its most pressing economic problems quickly, just by implementing basic income coupled with a wealth tax. Those two programs, working together, would narrow the huge chasm between rich and poor, and reduce the need for expensive social “safety-net” programs to protect the growing ranks of poor. Wealth tax (say, 3 percent tax per year on everyone’s total assets) would narrow the chasm… and basic income ($1,000 a month) would replace most government aid and welfare programs. As long as everyone’s paying a wealth tax, you could also eliminate or greatly reduce taxes on income, capital gains, and so on.
What nations canNOT afford a basic income program?
Again, in loose terms, any nation with a struggling economy would be challenged to implement basic income.
In particular, it wouldn’t work in a country with a high fertility rate… which is an almost certain formula for disaster in today’s world of 7 billion people. Nations with a 5+ fertility rate (the average woman bears 5 or more children in her lifetime) are contending with famine, plague, war, mass execution, and other severe symptoms of overpopulation.
To solve most of the economic and social problems that plague nations today, every nation would get its economy in good enough shape to support a basic income program, then implement the program.
Personal Solution: The Oneness Within
Along with the pleasures, rewards, and loving relationships of this world, most of us also experience a fair amount of pain and suffering. Conflict, loss, failure, rejection, addiction, injury and disease… such things cannot be avoided on Earth.
True and lasting peace simply cannot be attained by anyone living in this noble-savage world. It’s like sailing a ship on a sea that’s sometimes calm, sometimes stormy.
The key, then, is to drop anchor in a safe harbor while the storm rages around us.
The only reliable harbor I’ve found during life’s storms is to acknowledge, deep down, that
- The storm is only an illusion just like everything else on Earth is an illusion,
- The only reality is an invisible, omnipresent, all-powerful force at the center of everything,
- The storm is beyond my control and understanding, but everything is part of the omnipresent plan,
- I can turn my troubles and my life over to that omnipresent, all-powerful force at any time.
- The more often I do that, the more inner peace I have in my life.
Those five principles can provide (arguably, perhaps) the best possible peace and safety during the inevitable upheavals of life on Earth. They provide the foundation for spiritual development.
And the best way I’ve found to achieve that is to carry those principles along with me into a meditation.
So, maximizing peace and well-being on this noble-savage Earth will involve changes at many levels of humanity.
The three changes I’ve outlined here, at the global, national, and personal levels, would probably be a very good place to start.
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*It’s doubtful that nukes were ever powerful enough to destroy life on Earth… but even a few nuclear explosions in cities would cause massive damage, kill millions, and make life miserable for millions more.