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Diarmuid O’Murchu: Ch. 11 - Political Responsibility for the Homeward Bound O’Murchu’s view: Our “primal political legacy” (177) is much older than ancient.

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Presentation on theme: "Diarmuid O’Murchu: Ch. 11 - Political Responsibility for the Homeward Bound O’Murchu’s view: Our “primal political legacy” (177) is much older than ancient."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diarmuid O’Murchu: Ch. 11 - Political Responsibility for the Homeward Bound O’Murchu’s view: Our “primal political legacy” (177) is much older than ancient Greece, “if we take politics to denote forms of social organization to facilitate co-operative and just use of resources.” Heck’s questions: Co-operative? Just? What kind of evidence supports such a naïve, wishful vision of our “primal” political legacy? Has the author been reading too much Jean- Jacques Rousseau?

2 Rousseau’s idealistic notion of the “bon sauvage” Rousseau (1712-1778) saw a fundamental divide between society and human nature. Rousseau contended that man was good by nature, a "noble savage" when in the state of nature (the state of all the "other animals," and the condition humankind was in before the creation of civilization and society), but man is corrupted by society.

3 A contrasting view of early humans: that of Kubrick in 2001 a Space Odyssey … anything but cooperative and just, (in contrast to J-J Rousseau’s view of the “bon sauvage”)

4 Yet another view of early humans: The Carib Indians, portrayed this way: Caribs (kăr'ĭbz), native people formerly inhabiting the Lesser Antilles, West Indies. They seem to have overrun the Lesser Antilles and to have driven out the Arawak about a century before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Arawak The original name by which the Caribs were known, Galibi, was corrupted by the Spanish to Caníbal and is the origin of the English word cannibal. Extremely warlike and ferocious, they practiced cannibalism and took pride in scarification (ritual cutting of the skin) and fasting. The Carib language was spoken only by the men, while the women spoke Arawak. This was so because Arawak women, captured in raids, were taken as wives by the Carib men. source of this narrative: Fr. Breton, recorded in 17 th c. (illustration: pure fantasy)

5 O’Murchu’s overview and assumptions Is our species really 4-7 million years old? (p.22) (It depends on what you call human! Homo sapiens has only been around for 200,000 yrs. See handout.) Have “we” been grappling with religious questions for some 70,000 years before the formal religions ever emerged? (p. 7) (It depends on how you read archaeological burial sites and artifacts.) Ice-age art, c.40,000-10,000 BCE. The “rise of patriarchy” – 10,000 years ago The Age of Civilization: 3-5,000 years ago For 95% of our “story” we supposedly were “cooperative.” (p. 180)

6 Another overview: that of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin If evolution tends toward ever greater consciousness and complexity, then we must accept that lesser forms of life preceded greater ones, and that the 4.7-to-7 million year pre-history of humankind was not necessarily one of “justice” or “cooperation.”

7 Cooperation? Does this look cooperative? Most hominid species arose and became extinct. Homo sapiens has only been around for 200,000 years, give or take. Did incarnation begin 4.5 million years ago, when “the first fully hominid creature evolve on earth”? (223) O’Murchu thinks so. (Forgive me if I dissent.)

8 Fra Angelico (ca.1387-1455), Annunciation

9 Annunciation tapestry, Flanders, c.1500-1525

10 Henry Tanner. The Annunciation (1898) Oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art

11 Back to O’Murchu’s View: What went wrong? What made us unjust and uncooperative? 1.Climate change caused us humans to have “an adversarial relationship to nature and to the earth.” (p. 180) 2.Gender stratification occurred, with the male perceiving itself as the superior form. 3.Males made a deliberate attempt to undermine the female understanding of nature and the Earth. 4.Male gods claimed un- questioned ascendancy over all of life (age of patriarchy). Homo Heidelbergensis, according to a recent BBC-TV documentary.

