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The Prescription for World Peace


by Izzy Kalman (December 2004)

Politics and Mental Health I take my seminar evaluations very seriously, especially the negative ones. Even though I dread reading them, they are the ones that teach me the most.

One seminar participant wrote that she lost respect for me because I spoke of politics – terrorism in particular. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should take her advice. Why risk alienating people by mentioning political issues?”

Weeks later the answer hit me. If I took this advice I would literally have to stop talking (which would make my kids very happy). Virtually anything I say can be offensive to someone because of their political views. And every aspect of mental health is the result of political activism by professional or lay groups at the expense of others with conflicting agendas.

Pretending that psychology has nothing to do with politics takes out neither the politics from psychology nor the psychology from politics. But it does affect our ability to make intelligent political decisions.

War and Peace

The same time that modern technology makes our lives more comfortable, it also brings closer the possibility of apocalyptic war. No wonder people never stop hoping and praying for peace. The good news is that we already possess the prescription for peace. It is right under our noses.

The bad news is that we are in danger of losing the solution to peace because most of us don’t recognize it. So the most important thing I can possibly do is open people’s eyes to the simple path to World Peace.

What is this wondrous solution? I’ll give you a hint. Have you ever noticed that modern democracies never go to war with each other? Every war today involves at least one dictatorship. Well, this is no coincidence. Democratic countries don’t go to war because of the NATURE of democracy. This also means that warfare would become a thing of the past if all the world’s nations were democratic. (My good friend Jamey Breinberg has brought to my attention that what we call “democracies” are really “republics.” So I use the word “democracy” colloquially, to denote countries whose leaders are elected by the citizens in free, multiparty elections.)

We take democracy for granted. We think it is the normal way of government. But it isn’t. We should be extremely grateful to be living in a democracy. Dictatorship has always been the normal form of government. Many countries in the world are still dictatorships, and no one is waiting in line to go live in them.

Once every several thousand years, an invention comes along that allows a quantum leap for humanity. One such invention was agriculture. It freed us from the shackles of foraging for food, and within ten thousand years, the human population on earth jumped from about 10 million to over 6 billion!

When the population density of a species increases, violence increases. In order to prevent the rapidly expanding human population from eradicating itself, our ancestors developed CIVILIZATION, which is highlighted by LIVING BY LAWS. This has worked remarkably well, but has nevertheless left us with an undesirable level of violence in the form of WAR between nations.

The solution to this problem is DEMOCRACY. Democracy is the single most significant social advance in the history of civilization. Democracy enables phenomenal prosperity while eliminating warfare between nations that practice it

Why don’t democracies wage war with each other? Read on.

The Difference between Dictatorship and Democracy

The reason democracies don’t go to war with one another is due to the different psychological ramifications of dictatorship and democracy.

The fundamental difference between dictatorship and democracy is this: In dictatorships, people’s actions represent the will of the leader. In democracy, the leaders’ actions represent the will of the people. In other words, in dictatorship, if we don’t make our LEADERS happy, they kill us. In a democracy, if our leaders don’t make US happy, we vote them out of office.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DICTATORSHIP

When we live in dictatorship, it’s child’s play for our leaders to fool us. They incessantly bombard us with stories of their heroism and virtue. Since none of us want to die, we don’t dispute these stories.

Not wanting us to realize they are the true cause of our miserable standard of living, our leaders have the media inform us that our suffering is due to some evil group or nation taking advantage of us. Our religious leaders glorify our rulers and preach hatred against this enemy group or nation because clergymen, too, want to live.

Our leaders can declare war in a blink since it doesn’t matter what we think. They give us a choice between immediate certain death at home or possible survival on the battlefront, and we choose the battlefront.

Convinced that our “enemies” deserve to die, we eagerly stage demonstrations against them. We never hold demonstrations against our own leaders. Residents of democracies see our unanimous support for our leaders and often take it to be a sign of how correct our cause must be. But there are two real reasons for this monolithic support: 1) we don’t want our leaders to kill us, and 2) we live without freedom of speech, so we have no way of knowing that our leaders are lying to us. We can’t even IMAGINE that there’s anything about our leadership to protest.

