Beyond Systems: Achieving Peace Through Our Shared Humanity
The Systems inscribed on our psyches as accidents of birth, geography, ethnicity, gender, religion and nationality can operate to divide us, one from another if we allow them to do so. Moreover, we tend not simply to be born into these Systems and to have them taught to us by all that surrounds us, but we also tend to study and learn these actively often avidly.
These Systems are solidified by three essential drivers: obedience, conformity, and loyalty. These drivers are often regarded as absolutely sacrosanct, not to be challenged in any way. The power of these drivers, however, has led humankind at times into the most hideous wars.
The thesis of Beyond Systems is that all three of these drivers must be challenged if we are to learn to live in peace.
In place of blind obedience, conformity, or loyalty there is demanded a different loyalty, one to the interconnection of us all, and the caring and compassion that this demands.
This is a radical concept, yet as old and as fundamental as mankind itself. That it has been buried under the weight of all the loyalties that divide us, in no way means that it is an impossible dream. Indeed, there are signs on our planet that we no longer want to live by the old divisions, the old hatreds, the old subjugations of one group by another, the old wars that have afflicted us.
War must be renounced. To do so, we must take a close look at not only these things that divide us, but also at revenge. Revenge has never worked and never will. But to get beyond it we need to understand what ends it: forgiveness.
Forgiveness, however, is neither weakness nor a cheap "out" for perpetrators. Rather, it is what alone can release the poison from our own souls. It needs to be understood in a much different light than a simple "giving in." It is rather the pathway out of the despair of endless war to a future of mankind living together as brothers and sisters.
But can wars end? Isn't the human race simply too dedicated to this horrible habit? And isn't it just too lucrative?
Indeed, the war machine is fed not only by obedience, conformity, and loyalty, but by economics as well. And this economic motive is not to be found only in the captains of industry, the multinational corporations who reap huge profits from it. It is to be found as well, and just as fundamentally, in the men and women at the grassroots whose livelihoods depend on it. If it is my job, my financial lifestyle, my physical comfort that is at stake, I can find all the justifications I need for continuing the war machine.
However, what is equally obvious to any of us who consider the role of money as a motive to continue war, is that conversion of industry to peaceful uses does not mean destruction of our economy, but a tremendous net gain for humanity, ourselves included. It means using the powerful skills and brains of our citizens to build the bonds of caring for all of us on the planet, rather than using them for building the weapons of war.
Beyond Systems can be disturbing to some, because it challenges the reader to think in much larger terms than those to which most of us are usually accustomed. But its insights have the potential to reward the reader immensely.
Part of its power is the telling of the author's journey into espousing a condition Beyond Systems. He began with a strict religious upbringing and work as a Roman Catholic priest, with loyalty to church, country, race, gender and all the rest. By degrees, through a long life and much experience, he has moved out of blind adherence not only to the Catholic System and to the other Systems which formed his background, but to all Systems, and into a questioning of any tenet which divides us from each other.
In no way does he deny the great and wonderful lessons that ca
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