12 Information Regarding Climate Change over the last 3 million years From the web site: At 2.8 million years ago, the human family tree split into at least two major branches, Paranthropus and Homo. At 1.7 million years ago, humans' most immediate ancestor, Homo erectus, first appeared. At 1 million years ago, Paranthropus had died out and great numbers of Homo erectus began to migrate out of Africa into a variety of regions and habitats in Europe and Asia. Homo sapiens appears ca.200,000 years ago

13 William Irwin Thompson’s View (author of Coming into Being,1996) Educators need to appreciate that catastrophe bifurcations are part of the dynamic of the unfolding of the evolution of con- sciousness. When the weather changes and the forests exper- ience dessication, the primates are forced out into the open of the savannah. So another way of looking at this structural de- velopment of human culture is to see it as a movement through the various cultural ecologies. 1. Silvan (The prehominid evolution of Ramapithecus ) 2. Savannahan (from Australopithecus to Homo erectus ) 3. Glacial (from archaic Homo sapiens to modern Homo sapiens ) 4. Riverine (ancient civilizations) 5. Transcontinental (classical civilizations) 6. Oceanic (modern industrial nation-state societies) 7. Biospheric (planetary noetic polities)

14 Thompson’s view is not far from that of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin especially with regard to the “noetic polities” of the biosphere – the 7 th “cultural ecology” he discerns

15 Question: If we humans and our ancestors were not always “cooperative” and “just” in our relations among ourselves and with the earth, have we gotten any better in modern times? Is it time for a musical interlude? Consider the “Merry Minuet” by Sheldon Harnick (author of Fiddler on the Roof), made famous by the Kingston Trio in their first live concert album, From the Hungry (1959):

16 Merry Minuet They're rioting in Africa (whistle) They're starving in Spain (whistle) There's hurricanes in Flo-ri-da (whistle) And Texas needs rain (whistle). The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles; Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch, AND I DON'T LIKE ANYBODY VERY MUCH!! lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock, 1953 (in G)

17 Merry Minuet But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud, For man's been endowed with a mushroom- shaped cloud And we know for certain that some lovely day, Someone will push the button AND WE WILL ALL BE BLOWN AWAY!! They're rioting in Africa (whistle) There's strife in Iran (whistle). What nature doesn't so to us (whistle). Will be done by our fellow man.

18 Politics, politics! Village Politics -- Engraving by Jazet, 1820)

19 What are we talking about today when we speak of Politics? Dictionary definitions, for example, "the art and science of government" Textbook definitions, notably, a "process of conflict resolution in which support is mobilized and maintained for collective projects". -- An Introduction to Government and Politics... Dickerson and Flanagan Theorists, such as Harold Lasswell, who defined politics as "who gets what, when, where, and how.“ Bio-political theorists hold that “politics is a macrotool created by humans to organize for the collective survival of the group or polity. In effect, organizing and promoting survival is the purpose, reason and practice of politics.” and Practitioners like Mao Zedong, who said "Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." and Otto von Bismarck's cryptic remark, "Politics is the art of feasibility."

20 What is the most current “internet” take on politics? Wikipedia’s view: Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within governments, politics is observed in all human (and many non-human) group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions.

21 Back to O’Murchu: Something he calls the “central concern” of this chapter “The dualism between Church and State is one of the most sinister and dangerous collusions of our contemporary world” (p.181) “Two powerful institutions have agreed to keep splitting reality apart because it enhances their own patriarchal compulsion to divide and conquer.”

22 There are two current views in the USA on the separation of Church and State And those who favor faith-based governance: An alternative logo to the Icthus (Christian fish symbol) and to the Darwin fish-with-legs symbol: There are those who favor separation, as in this “Intelligent Design” cartoon;

23 Back to O’Murchu’s “Central Concern” “In fact there is a three-way split: religion, politics, and economics.” (p. 181) The “multinationals” are the greatest threat to political sustainability. The people are “dubious and cynical” over the dysfunctionality of politics. (p. 182) Sustainability requires us to “rehabilitate moral and ethical values… that promote justice as a core value.” (p. 186)

24 An authentic praxis of justice: Begins with an empathetic solidarity with those condemned to experience life as non-persons. Our passion must be evoked so that we can go the extra mile. Prophetic outrage is the third step in the work for justice. (p. 187-188)

