“The Federation of the World”

Tennyson said “Locksley Hall” expresses “…young life, its good side, its deficiencies, and its yearnings.” I’m inclined to believe him, partly because I was young when I first read the poem. A half-century later, these are still among my favorite lines of poetry:

“…For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
“Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;…
“…Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
“In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
“There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
“And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law….”
(“Locksley Hall,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

I still think building something like Tennyson’s “Federation of the world” is a good idea. I’m quite certain that it will be a long, hard, process.

But we’re already making some headway.

Something like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault would have seemed like ‘science fiction’ in my youth. (May 26, 2017)

It’s not just the technology. Norway runs the vault, but it is part of an international effort. So far, 71 sovereign states signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture,”

Even more hopeful, I think, 193 of the world’s 200 or so sovereign states are in the United Nations.

Four Millennia of Empires

International cooperation isn’t new.

We’ve had leagues, alliances, and treaties for longer than we’ve had nations.

Sargon of Akkad achieved a measure of stability by conquering his neighbors.

Sargon’s empire, established about 4,300 years ago, lasted just shy of two centuries.

Ur-Nammu was the first of many folks following Sargon’s example. The empire-collapse-recovery cycle continued for about four millennia.

These days, Ur-Nammu is chiefly known for the Code of Ur-Nammu, the earliest known law code.

The last I heard, Hammurabi’s is the earliest complete code we’ve found. (March 30, 2017; October 30, 2016; September 25, 2016)

Making a serious effort to unite all nations as almost-but-not-entirely-equal members of a global entity: That is new.

Working With What We Have

The United Nations is no more perfect than America’s Congress.

But for all their faults, they’re what we have to work with. Today.

John Rarick’sspider flag of the United Nations” slogan of 1968-69 is largely forgotten, happily. The attitude hasn’t entirely disappeared, however.

Some Americans still seem uneasy about ‘foreigners:’ or other Americans who don’t look and act pretty much like them.

Others seem willing to try establishing a ‘Pax Americana.’ I’m not. The Pax Romana was an improvement on the Final War of the Roman Republic, but we can do better.

I’ve talked about Roman history, Icarus, and getting a grip, before. (May 26, 2017)

On the whole, I like being an American. I think my nation has much to offer the world.

But humanity has tried maintaining stability and security with empires. They don’t last. Not more than a few centuries. It’s time to try something else.

The UN has fallen far short of my hopes. However, as an alternative to another global war: I think it’s the more reasonable option. (October 30, 2016)

Unseemly Optimism

I know that our world is a mess, and has been since long before we started recording our blunders and achievements.

“For mischief comes not out of the earth, nor does trouble spring out of the ground;
2 But man himself begets mischief, as sparks fly upward.”
(Job 5:77)

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”
(Murphy’s law)

“Murphy was an optimist.”
(Otoole’s commentary on Murphy’s law)

I suspect that the ‘gloominess is next to godliness’ attitude, and its secular analogs, have roots in fashionable melancholy. (May 12, 2017; August 12, 2016)

I think seeing this as the best of all possible worlds, or a hopeless and doomed one, are both — incomplete perceptions. And that’s a metaphysical can of worms I’ll leave for another day.

Seeing the future as bleak is something I understand. Feeling hopeless was my default state for decades, thanks to undiagnosed depression. (October 14, 2016)

Feelings, emotions, are real. Mine, however, are highly unreliable guides. I’m better off if I think. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1730, 1778, 1804, 2339)

Learning to do that is a work in progress. (January 11, 2017; October 5, 2016)

I’m not cautiously optimistic because I feel hopeful. I occasionally feel hopeful because I think there is reason for cautious optimism. (October 30, 2016)

Hope, in one sense, is a psychological or emotional state. It is also a virtue. Feeling hopeful is okay, but not necessary. What counts is what I do, not how I feel. (Catechism, 17621770, 18171821)

“A Civilization of Love”

As I said Friday, I think the Svalbard seed vault is a good idea.

I also think building Pope St. John Paul II’s “civilization of love” makes sense.

I’m sure that at least until there’s a “sufficiently powerful authority at the international level,” some of us must be ready to defend innocent lives.

“…As long as the danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted….”
(“Gaudium et Spes,” Pope Bl. Paul VI (December 7, 1965))

“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,”5 Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))

Part of my job is contributing “…to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom….” (Catechism, 19281942, 2239)

I think that includes suggesting that learning to sort out conflicts without war is a good idea. (Catechism, 23072317)

I don’t think the United Nations will become Tennyson’s “Federation of the world.”

But I think it is a good start. It’s already lasted longer than the Second Continental Congress’ Articles of Confederation. (February 5, 2017)

If we keep working with all people of good will, I think we can develop a close approximation of Tennyson’s “Parliament of man … Federation of the world.” Eventually.

It won’t be easy. There’s an enormous backlog of unresolved issues. But I think we can succeed. I am certain that we must try:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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