“…Citizens seeking to introduce changes in the form of their government, whether in favor of liberty or despotism, ought to consider what materials they have to deal with and then judge of the difficulty of their task. For it is no less arduous and dangerous to attempt to free a people disposed to live in servitude, than to enslave a people who [opt] to live free.” Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourse on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Ninian Hill Thomson, Trans., Kegan, Trench & Co., London, 1883, p. 376.
Me, I’m just a cheap, craven stay-at-home (thus no sainthood claimed here!). My sole intention, in writing Learner, has been to catalyze a more livable world into which we could reincarnate. There’s no way to predict how the world will turn out in one’s absence. But flying blind, it seems that PeaceWorld might offer a better alternative.
As I review this text, its cosmic presumption stuns me. No special privilege entitles me to claim your attention; no lofty reputation, mighty patronage, personal charisma, business savvy, saintly complacency, public or private ambition, or literary merit. When I find decent work, I’m just a clerk and a distracted one at that.
Nonetheless, I must claim your consideration here. No-one bothered to take up this essential task, so I felt myself compelled to do so. This book may be the most important text you read; that’s up to you and your fondness for the status quo.
I stayed up late reviewing endless do-overs of the same botched political experiments and muttering, “At least one of these ought to have worked out to spec!”
I still dare hope. Learners make up a Nation among the nations, a state of being within the State. In our own quiet way, once properly inspired, we will call upon enough talent and initiative to tackle any challenge. Once we Learners find one another in the dark, realize how numerous we are and the sway we hold over the world; once we rally around those ideas, we will be unstoppable and destined for glory. It will not matter how wretched human isolates may be with their sterile pecking orders or how much work we will require to restore things. Every deadly combat in the past will have prepared us for this masterwork of peace revival and its global struggle for existential survival.
Aghast, I understood King Ashoka’s torment. Standing back-to-back in this carnage of our own making, we could neither avoid our complicity in this disgrace nor stand idly by. We had to do something: reach out for the big brass ring dangling just beyond our wildest dreams; blow the doors off our fragile confidence, competence and self-worth; risk everything to reduce the robotic atrocity of the human condition.
Learner isn’t engraved in stone. Dedicated specialists, both amateur and professional, should chew over its assumptions. Their debate may conjure a brilliant Learner Commonwealth whose new mantra would be, “What if the sky were the limit?”
Every cubic yard of earth, air, water and vacuum may hold all the energy in the Universe (minus 1?). Will we become clever enough to reach into this vacuum fire and warm our hands in it, yet not burn our fingertips or the world? Or will we remain parched and starving stumblebums wandering across a desert while untold abundance lies locked away below our feet?
We are sitting down together to share a giant, super-deluxe pizza. It stretches out to the horizon and beyond to infinity. It is covered with mounds of perfect vegetables, creamy cheese, aromatics and deli delicacies: the trimmings of the finest pizza. This pie has got college degrees, fair housing and low infant mortality; enough abundance, justice and serenity for everyone; anything we could ask for and more of it than we could find use for.
Too bad we only see down a one-degree slice of this pie, the sorriest of slices, unbelievably distasteful. It’s been combed over at sword-point for millennia, stripped bare, burnt down to charcoal and saturated with poverty, fear and suffering. Across it, starving children cower in stoic tears in bunkers, hovels and refugee dumps: poster children of our failure and guilt. That’s all we can see: this WeaponWorld of ours, the napalm-blackened crust of a burnt-out world. Starving for something finer, we scramble after its crumbs with microscopic compulsion.
The infinite leftover heaping with untouched goodies? It is beyond view as far as we’re concerned. The other 359 degrees of this cosmic pizza have been walled-off by long-revered cultural blinkers. They have screened us off at birth from PeaceWorld in favor of WeaponWorld, more and more relentlessly as we’ve grown older. Thus we’ve dismissed the potential abundance of PeaceWorld as mere utopia and fantasy.
