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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 5.17.07

A Human Race

Against time

BY BRIAN BOGART

On average in any particular year these days, some 60 wars are under way. Increasing in frequency decade by decade, U.S. forces have served in 155 conflicts abroad since World War II. Today U.S. forces occupy 735 bases abroad with 6,000 minor and major bases domestically, and the U.S. military has more than 750,000 troops abroad. For the last several years, the total U.S. defense budget has exceeded $1 trillion annually. The second largest federal expenditure is education, which received $56 billion in 2005, and less than $50 billion in 2006.

Consider these statistics showing the growth of DOD research grants to universities between fiscal years 2000 and 2006. In 2000: $4.5 billion. 2001: $6 billion. 2002: $6.7 billion. 2003: $7.6 billion. 2004: $8.2 billion. 2005: $10 billion. 2006: $12.4 billion. The number of Pentagon contracts to our schools during this period rose from 5,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2006.

The question of how best to foster a timely shift toward a peaceful human community in an age of common crisis requires an investigation of institutional barriers to such a shift and the means for rapidly transcending these barriers.

Obviously, if even a single barrier as vast as America's lucrative defense industry remains so lucrative, the crisis of global warming is likely to worsen. The likelihood is equally strong that the second superpower of global public opinion will be the only pressure powerful enough to command a policy shift from the industry of conflict and conflict preparation as America's primary economic engine to the industry of defending the essential diversity that Earth requires.

The scope of the expanding challenge posed by economic reliance on military activities conveys just how dangerously inadequate small efforts will be in finding and applying solutions to orchestrate the necessary systemic metamorphosis from such reliance to the enlightened partnership of universal life support.

 

All life in concert is Earth's natural caretaker. Humans are no more important than any other species for sustaining life on Earth. In fact, we will remain Earth's most destructive life form — and increasingly in a state of crisis — until we join other species in surrendering to the importance of total natural diversity. As our oceans rise and our climate changes, achieving this priceless diversity requires a united effort to maximize a balanced, peaceful coexistence by making closed minds the true minority and abolishing the lucrative nature of conflict.

Nature's attempt to evolve this state of one synergistic caretaker is a quest too often ignored by humans. Because our so-called "superior intelligence" has long overlooked this necessary mutuality, nature's evolutionary quest has become a human race against time as we reach thresholds threatening existence: Because we have for so long systematically disregarded other species, their race against time is also a human one.

A great opportunity for international accord and fellowship has arisen, generated by the common threat of global warming, the need for a common understanding of total diversity in the human mindset and the essentiality of global popular demand for a shift from U.S. economic dependence on conflict to human responsibility as a natural and necessary part of Earth's support system. Whether for the sake of Mother Nature, God's creation or survival, this opportunity will ultimately appeal to anyone of spirituality and everyone in general.

Among students and in religious and non-religious circles alike, global warming is a far more popular unifying cause than war. Yet, to adapt — for the power of popular demand and universal inclusion to successfully navigate this silver lining of global warming — the situation must be highly publicized through mainstream works of film, literature and personal interaction portraying the positive possibilities of unity that reveal clear choices whether to perish pursuing the profits of conflict or flourish pursuing the wisdom of peace.

Brian Bogart is a diversity scholar and the first MA candidate in Peace Studies at UO. He will be holding a lecture and discussion on these topics at 7 pm Wednesday, May 23 in 128 Chiles on campus.