Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prisoners of fear

Deepak Chopra again tries to sow wisdom where our leaders sow only fear and anxiety:

How to Feel Safe and Secure (Part 2)

" regard to terrorism, the most frightened voters are being allowed to dictate security policy. Unless you are personally anxious, you are considered unrealistic in the face of the terrorist threat, and politicians feel forced to be "strong on security," meaning that they must appeal to fear rather than to courage, patience, and trust."

Personally, I think that an empire cannot feel secure. An empire knows how much it has ... and how much it has to lose. As far back as 1948 (just after our victory in the "good war" that is currently being eulogized in a PBS series), George Kennan, head of the State Dept. planning staff, predicted that the U.S. would soon become "the object of envy and resentment" because it had "about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population." In 2004, the U.S. United States accounted for 4.6 percent of the world's population and 33 percent of global consumption (see As Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer explains in his book Brave New World Order:

"The goal of the United States in the emerging world order, Kennan stated, was 'to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.' In order to maintain this disparity and defend U.S. national security, the United States had "to cease to talk about vague and ...unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization.' Instead, he noted, the United States had "to deal in straight power concepts.' "

Thus did realpolitik, rather than an ethic of cooperation and sharing, become the foundation of our country's foreign policy.

That was back in 1948. Since then those who formulate our country's foreign policy have become more talented in talking a talk of "human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization," while clandestinely setting up a system that benefits us first and others second. And often those "others" have been the less humane and democratic elements of the countries we deal with.

To get back to Deepak, it is a simple matter to understand why it is so hard for those who lead us and for those who follow them to practice the detachment that he suggests, the kind that "brings a stable sense of self that isn't prey to the wild mood swings of current events," let alone the empathy and compassion that reach out to a world of such glaring disparity. Our national leaders are prisoners of their own blind greed for power and they stay in power by keeping the empire's citizens shackled in fear. We citizens do little to help lower our own anxiety level by buying into (literally) a culture of rampant consumerism.

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