Imagine a successful movement to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Earth Charter through a global referendum. This would establish that the will of the people as expressed through a global referendum was the highest expression of political power on the planet, and would give the principles of those documents the force of supreme law for humanity.
Of course, the highest political power does not mean the highest absolute power. Simply ordering the planet to stop warming while continuing to increase the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases would likely be met with as little success as King Canute's order for the incoming tide to stop before the water reached his feet.
It is possible that the biggest change in the structure of power that would result from a global referendum would be found in the brains of the billions of people who participated, through the experience of deliberating on and discussing together the basic principles which should rule our lives, and through the expectations that would be raised concerning the behavior that would realize those principles. This change in the patterns and pathways within the brains of billions of people could be a very powerful change indeed.
What next? What would be a next reasonable step to take to build on this achievement? Perhaps the next step would be to develop and approve through a global referendum a plan for worldwide demilitarization.
What would such a plan look like?
In the interests of long-term food security, there should be a plan for the transition from industrial-chemical agriculture to local, organic farming. Since organic farming is relatively labor intensive, this could be a good way to re-employ a lot of young people with strong backs who are currently serving in the armed forces.
There should be a plan for the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Recent, remarkable reductions in the costs of renewables make this much more feasible than even ten years ago. This will be a major undertaking, and will be another good way to re-employ many people who are presently serving in the armed forces or in weapons manufacturing.
Those are just a couple of examples of pieces of a larger plan for world peace that would include: water conservation, birth control, management of fisheries, and so on, all of which require commitment and implementation from the local to the global level. Anything that happens anywhere on planet Earth affects all of us.
The process is as important as the plan, and in fact is inseparable from it. It requires input from people who are most knowledgeable about organic farming, and have demonstrated this knowledge through their successful farming practices. It requires input from people who are most knowledgeable about the various forms of renewable energy, and which forms are most appropriate in specific locations. The plan will only succeed to the extent that it is guided by those who are most knowledgeable in those and all of the other domains: water conservation, birth control, fishery management, mass transit, energy efficient buildings, advanced batteries, and so on.
To accelerate the implementation of the plan, another part of the process might include asking people who are currently serving in the armed forces or in weapons manufacturing to express a preference for an alternative field of employment such as organic farming, installing solar panels, manufacturing vehicles for mass transit, and so on. To the extent that each individual can see how the plan will affect them in a positive way, the plan is more likely to be approved and implemented.
The first word in this article is "imagine." As far we we know, this is a uniquely human ability, at least to the extent that humans do it. We can visualize various possibilities, weighing the potential outcomes before acting, discarding those paths that seem to be disadvantageous, and choosing the paths that are most likely to lead to success and happiness. The more people who join in imagining and sharing ideas, the more likely that success and happiness for everyone will be the outcome. A global referendum is the way.
What are we waiting for?
May 30, 2015