An open space for global conversation
It's our world; when do we get our turn in running it?
Last Saturday, as I walked out of "World Government House" where I live and work in South Burlington, and climbed into my Accord to join the local Vermont group at the Burlington City Hall park supporting the now global "Occupy Wall Street" movement, I wondered what would be appropriate for me, a world citizen since 1948, to contribute in a meaningful way. Following Amy Goodman's daily "Democracy Now!" reports of the same happenings in cities around the United States and the world, I was struck by the lack of positive programs brought forth by speakers and signs. Everyone knows what we are against, but what are we for? But even more basic, who are we...together?
In my briefcase were copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, applications for registrations of world citizens, my World Government Passport and a dwindling supply of "I am a World Citizen" buttons, as giveaways, always gratefully accepted by young and old alike. Was it enough? What key element was missing? Then I had a flash of inspiration. Cities! We were all gathering in cities around the world! That's it! I remembered that almost two decades ago the Burlington City Council unanimously adopted the Resolution declaring itself a
Eureka! Jumping out of the car, I reentered World Government House, ran upstairs to my office and IMac, hit the "Q" button and typed: "World City Burlington." Up flashed the Resolution of June 20, 1992 adopted by the City Council of Burlington declaring it a "World City" following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. I quickly printed up a bunch of copies and drove down to city hall for the rally.
A few dozen people had gathered milling about some with signs "We are the 99%!" and "Down with Capitalism!" I went to the speaker area and said I had a short but relevant announcement to make. Given the no mike system, I simply announced to the crowd that the City of Burlington 19 years ago had already taken a major step required, if we, the people were to take back our planet from corporate control. I then read the opening paragraphs of the Resolution:
"WHEREAS the City of Burlington, Vermont, recognizes the greatly increased interdependence of the people of the world in this age of pollution, deforestation, natural resources depletion, overpopulation, and hunger; and WHEREAS, we seek to free humanity from the scourge of war, and to use the world's resources of energy, and knowledge for the benefit of the people; and WHEREAS, we realize that the common interests of the world's people can only be advanced through cooperative effort on a global scale, as exemplified by the recent Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro; and WHEREAS, we affirm that we can best serve our city, state and nation when we also think and act as world citizens: NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL: That the City of Burlington hereby recognizes its status as a World City BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the citizens of Burlington recognize their sovereign right to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond the boundaries of our city, state, and nation; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the citizens of Burlington are urged to pledge their efforts to the establishment of world peace, economic justice, and ecological security based on just world law..."
Burlington was not the first "World City," -- that honor goes to Cahors in central France on July 7, 1949. Since that historic moment, more than 1000 cities and towns have declared themselves World Cities including Boston, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Toronto, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Nivelles, and Konigswinter. See list at http://www.worldservice.org/mundcity.html. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundialization.
As soon as I finished, I was mobbed by people reaching for handouts of the resolution. "We are already actual citizens of planet Earth at birth." I said to one and all. "So we have a right to claim it, and to govern it. But as long as we are kept locked behind these invisible lines called nations, we are artificially divided, and senselessly war against each other. But as soon as we recognize our common human sovereignty, and realize that we are all one, all citizens of planet Earth, we gain enormous power, the power of the sovereignty of the whole. Only then can true justice and democracy prevail.
"Thomas Jefferson and America's founders," I added, "argued that corporations need to be regulated for the public good. Just as good cells in the human body, vital for our growth and well being, turn cancerous when the mechanisms of regulation fail, so corporations, can become the source of our destruction, unless we find the human power to bring them into balance and proper regulation for the common good. Our only hope of bringing them into balance is for we, the people, to take responsibility for governing our world. "It's one thing to militate about what we don't like," I concluded, "war, injustice, the failing economy, devastation of our environment--and hope someone else solves it for us. But we are the leaders we've been waiting for! We are the sovereigns, we, the people, are the ones who create governments."
I handed out the "I am a World Citizen" buttons. The kids especially love them. "Cool," they would say fastening them to their coats. "At our web site," I added, "you'll learn how you can join with your fellow humans in taking back our planet, even to setting up our own World Court of Human Rights and more. You can even download its Statute and the apps for the human rights documents we issue."
Buckminster Fuller reminded us: "If you want to change anything, don't fight the existing reality; create a new reality and you render the existing reality obsolete..." And Mahatma Gandhi wrote "Be the world you want," while Renaissance man Steve Jobs had boldly suggested: "Be the future you want." "Occupy Wall Street"? OK, but it's high time for us to take the Big Leap to land on the political space beyond so-called national frontiers.
In fact, guess what, we, humanity, are already occupying it!
For videos and more on Occupy Earth click on the youtube tab at www.onefilms.com