Learners will polarize these blinkers and show the whole pie to everyone. A bumper crop is there for us to harvest on PeaceWorld. We have but to focus our vision, roll up our sleeves and make it happen. Then it will be harvest season when almost everyone will gather to share this incredible abundance, too busy doing so to rip each other off for lesser gain. We can no longer afford such extravagant waste.
Four fifths of a lifetime ago, as I tested the shaky legs of new-foaled opinions, my father challenged me thus: “It’s easy to condemn institutions,” this charming Bayard told me. I’ll always remember him as a chevalier sans peur et sans reproche: a fearless knight beyond reproach.
That’s a tricky combination, if you think about it. It would be easy to do harm while clothed in some illusion of fearlessness. “I don’t give a damn; let loose the dogs of war!” It would be harder to do good from fear of bad consequences, but not much more rewarding. The true goal would be to do good for the most part fearlessly. My father strove to do that his whole life, which made him a nobleman in the finest sense of the term. No lesser accomplishment is worthy.
Do you think yourself fearless? Fine. Do good without counting the cost, and prove it to us. A little trick you will have to play in your head, for your entertainment and the wellbeing of the world. Could you manage that?
The preceding paragraph may be essential reading for sociopaths who recognize themselves and their friends who see it in them. To them, I suggest a careful review. It might ease their troubles and break a new trail to PeaceWorld.
“Condemn institutions? Don’t bother,” this thoughtful horse-soldier advised me, “unless you can come up with better ones.”
I've knocked myself out, since, to guess what those alternatives could be. As a child of the greasy 50’s, I found capital-R Revolution revolting. Its runny blemishes were more telling than its watery promises. Among its worst failures, after untold suffering, it offered nothing more than the intolerable present with frequent backslides. Revolutionary dialectics and every convention they sprang from them struck me as so much cheap talk — merely culture’s inflamed reaction to orthodoxy’s stunted mediocrity.
No Great Book On Peace exists, even though students cram Clausewitz’s On War in every college. Believe me; I’ve searched the stacks in vain, for On Peace.
Midway through my mandatory obedience training – once I’d gotten good and sick of its endless lies and piles of victims – I started combing available libraries for a primer on the administration of world peace. You know, a real civics lesson for a serious cosmopolitan opposed to nationalists of every stripe? So what if it were nothing but a wild-eyed speculation? I’d have settled for that!
All I found was On War and textbooks on weapon management. There were countless histories, pious tomes, pompous political screeds, literary soap operas and nut-cracking philosophical quibbles — each one sustaining weapon mentality and diverting attention from what should have been our primary study all along: peace on Earth. They dealt with feelings, sentiment, technicalities, meaningless abstractions or some other such nonsense — anything but Peace. As my readings grew more voracious and less finicky, they led me to confirmations of weapon mentality more and more ponderous, elaborate and boring. This mountain range of minutiae aside, I found little else, to tell you the truth.
Avid for the peace primer I could never find, I set about drafting its Volume One. I would never dare call my work On Peace. Only a global consensus of Learners, assembled in the World Virtual Agora, could compose such a work in a thousand million volumes. Nowadays, we benefit from none of those.
Even if Learner fits alone on a virtual library shelf under a non-existent call number (no Dewey Decimal for peace, the Library of Congress prefix JX no longer used), this scribe cannot claim copyright to the ideals of peace. The gold dust of peace mentality may lie buried under mounds of weapon mentality dross, but its glitter shimmers from all of our masterworks. Where did Learner’s opulent forbears go? They disappeared, replaced by the weapon Classics we’ve been imposed all our lives.
Learner reconsiders a vital choice we make between weapon mentality and its peace equivalent. Every moment we endure here on Earth, we connive with this evil or defy it, whether we admit this to ourselves or not. These days, weapon mentality dominates our thinking without serious debate. No wonder runaway weapon technologies harvest evermore victims, since everyone submits to weapon mentality without a second thought. It’s also no wonder that progressive aspirations must shudder to a halt in this Sargasso Sea of weapon mentality. What is surprising about that? This social defect is so common and predictable, we shouldn’t even feel disappointed by it. Disgusted and enraged, certainly, but not disappointed,.
