Recently, in an exchange with talk show host Barry F. Seidman (Equal Time for Freethought; WBAI-NY), who describes himself as a secular humanist, the subject of paradigm shift came up. The host is an advocate of libertarian-socialism (anarchism), a good man who envisions a future for our species much like that envisioned by AFWW: egalitarian, just, less violent, ecologically sustainable, and free of war.
He sees us trapped in endless cycles of war, polluting and denuding our environment at a perilous rate, and challenged by the juggernaut of global warming. In other words, like most well-read and broadly-informed people, he sees the mess we've gotten ourselves into.
When questioned by me about whether or not he used his voice, via his radio program and interviews with experts, to encourage the global empowerment of women as rapidly as possible in order to achieve his vision, his response was, No. "Unless we change the current capitalist system, adding more women to government won't make any difference."
Ah, I thought, this very enlightened man of good will, like most men, women, well-meaning organizations, and governments, has it the wrong way 'round.
Let me explain. Maybe you agree with him. Maybe you also feel that to fix what's wrong with us, other issues command first priority. You may agree with him that the crucial focus is to change "the system," and then there will be time to get more women involved.
Or perhaps you feel the place to start is by teaching people, young and old, one person at a time, how to resolve their conflicts nonviolently, how to live in peace as a daily practice. When we do that, the assumption seems to be, men everywhere, even those in the Muslim world, will then peacefully accept women as equals and will embrace women as full partners, in our homes, governments, and in global decision-making.
Or maybe you feel that paradigm shift necessitates tackling the war industry head-on, ending the use of land mines, cluster bombs, and nuclear weapons—and working forward from there.
Or maybe your focus is on ending poverty. Or spreading the enlightenment and freedom that comes with liberal democracy. In other words, you too may think that empowering women is a good thing, but something that can wait until after we fix the really important problem/s, after we fix the really big barriers to positive change in human history.
THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGING
Agricultural Revolution. Industrial Revolution. Digital Revolution/ Information Age. Massive alterations in outlook and behavior have accompanied each of these profound shifts in human culture. No writer has come close to the masterful chronicling of the pell-mell morphing of our time to be found in two classic works written in the late 1900s by Alvin and Heidi Toffler: Future Shock and The Third Wave. Both books still make fascinating and highly instructive reading.
It's likely in moments of reflection you feel an uncomfortable stirring, a tightening sense of unease and uncertainty in your chest. Change tends to disturb us. And if anything, the speed of change so brilliantly limned by the Toffler's seems to continue its breathtaking acceleration. We are creating, with every day that passes, the very different future in which we and our children will live. These astonishing changes are propelled by myriad social pressures and technological inventions. It's not a question of whether we'll experience a massive cultural upheaval—a "great turning," a "paradigm shift," a cultural transformation. Right now we are, in fact, experiencing a huge one. The question is whether the change will be mostly violent or mostly peaceful and where will we end up.
By Judith Hand. There are myriad reasons—psychological, proximate, and ultimate (biological)—for why we make war. We’ve indulged in this deeply embedded, very bad cultural habit for a very long time, so skeptics are on solid ground to believe that ending it may not be, most likely isn’t, possible. But in Shift: The Beginning of War, The Ending of War I explore how we CAN end war, if we choose to. No biological barrier prevents us from breaking this habit; as with all bad habits, including one as deeply engrained as war, breaking free is a matter of will.
Once we resolve to act, two kinds of efforts will be required for success, admittedly more simply said than done. We must:
As the essay below will explain, the unconscious and universally accepted worldview, the paradigm, that underlies war is: Domination of others using force and violence is inevitable and hence to be endured/accommodated/worked around. The vast majority of us believe we have always made war and always will. To end war, that paradigm must be eliminated and replaced by another. The essay introduces that replacement paradigm, and then explains how the global community can take action to bring about that replacement.
At this time, however, late 2019, as I update the AFWW website, I find that not everything in the essay will seem useful or relevant. This is particularly the case with specific ideas for how to go about weaning human societies from war. In some respects, the essay should be considered a historical piece. It was written over eight years ago, in 2011, and needs to be understood in the writer’s historical context. In my historical context as a peace advocate.
That was the backdrop against which I wrote the essay below: "A Proposal to Hasten a Global Paradigm Shift for the Security and Well-being of All Children Everywhere."
