How can we explain the stunned silence of the crowds when President Obama mentioned the word “peace” in his acceptance speech? Like an abused wife, have we become so accustomed to the control tactics of global domestic abusers that we now see abuse as normal and peace as an impossible dream?
Domestic abuse gone global. It’s not just an intimate couple trapped in a cycle of abuse based on power and control, it’s all of us in the world. Global domestic abuse. Domestic abuse tactics include:
o Controlling what we do, who we see, who we talk to, what we read, where we go (The Patriot Act and Homeland Security, and their counterparts around the world)
o Limiting our outside involvement (Creating a climate of fear of traveling to unapproved countries such as Cuba, and restrictions of movement for travel and immigration across the US border)
• Male Privilege
o Treating us like a servant (Wage slaves)
o Making all the big decisions (WTO, World Bank, IMF, etc)
o Acting like the King of the Castle (All those experts we are expected to believe)
o Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles (Women still do not legally have equal rights, and what rights women do have are being challenged every day)
• Economic Abuse
o Preventing us from getting or keeping a job (We’ve all seen this)
o Making us ask for money (Mortgage applications, car loan applications, Health Insurance applications, Social Aid applications, Student loan applications, Grant applications, etc, etc, etc)
o Not letting us know about or have access to the (global) family income (Rich getting richer and poor getting poorer)
• Emotional Abuse (Turn on the TV and you’ll find all of these; hence the epidemic of mood-altering medications and suicides)
o Putting us down (If we’re not an expert, our ideas don’t count)
o Calling us names (Advertisements that imply “You’re ugly, fat, unlovable!” etc, if we don’t look like a model)
o Making us think we’re crazy (Prozac, Paxil, Ritalin, etc.)
o Making us feel bad about ourselves (“You’re a social reject if you don’t have the latest iPhone!” or whatever)
o Playing mind games (Too many to list)
o Humiliating us (Airport security)
o Making us feel guilty (Mortgage foreclosures, IMF loans with harsh conditions)
• Coercion and Threats
o Making us do illegal things (Invading countries is not legal)
o Making us drop charges (US ignores the World Court)
o Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt us (People jailed under the Patriot Act for just reading, talking, or not talking like Leah-Lynne Plante)
o Threatening to commit suicide (Suggesting that the world will end unless the economy keeps making the rich richer and the poor poorer)
o Making us afraid by using looks, actions, gestures (Turn on the TV and almost everywhere we see something trying to make us feel fear, such as a news show about terrorists)
o Smashing things (Atomic bombs blowing up cities, etc)
o Destroying our property (Our home, the Earth, is being destroyed by transnational corporations)
o Abusing pets (Species going extinct due to industrial pollution)
o Displaying weapons (Selling and using weapons seems to be the number one industry: the military-industrial complex)
There’s a lot more, but you get the idea. As you can see, the abusers are the super rich people who create transnational corporations that make the rich richer and the poor poorer, while buying up radio and TV stations and major newspapers to spread propaganda justifying the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and paying politicians to do their bidding. The victims of this global domestic abuse are all the rest of us: almost 7 billion people living on this globe.
When the abuser is an individual trying to control another individual, any domestic abuse hotline you may call will probably advise you to leave the situation and sever all ties, physical, financial, verbal, emotional, etc., with the abuser.
But when you’re a victim of global domestic abuse, you can’t leave the globe and go to another planet, as in Eric Frank Russell’s 1951 science fiction classic tale of a Gandhian utopian planet, …And Then There Were None. Like the Democrats, Republicans and other parties in Washington, and everyone on the planet, we all have to find a way to come together, dialog, and work things out. How can we, as President Obama said, “Do the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move . . . forward?”
A huge first step would be for abusers to take a lesson from one of their own: the late transnational CEO, Ray C. Anderson. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose–Doing Business by Respecting the Earth, he shows how he woke up from being an abuser and developed empathy and compassion.
In the United Kingdom there is a program for abusers to learn how to accept responsibility for their actions and reform their ways. Perhaps they can take their program to corporate headquarters around the world, Wall Street brokerage firms, and government offices of obstructionist politicians.
In the meanwhile, we can each develop our own state of life. I feel inspired by these words of Daisuku Ikeda, president of the lay Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International, which I jotted down during his 1990 live-simulcast speech from Los Angeles, California:
“When you feel entrapped by the chains of society, stand up with courage (compassion and wisdom) and your life will be as huge as the universe.”