Once our loyalty shifts from weapons to peace, we may thrive along with all our progressive aspirations. Until then, forget them and forget us.
Since you’ve begun to grasp the central premise of Learner, you might choke on it by reflex.
“World peace? PeaceWorld? Shut up! I’m through!”
If you like to shape your opinions by triangulating controversies, ask yourself: “Why dismiss this topic without a fair hearing? While I pursued extensive studies at school, why didn’t someone teach me about it just as carefully?”
I’ll tell you why, if you’ll keep paying attention. Emerging from infancy into frustrated adolescence, we mature sexually (about age 15) before we do so emotionally and socially (30). Society exploits this offset development. It offers us a predictable life cycle, from adolescent rebellion to adult uncertainty, followed by the mid-life backlash of reactionary senescence. The force-feeding of weapon reality to child hostages eventually wrecks their youthful idealism.
It’s funny if you think about it. From the standpoint of physical fitness, the human body was designed to be eaten around age thirty by a saber-tooth tiger and thus pass up the painful dissolutions of old age. Under such conditions, our survivors had to endure the transports of love, sex and reproduction as adolescents. Most humans don’t develop their empathy and problem-solving skills until they’ve reached thirty years of age or thereabouts (some sooner, others never). The pitiless Neolithic killing ground called for near-suicidal recklessness and procreation as early teens, thus the self-centered naiveté of young beasts in heat. The thoughtful elderly, though revered by the brightest of surviving children, were not welcomed by the natural world.
As in Herman Hess’s Siddhartha, we may only plumb the depths of harsh asceticism, sensual pleasure, material wealth, self-revulsion and eventually, saintly complacency in our mediocrity (by default). We are forced early on to surrender our healthy conscience and replace it with passive-aggressive compromise and adherence at gunpoint to conspiracies of greed. We soothe our heartache with big doses of ignorance, apathy, drugs, alcohol, fanaticism, amateur obsession, professional compulsion, insanity, felony and self-destruction. Among these escapisms take your pick.
The reform-idealism of youth is everywhere subverted. The suppression of youthful idealism is a pseudo-skill each of us is called upon to master. Shouldn’t our first priority be to nurture that creative drive?
Do you recall when you were a bright young thing as pure as a glass of water? Recall the barrage of insults that blasted your childlike investigation of world peace? It didn’t matter to whom you turned – to strangers or beloved, to enlightened teachers or dumb brutes – you had to run a gauntlet of veiled insult, condescension and violence if you persisted.
Think back. “World Peace? End poverty? Feed and care for everyone in honest equality? Get real, stop dreaming, grow up! What do I have to do, grab you by the shoulders and shake?”
Ok. I’m summarizing years of systematic and very subtle indoctrination in a few lines of text. But you get my point.
On this WeaponWorld of ours, a so-called “happy childhood” is the rare one during which inescapable traumas and wrongs are inflicted at a later date, at random, by surprise and by strangers.
Your tentative childhood investigations were no doubt cut short by the denunciation, rejection and dismissal of weapon conformists. According to them, “World peace = crap. Act accordingly if you know what’s good for you.”
Did this ceaseless brainwash while you were young and impressionable, did it bring you up short? Was your conscience battered silent? Did you suspend disbelief to avoid rejection? Did you enslave yourself to its lies, regardless of their merit? Would it have mattered what race, nation or creed you sprang from? What choice did you have?
“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments that are inimical to [orthodoxy], and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” George Orwell, 1984, the New American Library, Inc., New York, 1961, p. 174.
See The 1984 Syndrome.
We were blocked because Everyman silenced us the moment we started asking awkward questions. Our culture subverts pacifism and military decadence as obsessively as it controls human waste and waterborne disease. Both were lethal to a primitive society and both are suppressed. We have been potty trained, as children, to oppose peace and valid spirituality.
