Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Benjamin Franklin said, "There was never a good war, or a bad peace."
Any sensible human being would agree with Benjamin Franklins words. Why is it then that shootings, wars and violence hit our headlines daily?
The inability of some current politicians to understand the consequences of their actions and their decisions to civilians is the root cause of violence in our countries.
Additionally powerful gun companies, such as Glock and Beretta, donate to powerful Non Profits, like the NRA, USA’s National Rifle Association, which lobbies for stronger gun culture and influence gun policies in favor of gun business. Governments interest in the business of war influences their expenditure on military and defense.
This article was going to be about how we can create a world with no violence - a realization of Mahatma Gandhi’s words on “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” A realization of Dalai Lama’s explanation on Non-Violence: “Non-violence doesn’t mean we have to passively accept injustice. We have to fight for our rights, we have to oppose injustice. Gandhi fervently promoted non-violence, but that doesn’t mean he was complacently accepting of the status quo. He resisted, but he did so without doing harm.”
Do we have the power to dream about a world, where all countries sign a treaty not to invest into defense anymore and instead use the money for developmental growth and social progress? Can we imagine a world, where all countries sign a a peace treaty in perpetuity? Can we wish for a world where countries have meetings to share best practices on healthcare, education, environment, instead of calling for ceasefires that will not last? A world where we support our neighbors instead of fight them?
They say - keep dreaming. This will never happen. The world is a dark place and systems are rigged. There is nothing to be done.
I beg to differ! This article is to present two things, that need to be done to change the world for the better:
1) Reevaluate governmental spending on education and defense.
2) Educate on the election process and adjust it with focus on governance, instead of campaigning.
1) Governments should be spending more on education, instead of defense. The more educated the population, the less likely they are to vote for leaders bought by companies with interests detrimental to societal progress, and they are less likely to be swayed by false statements of leaders. . Increasing the spending on better education can improve the economic growth of the country. Adding the points of the “power of education” article of positive parivartan, education has the power to reduce extremism, radicalization and violence by expanding the teaching portfolio to subjects of mindfulness and happiness.
An analysis of the governmental spending as % of GDP of military and education expenditures, shows that the top ten countries by GDP spend on average 52% of their education budget on military. The top ten countries by social progress index however spend an average of 18% of their education budget on military. See below table for the details. Countries like the Nordics are on top of all charts of happiness, education, gender equality, as well as social progress. The ten biggest economies need to take the step and learn from these top performers on social progress. Spend on education and less on defense!
2) The election process of future leaders needs to be adjusted in a way that doesn’t let leaders be elected on their ability to campaign. Leaders need to be elected on their ability to govern. Citizens carry the responsibility to choose leaders that campaign without the backing of high value donations from big firms with questionable missions. In case the electives with the biggest PACs are chosen, we all shouldn’t be surprised that the governors end up defending the interests of those who financed them, instead of realizing their promises during the campaign.
Does the current US president understand, what impact his feisty discussions with Iran has on civilians, in case of an outbreak of war?
We need leaders who think diplomacy is the only way. We need leaders who think peace is the only way. We need leaders who believe “Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong.” (Mahatma Gandhi).
Let’s take the example of New Zealand, the country on rank number seven from the social progress index: In just six days after a shooting in New Zealand, prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all military-style and semi-automatic weapons. It is essential for the benefit of the world, that the ten biggest economies follow the lead of New Zealand. Key for this to happen is the importance of cutting ties between the NRA and the US government. Citizens need to be aware that “in 2016 the NRA spent $4m on lobbying and direct contributions to politicians as well as more than $50m on political advocacy, including an estimated $30m to help elect Donald Trump president. Its overall annual budget is roughly $250m, allocated to educational programmes, gun facilities, membership events, sponsorships, legal advocacy and related efforts.” (BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41489552). More important than the candidate itself, people need to be aware of who these candidates are being backed and financed by. Additionally, the NRA has an official consultative status within the United Nations. (https://esango.un.org/civilsociety/displayConsultativeStatusSearch.do). This is an easy pathway to promote this organizations’ interest in exporting gun culture and influencing gun policy worldwide to support their business. This needs to be made aware of to bigger circles. We need governments not standing for interests of such NGO’s, but proactively helping prevent arms for use of war crimes and human rights abuses.
We need to chose leaders with characteristics to govern; we need to chose leaders with interests on social progress and agendas and manifestos full of education reforms, healthcare improvements and environmental plans; and we need leaders with empathy who understand the consequences of their actions and decisions!
With increased spending on education and increased transparency on election processes, I strongly believe we can have a world where in case of disagreement, the first and last resort will always be diplomacy. I believe that a world can exist where Gandhi and Dalai Lama’s quotes are not just quoted in some blogs, but actually become every human being’s credo.