Why do I do nothing? The obstacles to world peace action
A high level U.S. Congress Commission, our most knowledgeable scientists, multiple peace groups and informed citizens, and the father of the Bomb all warn us that our world has a terminal illness. Yet we pay little or no attention, even as the warning sirens grow louder. Ask anyone if they wish for or pray for world peace and without hesitation the response will be yes. Ask the same individuals what they do to bring about world peace and the near universal answer will be nothing.
Do we consider our world experts fools? Are we collectively irrational? Three explanations, based on over 100 interviews, will serve to enlighten you as to why most of the world keeps its head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, leaving vulnerable parts exposed. Once enlightened, you will want to take appropriate action.
But first, I want to ask you a few more questions. If your child or another loved one were to fall down the stairs, is there anything you could be doing that would take precedence over immediately providing aide? For most individuals, the well-being of loved ones tops other priorities. Imagine only briefly that your family doctor tells you the alarming words that your child has a life-threatening condition such as cancer, and there is little hope of cure. Would you give up and redirect your attention to other issues? Would any sane person ignore the threat and “do nothing”? Certainly not!
Here are three explanations why most people respond appropriately to the warnings of medical experts, but ignore the repeated warnings of our world’s expert scientists that life-threatening catastrophe is imminent:
1. If there is a problem, there’s nothing I can do that would make a difference. The first cause of irrational behavior is called “psychological numbing.” When our mind encounters a problem to which it perceives there is no solution, it shuts down the problem-solving energy that would have been focused there and redirects its attention to what is perceived to be doable tasks. We are prone to tune out the threat regardless of the consequences. We deal with the issue as though it doesn’t concern us or really doesn’t exist. We can be certain that once we tune out a problem, there will be no further effort to solve it. Psychological numbing does provide temporary avoidance of discomfort, but how wise is it to run away or play when the subsequent price to pay is so great?
The solution? We need to face real threats even if awareness creates discomfort. Awareness is the first step to applying common sense, i.e. the reasoning and wisdom most certain to create a solution. You and many others are needed to wake up others to partner in making the world a safer happier place.
2. Once the obstacle of “psychological numbing” is overcome, the second hurdle becomes more apparent. I realize there is a problem and I’d do something BUT I don’t know of anything I can do; and no one has shown me what I can do that will make any difference. This common perspective leads to the devastating apathy that comes when we engage the hopelessness/helplessness (H/H) response. Creative problem-solving does not come from apathy. If there were a solution, the H/H response makes it certain that we will not discover or create it.
3. Psychological numbing and the H/H response lead to the third formidable obstacle to taking action for world peace. Yes, I know there is a problem but it’s the other guys that are bad, not me. They are the ones who need to be changed. Besides, I have too many local priorities I must attend to. Our president, leaders, or God will have to take care of the global ones. The Hitlers, Bin Ladens, Ahmadinejads, and most prominent terrorists who advocate unleashing weapons of ultimate deception are unlikely to be receptive to change. They have closed their minds to reason and wisdom.
The Solution: The first urgent action step is to slay the enemy within. Until we confront the psychological numbing and the H/H response that directs our creative energy to less critical priorities, our passion for peace will remain imprisoned. We must convince sufficient peace advocates that Einstein’s solution to prevent catastrophe will work, but only with active participation. We have knowledge of the mental skills that create a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). ANWOT is easy to teach and learn. We have the mass media technology to rapidly educate our global population. We need only to excite our will. Knowledgeable people working together will be unstoppable. We require a limited number of committed insightful leaders. An old-fashioned pep rally can initiate the domino effect essential to survive and thrive in our new era of WUD. Popularizing common sense thinking is our newest weapon of mass construction (WMC). It is the wisest of the many alternative choices available to us.
Instinct equips every individual with the qualities that can predetermine us to become self-serving terrorists! We are all born pre-scripted to sustain our self and our tribe, like predator animals, without regard to the consequence to “not us.” The invention of language enabled us to grow knowledge, to become increasingly powerful creators, to compete, win, and dominate others. The simplistic either/or two-category early way of thinking that all immature minds first learn is marvelously designed to serve instinct’ssurvival of the fittest demands and the traditions of our ancestors. It promotes “good” and “right,” us of course, against “evil” and “wrong,” which must be them.
Either/or thinking sustains bigotry, prejudice, and destructive confrontation to assert dominance. Either/or thinking is the mother of terrorist dictators and their followers. Individuals limited in common sense thinking are compelled to obey the authority of instinct and tradition. Dictators themselves are controlled by the same irrational authority they impose on their followers. This two-category way of thinking remains prevalent!
If your nurturers educated you in the skills of common sense thinking and you have done so yourself, you have acquired some degree of self-mastery. Having freed yourself from instinct and current tradition to become your own person, you likely recognize the humane qualities that promote civility, respect the common interests of diverse individuals, and recognize the value of collaboration to sustain our shared needs and wants. You have the freedom to pursue your own good in your own way (J. S. Mill).
Who among us is most likely to enlighten those world citizens who remain enslaved to instinct and tradition, fate and circumstance? I refer to those stuck in the either/or thinking that characterizes tyrant leaders and the followers who provide dictators their power?
The answer: those mature and enlightened individuals who have the most to give and the most freedom to lose. If you are reading this essay, you are almost certain to be one of those individuals who can make a difference. “Bad guys” are only powerful because society’s leaders have yet to sufficiently educate immature minds with the mental skills that make common sense common. To the degree that an individual remains stuck in the immature two-category thinking we all first learn, they will remain blindly obedient to the either/or perspectives demanded by instinct, tradition, and thereafter human dictators, most of whom are self-serving.
Dictators’ followers have the same passion for peace and the well-being of their loved ones that is found in virtually everyone. Working together we can initiate the domino effect that rapidly, individual-by-individual, spreads the newer way of thinking. Intelligence in the service of instinct creates more potent dictators. Common sense wisdom applied to intelligence adds the awareness of global needs to the innate bias that limits us to local priorities. Common sense is the mental switch that “turns off” instinct’s demand to dominate others while it switches “on” collaboration for shared benefits. Collaboration is the preferred action pathway that replaces instinct’s competitiveness to assert superiority. Instinct and current tradition would have us focus on our differences and resolve them through conflict, but common sense recognizes that our common interests far outweigh our differences.
Dictators lead by edict; freed minds lead by example. We require only a minority of our most mature citizens to initiate the domino effect that will popularize ANWOT. We are required to become the each one teach one leaders who will initiate the viral spread of the newer way of thinking. It is the most certain, perhaps the only way to reach those imprisoned minds directed by instinct to become tyrant dictators or serve those who do. Yes, success is a long shot, but if enough of us join efforts, we will be unstoppable. We have the knowledge and all the technology we require to take on the Big Idea – World Peace. We lack only the will of a group of capable leaders. We need you!
Common sense wisdom has only recently led us to conclude that ownership of one’s muscles by another is immoral, especially if we are the slave rather than the master. It is time to free minds as well as muscles! WUDs have created the urgent need for each of us who can to make the mind-freeing, life-changing, world-saving ANWOT skills available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Substitute “I think I can ... I will ...we will” for the H/H words, “I don’t matter... I can’t... I won’t... All my priorities are more important.”