One must arise from the other, don’t you think? In the absence of peace, doesn't valid spirituality suffer? In the midst of war, doesn't our spirituality turn into a monstrous caricature of itself, sneering at our hypocrisy? During what we dare call peacetime, is it not just as bad?
Are we ready to yell Enough! into the face of this grotesque weapon cult? Have we ever been more ready; will we ever be more ready?
As with our weapon cults and their relevance to God, it doesn’t matter how much mouth-jabber we devote to peace. We are just as averse to it as to excrement. As a result, we face a multitude of social contradictions and zero closure, resolution or clarity.
Sure, I can understand your fear and loathing, but I can’t let that stop me. You and other Learners, rally ‘round! We’re grownups now, seemingly immune from childhood blame games. Unplug your ears – there, that’s better – and pay attention. Learner retrieves painful questions we let drop when we were kids, with or without our consent. The choice we were denied as children, Learner gives it back to you.
As this Aquarian Age dawns, it’s a sorry state we submit to. Arrogant mismanagement invokes chainsaw logic and lubricates it with snake oil democracy. Fate’s idiot smile favors Conspiracies of Greed. Smirking predators gang rape Blind Justice before our disbelieving eyes. They laugh all the way to their bank, congress, pulpit and academy, then come back for sloppy seconds, thirds and so on. Over and over, our institutions legitimize the spastic slapstick of killer primates.
Absurd clichés jam our constellation of political metaphors despite their spectacular failure — or hadn’t you noticed yet? Like nitwit kibitzers gathering around a stalled car, we keep intoning “We’re just gonna need more Love, personal perfection, patriotism, Christ in this world, Humanism, Science, Submission, Family Values, Free Markets — straighter politicians, fairer bullies and kinder Fat Cats.” In short, some purer dictatorship of fathead vacuity. Even more widespread and worthless: “Don’t believe in nothin’, little pal, but earning and spending your next buck. Be cool, be a steady fool, like us.”
Stupefied by all this barbarism, prophets, newscasters, technocrats and commoners bray disaster in four-part harmony. Others pray that swift Apocalypse deliver them pretty please. Bewildered by their panic, they seek to worsen the necrosis of this world merely to speed up the Ending they crave.
We deny the obvious, the Miracle upon which our existence depends a thousand times a day. According to this Miracle, a greater wisdom could replace our typhoons of venom with windfalls of plenty. Abundance could blossom where wastelands fester now; full justice, soothe ancient traumas and march mutinous legions back to civility.
Imagine that! Picture the best that could happen.
Instead, weapon dissidents and weapon reactionaries sing rounds of hoary dogma. They obsess over the hated Other and plot His impossible demise. Others sit on their hands until everyone has turned into an angel or until Christ comes back to deliver us (whichever comes first).
Everything is improvised. No-one knows what he’s talking about or has a workable plan except for more killing — sit still for it or stir it up. The foremost privilege of promotion these days is not having to listen; just issue insane orders unmindful of reality or pass them on without question — the recipe for guaranteed disaster. In fact, modern management tends to manage by disaster. It inherits criminally neglected disasters or starts new ones, then demonstrates “leadership” by waving its arms and blaming subordinates for failing to meet its impossible demands.
We are only permitted two kinds of politicians these days: those who have quashed every good idea for generations (Democrats) and those who never met a bad idea they didn’t love (Republicans). Like a village blacksmith lusting after a first-glimpsed motorcycle, they long to tease the world apart and reassemble it to suit their fancy. But their obsolete political vocabulary won’t let them understand the world’s fundamental contradictions and opportunities. They seek to fix a Harley-Davidson with Age of Pericles terms and horse-and-buggy tools.
Only the absolute justice of our cause keeps it alive — not our necrotic habits of thought and speech. Rendered feverish by gangrenous ideologies and their failure to benefit anyone but special interests, we’ve grown too credophobic to believe in anything any longer. Force-fed commercial blather, our moral gyros tumbled, we’ve let go of our last spirit toeholds and plunged into riptides of change.
