UPDATE Jan. 7, 2013: note comment at end from Garry Davis.
UPDATE Aug, 2013: Garry Davis passed away at the end of July, 2013. See this post.
Sunday [Jan 6,2013] I was privileged to be among nearly 100 people invited to a private preview of a very special eye-opening film, which has the potential to inspire the public with a new way of looking at the world.
In the documentary, which is still in development, World Citizen #1 Garry Davis engaged us with his fascinating life story. A riveting story-teller, he told us how his quest for a different kind of world began during World War II, when in the wake of his own brother being killed in action, he found himself killing German brothers and families in B-17 bomber runs on German cities.
He couldn’t see any sense in killing others to avenge the killing of his brother and this changed his life. He came to see no real sense in even national borders. In the end, he felt, people have to relate to other people, and figure out ways to get along, otherwise our human world cannot survive. Borders were artificial fences, especially as they defined countries.
His actions made him controversial.
The in progress film about Davis, which I think will be a very important one, develops the story of what happened later in Davis’ life, and how his commitment to peace could be a template for us all.
The screening was co-sponsored by Global Solutions Minnesota, World Citizen (founded by Lynn Elling and others in 1972), A Million Copies, and Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. The Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul was also co-sponsor and great host for the event, which was presented in their theater at St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis.
Of course, life is not always simple. Paradoxically, on the same Sunday of the screening, another “war” was about to break out.
President Obama is nominating former Sen. and Vietnam War veteran Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and the issue appears to be drawn on whether Hagel will be sufficiently tough as a representative of American interests. Much will be said in coming days. Here’s a good summary of the first salvos.
This nomination battle is well worth watching.
Garry Davis is still very much alive, at 91, and at the screening on Sunday was Minneapolitan Lynn Ellling, near 92, who remains a lion in the quest for World Citizenship and Peace.
After the screening, about half of us stayed for an interesting Skype conversation between Garry Davis and Lynn Elling and others on the topic of world citizenship.
(click on photos to enlarge)
Such a topic, Peace, is not a simple one, and there are differences of opinions of how one achieves lasting Peace, but the importance lies in the potential good of the conversation, and of working together to resolve differences.
Garry Davis – and his counterpart Lynn Elling – experienced War up front and very personally in WWII, and neither considers War an option for achieving Peace.
In the War paradigm, which the upcoming debate over Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is all about, the only conversation will be about the Power of one nation to dominate others, in my opinion.
I had seen an early draft of the Davis film in October, 2012, and it caused me to do reflecting on my own about the issues raised, long before the January 6 preview.
Indeed, Davis was and still is “controversial”.
So, too, were Nelson Mandela who endured years of prison before becoming a world hero; and more recently Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Laureate from Myanmar who couldn’t accept her award in person for fear that she wouldn’t be allowed back in her own country, and endured 21 years of house arrest within her own country, and made one of her first public international statements to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College in Minneapolis in March 2012. Most recently, she had as a house guest, President Obama.
There is a very long list of “controversial” people who have made a difference and can be role models for us.
Being controversial is often very desirable and good.
I also remembered a couple of sentences written by Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, Why We Can’t Wait, published in 1964, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy.
King had not long before endured the Birmingham Jail and some months later gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington DC Mall.
He wrote this in his book:
“I am reminded of something President Kennedy said to me at the White House following the signing of the Birmingham agreement.
“Our judgment of Bull Connor should not be too harsh” he commented. “After all, in his way, he has done a good deal for civil-rights legislation this year.”
Immediately following these sentences, King says this, a message to all of us: “It was the people who moved their leaders, not the leaders who moved the people….”
We of that generation tend to forget a crucial fact: at the time of this conversation, Martin Luther King Jr was 33 years old; President John F. Kennedy was 46.
When Lynn Elling MC’ed the event where Minneapolis and Hennepin County became the first World Citizenship city and county in the United States on May 1, 1968, Lynn was 47 years old. Three years later, in March, 1971, Minnesota as a state became World Citizen. Mr Elling was heavily involved in both actions, which were non-partisan and had a very impressive list of bi-partisan supporters.
The future is with the young. We need to help them choose a path which will give them a positive future.
UPDATE Jan 7. 2013: received from Garry Davis:
Great blog! Loved it! So happy you referred to my personal “history” site ( a real archaic opus compared to what one sees today, but still containing some interesting archival material). For instance, under “World Citizenship Movement & the World Government,” in the 3nd para. starting “In 2 years over 750,000 people registered, etc.” you will note “In June, ‘mondialized’ Cahors.”
This small southern French town (famous for its wine) actually started the “Mundialization Movement” from which the 1971 statement of “Mundialization” of the State of Minnesota derived followed by the State of Iowa on October 25, 1973. (For the full list see here). [NOTE: Minneapolis and Hennepin County MN mundialized March 5, 1968.]
Colonel Robert Sarrazac, former Maquis during WWII and my principal “organization” in Paris, was the author of the first “Mundialization” declaration.
Maybe a footnote could be added to fill out this important item.
Looking forward to having the pleasure of meeting you in the Spring.
Warmly, in one global village,