Time moved on, and the backdrop changed. For example:
The confidence in 2011 that I felt about the forward and upward progress of the global community toward embracing a global peace has taken a hit. The confidence with which I described in this essay the means by which the global community could undertake the serious work of dismantling the war machine has taken a hit. Although the material on paradigm shift is as germane as ever, I considered whether I ought to delete the essay entirely as having too many components that seem wildly undoable in today’s political and social circumstances.
But times do change. There will be a U.S. presidential election in 2020. That may set things right again in that great democracy. America may then reach out once more to move history forward and upward, seeking to unite the global community in common cause to deal with climate change for example, a cause that would surely benefit by simultaneous action to construct an enforceable global peace treaty.
Arguably the need for global unity to solve the massive problems that confront all nations at this time may also lead us to decide collectively that we must stop spending human and financial resources on war and spend them instead on building a future where our way of life does not include war. If we decide to change the course of history in that positive direction, the information in the essay, outlining some ways to proceed, will once again become relevant. For that reason I have chosen to keep the essay fundamentally in its original form.
A Proposal to Hasten a Global Paradigm Shift
for the Security and Well-being of All Children Everywhere
Copyright © 2011 by Judith Hand
Adapt or die! This Darwinian imperative is arguably truer now than at any time in our brief history on earth.
Many of us look into the years ahead with dread, aware of monumental, self-inflicted problems that seem to be spinning us out of control: poverty that triggers revolution and war, the cruelty of slave and sex trades, the waste of lives due to drug addictions, violence in our homes and communities, the unsustainable consumption of life-sustaining resources. Then there are the potential horrors of newfangled weapons of mass destruction. Global climate change could result in—or trigger—a global pandemic, mass starvation, massive refugee problems, or global economic collapse. Can we adapt? Can we change?
Our problems are super-sized, many are global in scope. Our disagreements are numerous and severe. A belief that virtually all of us can agree on, however, it is that if we could shape a culture that allowed our children to grow up in safe, healthy, and nurturing communities, we should use our collective wisdom and resources to create that reality. What is meant by security and wellbeing is that we build and sustain communities where children grow up with healthy food and clean water, have access to education to the level they choose, medical care essential to a healthy body, freedom to think and speak freely, and they do not live in fear of outsiders or members of their own community.
An essay by Dr. Judith L. Hand (2010)
In 2005, I established a website dedicated to abolishing war. Among a great many necessities, an important key element is to have empowered women as leaders and followers. Women, it is argued, are the natural allies of nonviolent conflict resolution, and leaving them on the sidelines in a campaign to entirely end the practice of war guarantees failure. Reading this or hearing me speak, insistent skeptics often throw out the challenge, “If women are allies of nonviolence, how do you explain Sarah Palin? And what’s with Ann Coulter?”
Years ago, when people were working, unsuccessfully as it turns out, to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee to women the rights guaranteed to men, people often asked me, “How do you explain Phyllis Schlafly?” Schlafly fought hard to defeat the amendment; she was the poster-girl for keeping women in their traditional places and hampered by traditional limitations (although she did not actually practice what she preached, being extremely active outside the home).
Rather than skeptical, the tone of the questions at that time tended to be puzzled: how to explain women like Schlafly who dug in their heels to prevent change, even change that would give their mothers, sisters, and daughters rights equal to those granted to men. The behavior of these women seemed so counterintuitive. Shouldn’t all women want women to have equal pay for equal work, equal ability buy stocks without a husband’s okay, equal access to the money available for sports programs in schools, and so on? Why should women have to fight every possible inequality one by one, with the ever-present possibility of loosing any given right should state legislators change their minds when an amendment could make sexual equality set law in all states for all time?
Back then I had a couple of answers, based mostly on personal experience, answers I still consider valid. In the years since, I’ve explored the subjects of social conflict, war, and male/female gender differences with respect to physical aggression. This produced a much clearer understanding of this seeming puzzle of women-as-conservatives phenomenon, even when it keeps them subordinate to men or leads them to support a president who wants to wage preemptive war. My answers now are more inclusive and based on biological, anthropological, and psychological studies.
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About the Author
Dr. Judith L. Hand. Dr. Hand earned her Ph.D. in biology from UCLA. Her studies included animal behavior and primatology. After completing a Smithsonian Post-doctoral Fellowship at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., she returned to UCLA as a research associate and lecturer. Her undergraduate major was in cultural anthropology. She worked as a technician in neurophysiology laboratories at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute, in Munich, Germany. As a student of animal communication, she is the author of several books and scientific papers on the subject of social conflict resolution.