But do not despair. Listen to Jesse Jackson and “Keep hope alive!” As happened to Germany after two World Wars (sic), reactionaries will hand over a basket case for us to reanimate once it seems too late to salvage anything from the wreckage. Learner anticipates that handover — this time, of the whole world.
You might recall watching some movie where ruthless Evil secures every source of power, control and security. By midway through the story, the Good are dumbfounded. No one has any idea what to do next.
Then someone – perhaps Ruth – says, “Hold on, I have a plan.” Rather than turn away in dumb despair, listless bystanders start paying miraculous attention. Inspired, they turn into heroes. By then, for the sake of dramatic continuity, the camera cuts to the triumph of the Good.
This book lists vital steps between “no plan” and “plan in action.” During this critical but no-fun stage, we should discuss our plan, expose its weaknesses, suggest other alternatives and coordinate their timing and chronology. Let volunteers take on tasks that fit their special interests and talents. All you reductive meliorists pounding on your steering wheel in stalled cars, start your engines! Shake awake those who’ve held back from sheer nihilism and cowardice.
I have a scheme; I’m announcing it in this book and you’re reading it. We are at this essential if boring stage of the procedure. Hurry up!
A few warnings before we begin. This book’s eccentric prose, exotic idiom and outlandish speculations will make for hard reading. We’re going to make warfare illegal across the planet, here — not simply bake a cake. You’ll find in these pages neither quick fixes nor simple sound bites, none of the pablum you’ve grown accustomed to. Click Back if that was all you came here looking for.
What’s more, the chapters of Learner were crafted as stand-alone texts, any one of which an Internet searcher could stumble upon independently of the others. So you will run into a lot of repetition if you read them in succession. Fine! You never heard enough of this stuff elsewhere.
Treat Learner as a rough guide, clearer than run-on Classics and straighter than Ivy-League obfuscations. After reading it, young prodigals may scout out this locked-down prison world while guards and convicts slumber.
Evenhandedly, this book appeals to ecstatic Nobel laureates, berserkers with nothing else to lose, idealists adrift, madrassa dreamers, oriental bonzes, Talmud scholars and Bible seminarians ‒ none of them satisfied ‒ prep-schooled sellouts and ghetto luminaries defying evils wriggling just beyond their own brown study. It speaks just as much to every Learner lost in a funhouse mirror-maze of weapons and peace, as to my childhood ghost haunting bygone stacks. I address these words in equal parts to this year’s class of the War Academies and to next year’s middle school prodigies.
The best have combed the library stacks of weapons administration for the literature of peace, to no avail. This book sketches what we were driven to discover and failed to find.
California dreamin’, I surf riptides of chaos and swim the undertows of paradox. Irritably, I toss aside treasured concepts and take up much-maligned ideas. My message is very biased. Attacking sly platitudes, it climbs way out on shaky limbs — further out than you may wish to follow. You’ll find no “detachment”, “disinterest” or “balance” here, as those terms are misused today. Given this complex topic, my literary numbskills and worse erudition, your work is cut out for you.
I’ll turn rhetorical cannons against the weapon mentors who drilled me on them. Horrified and enraged, I’ll cite fallacies more useful than their “logically correct” counterparts. I have no use for proponents of “logical analysis” who permit children to starve and turn their back on them when such awkward topics intrude on their blank spirit. To uphold PeaceWorld, Learners will pirate every Madison Avenue fraud and taps bugle call that lulled us to sleep up ‘til now.
If you seek a six-hundred-word-or-less formula for World Peace, consult the Georgia Guidestones carved in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian (but not in French, you hick):
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally, resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
If the dry logic of world peace is all you seek, read Mortimer Adler’s How to Think about War & Peace, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1944. Back then, President Roosevelt and his brilliant staffers anticipated a popular, one-world government that would have criminalized warfare across the planet and guaranteed human rights for all — seventy years ago, with 150 million fewer war dead and a couple billion fewer deaths of famine and preventable disease that we “enlightened” contemporaries are responsible for ― and how many more thousands of trillions of dollars, vital resources and sabotaged ingenuity chucked out the window with our consent?