25 Being political in a new way “To opt out rather than stay in may, in fact, be quite a Christian response.” (p. 188) (In politics, I don’t think the LWV would agree! But in religion… we know many who have already opted out.) O’Murchu: “I am consciously advocating a subversive strategy for future political engagement. Current models of political activity are largely beyond reform.” (p. 189)

26 Subversive? Why not! The internet is subversive!

27 The Internet – worldwide coverage






33 There are many subversive Web sites on the Internet today. Yours truly has even mounted one at It modestly proposes turning mideast policy on its head, revisiting how we govern Antarctica, and applying the same non-sovereign-state status to the Holy Land.


35 There are many subversive Web sites on the Internet today. The NAPF site features these links to similar organizations : Nuclear Weapons > Abolition 2000 > Alliance for Nuclear Accountability > Arms Control Association > British American Security Information Council > Bulletin of Atomic Scientists > Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament > Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute > Center for Defense Information > Council for a Livable World > Down Winders > For Mother Earth International > Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) > Global Security Institute > Hiroshima Peace Museum http://www.cns.miis.eduwww.cdi.orgwww.clw.org http://www.gracelinks.orghttp://www.gsinstitute.org

36 The NAPF site features these links to similar organizations : Nuclear Weapons > International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) > International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP) > International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility > International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) > Japan Council Against A Bombs (Gensuikyo) > Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy > Moving Beyond Missile Defense > Nagasaki Peace Museum bomb/museum/museume01.html > Nuclear Control Institute > Nuclear Files > Nuclear Free Local Authorities > Nuclear Resister > Physicians for Social Responsibility > Proposition One > Reaching Critical Will http:// > Shundahai Network > Western States Legal Foundation http://www.inesglobal.orghttp://www.ippnw.org bomb/museum/museume01.htmlhttp://www.nci.orghttp://www.nuclearfiles.org

37 The NAPF site features these links to similar organizations Peace and War > 20/20 Vision > Boston Research Center > Buddhist Peace Fellowship > Carnegie Endowment for International Peace > Center for the Advancement of Non-Violence > Committee for Nuclear Responsibility > Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation > Federation of American Scientists > Fellowship of Reconciliation > Fourth Freedom Forum > Friends Committee on National Legislation > GandhiServe Foundation > Global Action to Prevent War > International Campaign to Ban Landmines > International Peace Bureau > Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles > Opportunities for Youth in Peace and Security > Pax Christi USA http://www.paxchristiusa.orghttp://www.2020vision.org Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundationwww.fas.org for Youth in Peace and Security

38 The NAPF site features these links to similar organizations Peace and War > Peace Educators Network > Peace Flag > Peace Museum > PeacePeople > PeaceWire > Ploughshares > Progetto Humus, a project of Legambiente Solidarietà-Italia. > Santa Barbara Independent Media Center > School of the Americas > Student Pugwash USA > Science for Peace > The National Campaign on peace education. > Transition Institute > Union of Concerned Scientists > World Council of Nuclear Workers (WONUC) > Veterans for Peace > Volunteers For Peace (VFP) > Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) > World Association of International Studies (WAIS)

39 The NAPF site features these links to similar organizations International Law > Coalition for an International Criminal Court > Citizens for Global Solutions > United Nations > USA for the ICC > World Federation of United Nations Association http://www.wfuna.org Nuclear Waste and Energy > IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency > Information for Action > Natural Resources Defense Council > Nuclear Control Institute > Nuclear Information Resource Service > The Nuclear Threat Initiative's > The Radiation and Public Health Project http://www.radiation.orghttp://www.iaea.org

40 Finally, some food for thought…

41 From the “Verse and Voice” daily service offered by Sojourners Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions by many people in many countries. It is an attitude, a way of life, a way of solving problems and resolving conflicts. It cannot be forced on the smallest nation or enforced by the largest. It cannot ignore our differences or overlook our common interests. It requires us to work and live together. Oscar Arias Sanchez, in his 1987 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

42 … from an Essay by Garrison Keillor in Time (Aug. 25, 2003) After four years of an action-hero governor, it is a relief to go back to politics as usual, where soft-spoken people with ordinary chest sizes sit down and do the work… … politics isn’t a story; it’s a process. It’s not about confrontation and threat and revenge and triumph. It’s mostly about civility…

43 … from an Essay by Garrison Keillor in Time (Aug. 25, 2003) Most men and women in politics are there because they genuinely like people and want to do good things on their behalf. It’s hard work, and fury isn’t the best motivation. You have to sit through the meetings, listen to other people, and be civil about it. Anger and loathing are losing hands in politics.

