Taking initiative

Because I am for a new and more global security system, because I am pro-environment, and because I have an active hope that one day (even one day soon) this planet will develop unified global institutions founded on the age-old vision of loving one's neighbor as oneself, people want to categorize me as a ''liberal.'' And I am. But I am also a ''conservative.'' That is, I try to live a simple, self-reliant life - these qualities being cornerstones of the original conservative outlook.

I have found it possible to be both liberal and conservative without at the same time being hypocritical. Both strands of thinking, in their higher sense, have grains of necessary truths. And both are necessary if one is to become a midwife for the change and transformation through which our world is moving. I think we need to work for a planet where individuals can better realize their intellectual and spiritual capacities.

These are lofty ideals, I know. I often wondered how I moved so quickly from reading the sides of cereal boxes to reading books by Bucky Fuller, or how I adopted a ''one world'' point of view without too much fuss.

Thinking back, most of it was simply being faithful to my sense of who I am. I saw a lot in my own community I didn't want to participate in - materialism being its peak expression. I was uncomfortable with the kitchen conversation and with the behavior patterns - especially of my peers.

This came very much from being an avid reader and listener. I took books seriously. They led me (after some real groping in the dark) toward ''new realities'' in both the realm of inner faculties and the process of outer world change. I had had no religious base which might have helped me cast some light on my experiences. So, while my parents fretted, I read avidly about Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Pretty soon I realized that I was experiencing the sensation of ''waking up'' to larger and more transcendent realities. My teen-age suburban world of drugs, sex, rock-and-roll and cars became more and more foreign to something inside me. It wasn't me.

My family did a lot of traveling, in the United States and Europe. I think this experience made me travel further in consciousness than in a strictly geographical space. Thesg journeys - like any good pilgrimage - helped to verify my growing intuition that my own cultural milieu was not final or ultimately authoritative - was not the only way to look at the world. There was also the ecological world. My mother tells me that when I was still a baby I used to crawl around, finding and collecting rocks. This early love led me right into a concern for Earth evolution and the birth of the biological organism.

Then I found out about Africa. Exploring Africa by book and film led me to a fascination with rain forests and with the odd and interesting African animals of the savanna. Out of this fascination, which I think every child must go through in some way, I go better in tune with the great expanses of time; the dinosaurs did live 300 million years ago. Awareness of things like this when you're vers young is important. You grow up with more plastic boundaries. I wasn't, for example, feeling the ''boundaries'' of 60 minutes or even 30 minutes. I was thinking of 200 million years and 500 million years and 4 billion for Earth.

From Africa through Louis Leakey and thu discovery of Lucy and into anthropology and the origins of Homo sapiens in primate evolution, I was led in my own way to archaeology and then more modern history.

By the time I got to high school, I was taking world history classes, and this meant you couldn't escape World War II. I realized that World War II was filled with all the major existential issues and questions. All the great philosophical dilemmas emerged. One need only contemplate the Nazi phenomenon and the place of evil in the world to see how the depths of the human psyche unraveled before us.

From the vantage point of a nonparticipant a generation removed, I saw how in World War II, all of humanity was enveloped in a common experience - perhaps its first collective one. Forty million of us had been killed. Few families were untouched. Whole portions of Earth had been literally burned away, while this experience reworked all the pieces of the human history puzzle.

It also showed the incredible amount of pressure wars produced on society. With the destruction of the old mores and values came the rapid if fumbling modernization felt in every part of the world.

With 1945 came the swift spread of global communications and travel. We discovered our ability to communicate at the speed of light; to travel at the speed of sound. In the space of not quite four decades, the whole body of humanity has for the first time been simultaneously conscious of itself. The abolition of time and space, with the speed of communication and travel, has ''forced'' global perspective onto my generation.

Perhaps the disarmament and security movement is one of the more visible manifestations of this emerging perspective. In World War II, more guns equaled more security, which in turn meant more power. But I think things have changed. Thirty-seven years of unbridled arms racing has produced only greater and greater insecurity. With Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the mathematics suddenly shifted. Now, I think, more guns equals less security. And the new math , appropriate for a new age is: more community equals more security.

What I think we need, and what I am working for in my own life, are community structures at the global level. To look to the nature of human society itself is to discover that sanctioned force is the only way s cieties have functioned effectively. We need a sheriff in this global Wild West scene. Without international processes to handle and reqtrai illegal use of force, it is unlikely that governments will internalize the self-discipline and self-reliance needed fr an actkve, creative peace. A new and neutral external agent is needed now - more than ever.

But I can also see, as in my own life, that the only way to begin any of these giant tasks is with oneself. When one ''wakes up'' to his or her own potential, and to the larger sense of the world around him, one begins to realize that he (or she) embodies transcendent spiritual values. And one also recognizes himself as an agent for change toward ''peace on earth.''

So one is neither conservative nor liberal, really. One becomes a sober radical.

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