How dare you hint that none of this is of your doing! Quit lying to yourself, here at least. We are all 100% accountable.
Alas, commissars of the American Weapon Party made sure that a failed haberdasher, Harry Truman, would grab the reins of power from Roosevelt’s dying hands. Hiroshima, my love? Truman and his small-town, small-mind cronies threw away the global goodwill America had earned liberating the world from fascism. Just like Bush the Lesser and his rat pack did after 9/11, when the whole world was on our side once again.
Truth to tell, America and the world never recovered from the “purely coincidental” regicide of two Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (as well as many more international progressive chiefs wasted anonymously by dark ops during Cold War and since), and their replacement by slime molds of the reactionary warmonger kind. They have groomed a series of politically correct mediocrities, since. Their prejudices drove us to another a hundred fifty million war dead and into another half-century of bankrupt weapon management.
Still today, we waste precious time and talent in pointless protests against mighty warmonger initiatives. Let them protest, in total futility, our mighty peace initiatives — never again the other way around!
This text is a speculative entertainment and a rally cry, not some textbook drear. Neither fiction nor non-, it fits in somewhere between confession, screed and sketchbook of homilies, anecdotes and conjectures. As Margaret Atwood put it, forecast journalism. Actually, I thought of publishing its hundred-odd stand-alone chapters as a series of pamphlets, the way Thomas Paine wrote his. There is no other text like Learner. I have not found a political group that would adopt it outright as its own.
Were that I could! I would not have felt so isolated on this planet of unrepentant killer primates, nor so terrified that things will go from bad to worse at their hands, with or without the publication of Learner.
I have no faith in my own generation (good for nothing but Bush the Lesser, his National Capitalist cronies and now Trump the Joker) nor those that follow; perhaps the next third or fourth… Learners will certainly arise as a political party in the future, perhaps after I’m gone — as it came to pass with Marx, Rousseau and Erasmus.
“So it happens that beyond the imaginary demarcation line between past and present, the writer still finds himself eye to eye with the human condition, which he is bound to observe and understand as best he can, with which he must identify, giving it the strength of his breath and the warmth of his blood, which he must attempt to turn into the living texture of the story that he intends to translate for his readers, in such a way that the result be as beautiful, as simple, and as persuasive as possible.” Ivo Andrić, Acceptance Speech for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature.
"If humanity bears an eternal truth, it must be the tragic hesitation of the man who will be called an artist for centuries to come – standing before the work of art he experiences more deeply than anyone else, that he admires in ways no one else could, yet that he alone on Earth wants secretly to destroy at the same time."
"So understand this fully: if genius is a discovery, the resurrection of the past is based on it. At the beginning of this speech, I told you what a renaissance could be, what the heritage of a culture could be. A culture is reborn when men of genius, searching for their truth, draw from the depth of centuries everything that used to resemble the truth, even if they don’t recognize it."
André Malraux, Les Conquérants, (The Conquerors), Le livre de poche, © Bernard Grasset, 1928, pages 311-13.
“The leader bears all our confusion in his attempt to climb above society for a clear view that reveals the right way. There, on his imaginary mountain, he stands alone while suffering the private anxiety of freedom. He watches us dancing aimlessly below and half struggling with mortality in our reassuring maze. He can note a certain self-confidence on our part, lost in our earthly eternity. But how will he manage to collect his thoughts if he cannot force all of us and the structure itself to respond to his efforts?” John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Vintage Press, A Division of Random House, 1991, p. 349.
Accept the scraps of Learners you approve of, then make something better happen. Dismiss what you find that disconcerts you — as conjecture, hearsay, heresy, what you will.
If this work inspires some new idea, let me know. I’d love to add new ideas to a rewrite of this text (with proper attribution). I may get to chronicle the real-world progress of this endeavor … perhaps in future chapters of this samizdat.
