Part of the difficulty on our planet is the fixed way nations have of reacting to a challenge or threat from another nation. This in turn is the result of the nature of our loyalties. We have loyalties to family, town and state; but our highest loyalty is to our nation and the ideology it represents. While the nation contributes to the preservation of our values and culture, it is also the final source of secular power and authority over our lives. (However, in most cases, it derives these powers through some measure of consent and loyalty from its citizens.) It is the structure through which we confront other nation states with similar powers. In the present inertia that exists at the apex of our nation states, there seems little chance of the great changes needed to heal the spirit of the world and harmonize mankind's deepest aspirations -- unless something new is done.
While their present use of power provides temporary mutual deterrence, the grave responsibility and ever increasing danger places the key nations in a tragic paradox. Military and security responsibilities augment fear and stifle cooperation. They hinder effective action for solving social and environmental problems.
A new and effective way to overcome this difficulty is to give the responsibility for global peace to the cities and towns of the world. This would have many advantages.
What I am proposing is not that we be disloyal to our nation, but that we give a strengthened and more active loyalty to our family and town. Society will benefit from such a change for it will provide more local responsibility and pride in the institutions most directly related to our welfare. Through a "Council for World Cities and Towns," that loyalty can be extended around the world to the whole human family. This will not be a political or ideological alliance, but an alliance of work and friendship. Loyalties to the nation would continue, as would differences in political and ideological views, but these will be tempered by a global network of ever increasing cooperation and mutual trust.
The Council of World Cities and Towns will direct its efforts to extending the Earth Trustee program throughout the world. A Short-cut to massive participation would be to work through existing regional organizations (such as Council of Communities, League of Municipalities -- etc.) and through them extend the Earth Trustee Program.
Activities and groupings of towns will be based , not on national identity but on natural affinities of trade, industry, climate and culture. Global subdivisions could be mountain, coastal, plains, tropical, temperate, Arctic, industrial, mining agricultural. Cooperation and assistance for this could be sought from the already functioning Sister City Program, which the Earth Trustee program could strengthen and support.
The Council will seek to inspire loyalty through the family and local community to the whole human family.
The Council of World Cities and Towns will seek to have all municipalities form their own independent Earth Trustee Committees with a common allegiance to the Earth Magna Charta. It will assist them by providing information on what others are doing and where information and help can be obtained.
The World Council of Cities and Towns will form an International Harmonizing Council which will be comprised of world humanitarians, scientists, educators, business men, and religious leaders. They will be aided by representatives of national and international public relations and publicity organizations. Others who can assist in the success of this organization will be those in the behavioral sciences concerned with the problems of communications. This Council will search in a world of discord, for those ideas and programs that have the best chance of being accepted internationally as world goals. They will seek to obtain headlines and human interest stories for the activities in the Earth Trustee efforts that dramatize our common humanity and our pursuit of global goals we share.
John McConnell 5-19-96
Note: Council of World Cities and Towns was first presented to Habitat 1 in Vancouver. While this statement has a few changes its basic message is the same.
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