44 … from an Essay by Garrison Keillor in Time (Aug. 25, 2003) You go for a walk on a summer night and notice the little ramps carved into curbs at street corners. People sat through a lot of meetings to get that accomplished. It was a boon to the wheelchair crowd and also to parents pushing strollers and kids riding bikes. It made life slightly more civil and friendly. Government works through small, incremental changes…

45 Some recent thoughts by Jim Wallis, as circulated in SojoMail If It's Not Good News, It's Not Evangelical I was at Bethel University in the Twin Cities on Tuesday. Known as a conservative evangelical school in Minnesota, and located in the heartland of the American Midwest, Bethel has long been regarded as a safe and secure place for conservative Republican politics - and even as fertile ground for recruiting by the Religious Right. And in the last two elections, most Bethel students certainly would have voted for George W. Bush. But the wind is changing at Bethel, as it is among a new generation of evangelical students across the country. Yesterday was a dramatic demonstration of that change, one that will be most significant for both faith and politics in America.

46 Some recent thoughts by Jim Wallis, as circulated in SojoMail I started my day at Bethel by speaking in chapel and asking a new generation to "clear up the confusion" in this nation about what it means to follow Jesus. I asked them if they wanted to be true evangelicals, defined by the root meaning of the word "evangel," which literally means "good news." The word was first used by Jesus in his opening statement in Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4, where he defined his own mission by saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news ("the evangel") to the poor....” I told the young evangelical audience that any gospel that wasn't good news to the poor simply wasn't the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was clear from the response in chapel that a new generation of evangelical Christians want to be, like Jesus, good news to the poor. And because of that their agenda is now much broader and deeper than just the two things the Religious Right continues to talk about as the only "moral values" issues - abortion and gay marriage. The Bethel students, like me, still believe that the sanctity of life and healthy family values are indeed important issues. In fact, they are too important to be turned into political wedge issues to get votes at election time.

47 Some recent thoughts by Jim Wallis, as circulated in SojoMail We need a deeper moral discussion of both those questions than we find occurring in the political arena today, but there are clearly no longer just two moral values issues for this evangelical generation. They care deeply about poverty, global warming, sex trafficking, human rights, genocide in Darfur, and the ethics of war in Iraq. And they are eager for an agenda that will call forth their best gifts, energies, and the commitment of their lives. This generation won't accept the narrowing of scripture to only two hot-button social issues and have found those 2,000 verses in the Bible that speak of God's concern for the poor and vulnerable. For them, environmental concern is "creation care." And they want a "consistent ethic of life" that addresses all the places where human life and dignity is threatened - not just one.

48 Some recent thoughts by Jim Wallis, as circulated in SojoMail That doesn't mean that their votes, which conservative Republicans have taken for granted, will now automatically go to liberal Democrats. Instead, they are eager to challenge the selective moralities of both left and right, and respond to a moral agenda for politics that will hold both sides accountable. In the future, any candidate (from either party) who speaks the moral language of politics and lifts up the issues of social justice the Bible talks so much about could attract the attention of this new generation. The chapel was packed; every seat in the house was taken. I told them that faith is for the "big stuff," that politics was failing to solve our deepest crises, and that it was a time for faith-inspired movements to change both politics and history as we have done many times before, invoking the abolition of slavery campaign and the civil rights movement, among others. When the students rose to their feet at the end it didn't just feel like a standing ovation, but rather an altar call, with students standing to say they want their faith and their lives to make a difference in our world.

49 THE END –Thanks for your attention!

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