Why do the terms “utopian” and “idealist” consign our highest values to the trash heap? How long has it been that reactionary chic put empathy out of style?
We may be poor practitioners of peace at first; but the love of good flows in our veins. No description of this talent exists (kalotropism?) but it will not be denied much longer. Who knows; doing good may become fashionable once again, despite the efforts of the worst among us to forbid and ridicule it.
Loudmouthed morality truants fake their cleverness by worsening our weapon neuroses. By rote repetition, they malign “do-gooders” and “bleeding hearts”. Hiding their shameful shortcomings, they confabulate the pig-headed terminology and criminal line-up of reactionary correctness. They’ve set up an assembly line of conmen and professional hypocrites “politically correct” enough to serve as stand-ins for legitimate leaders. Each new candidate is worse than his predecessors, while people of talent and genius are chased from politics and social commentary; gunned down in the street or crucified by the media while their tormentors are promoted.
Sneering reactionaries betray themselves in that they alone use the expression “politically correct.”
Who are these thugs? Do-badders? The flint-hearted? Do a few stony hearts require a little lubricant bleeding to re-oxygenate their flat-lined conscience?
After so many tries, why don’t we have the best possible government? With all our schools, books and teachers, why aren’t there millions of peace mentors out there, enriching the abundance that is our due, loading the world with miraculous technologies, sacred wildlife, courtly love and random acts of kindness? Where did the superb replacements of young Andy Carnegie, the Roosevelts and Little Flower LaGuardia go, that the tyranny of conscience demands?
If we viewed this world as one Grand Academy – as Learners would bring it about – most of its students major in some aspect of weapon technology while all too few take an elective minor in peace. As the machinery of war grinds on without letup, only its most devoted slaves may evaluate its usefulness in public discourse.
Hardly anyone can list the great peace mentors. Peace’s foremost practitioners have been unassuming gentlefolk; female peace practitioners, as under-reported here as they have been in general history. Compare this state of ignorance with our familiarity with Genghis Khan, Hitler and like masters of mayhem. If peace were our first priority – not mass murder – this Learner deficit would cause us grave concern.
Your first appraisal of Learner may make you dizzy since its range of topics is so kaleidoscopic. We never studied them in the depth they deserved. Our first review will be insolently superficial and subject to myth-based denial at every page-turn. Once this crisis has passed, we may render justice to these exotic notions.
Read the first few chapters of Learner to take in its vocabulary: (“Intro & Vocab” to “Stop”). Then resume your perusal at random in any of its three Sections:
SECTION I) Why we’re in this mess;
SECTION II) How we approach PeaceWorld; and
SECTION III) What results we should expect.
The first and harshest Section, “Why,” stretches beyond the midpoint of Learner. “Why” is so incendiary, its first-time readers run the risk of burnout. Unlike more sedative texts, this one doesn’t overlook great evils we’ve been taught to regret briefly and then take for granted. This merciless inventory of error will seem wearisome to you at first, mind-numbing later on and soon unbearable. Your subconscious will revisit every aversion therapy you suffered as a child, to get you to quit. You’ll grow frustrated with this reading, then nauseated by it and soon enraged. You will have to brace yourself to chugalug this bitter brew to its dregs. Take tiny sips of this sour mash and find sweeter syrup some where else, perhaps at the titty of TV.
But don’t give up. I could just as well have called those three Sections Lamentation, Transition and Hope.
Bittersweet “How” lists unfortunate tendencies and proposes some countermeasures. Sweeter “What” sketches peaceful alternatives to the weapon technologies we submit to today — assuming global majorities have already grasped Why and How.
This text is intended for every Learner to come. Its discontent should have been our patrimony and was — forgotten since. I leave the next Sections: Who, When and Where, to you, beloved Learners. If you catch me fumbling my mandate, that’s your cue to take up my burden of proof.
I had no choice but to write – en deux langues (in two languages) – this book, this whole book and nothing but this book. In the end, I can only justify my presumption by pointing out the depth of our moral bankruptcy and of our craving for Peace: our ultimate forbidden love.