Sometimes our leaders hold “elections.” We are asked to choose between our leaders or death. Our leaders win hands down.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DEMOCRACY

In a democracy, our leaders CAN fool us, but it’s much harder. They can’t get away wit ripping out the tongues of those who ridicule them, and they don’t have absolute control of the media or the government. We can publicly call our leaders idiots and worse, and they still have to make us like them or they’ll be browsing the Help Wanted. The opposing party is constantly on the lookout for our leaders’ blunders, and busloads of reporters search endlessly for dirt on them. This helps keep our leaders honest.

War is our leaders’ last option because we won’t vote for them if they spill our children’s blood for their personal gain.

When our country has a problem with a fellow democracy, the leaders of both sides will always find a less violent solution than war. That’s because the best way to lose their power is by unnecessarily sending citizens’ children to die.

It is relatively easy for our leaders to convince us to go to war against a dictatorship because their evil ways provide plenty of justification. It would be practically impossible for our leaders to convince us to go to war against another democracy. So for other countries to be safe from attack from the powerful democracies, it is also in their best interest to be democracies.

Why Democracies are Stronger than Dictatorships

Open your eyes and you will notice that the democracies of the world are far stronger than the dictatorships. This is not accidental. And it is not because we are more ruthless exploiters than dictators. It is because our system of government is better.

Think of your body. It is comprised of approximately one hundred trillions cells! For you to be a healthy individual, your cells have to be healthy. Your body has a system for monitoring the well-being of all your cells and sends help where needed. Without this self- monitoring system, we couldn’t survive. Could you imagine how long you would live if your body only sent orders to the cells without concern for the condition and needs of your cells?

A nation is no different. To be healthy, its individuals have to be healthy. The better the communication between the individuals and the nation, the healthier the nation is.

A dictatorship is like your body with no concern for the cells. Communication flows in one direction – from the leader to the people, and they had better obey or they die. The dictator is not overly concerned with the well- being of his people because he will have absolute power and incredible wealth regardless. But the nation will be weak because the system doesn’t provide the masses with the means to be healthy and prosperous.

Democracy, in contrast, is like your body communicating intimately with your cells. The voting system enables people to give regular feedback to the government on their condition. Since the leaders know that it will be good for them, too, if their voters are happy and healthy, they need to ensure that voters get what they need. The democratic model of self- regulation is much closer to that of a body in nature and is therefore far more vibrant and effective than dictatorship.

The Advantage of Dictatorship over Democracy

If democracies are stronger than dictatorships, how can dictatorships challenge democracies? It is because they have an advantage. If a dictator wants to declare war, he has no resistance from his own people. They stand up for him because they don’t want him to kill them and because they only know what he lets them know.

But democracies have freedom of speech and their citizens are permitted to develop and maintain contrary opinions. Dictators can use this to neutralize the power of the democracies. Since the dictatorships really ARE weaker than their democratic foes, it is easy for them to present themselves as innocent victims and gain the sympathy of the democratic opponent’s citizens. Since those citizens want to avoid war, an internal struggle arises between those who support the war and those who oppose it. This can immobilize the government. To make matters more difficult, other democracies may take the side of the dictatorship because they, too, have sympathy for the weaker side. These processes weakens the democracy and embolden the dictatorship.

The Danger of Taking Democracy for Granted

Who today recognizes what’s special about democracy? It’s certainly not taught in our schools and universities. Raised on the values of equality and diversity, we have come to see each other as different but equal individuals. Unfortunately, we then invite dictatorships to join our celebration of diversity and mistakenly treat them as a different but equal system of government to democracy. As proof, the membership committee of the UN does not discriminate between democracies and dictatorships.

But dictatorship and democracy aren’t “different but equal.” With all its faults, democracy is incomparably better than dictatorship, both for the individual and the nation as a whole.

Like a man selling a diamond for peanuts at a garage sale because he thought it was cubic zirconium, we may lose democracy because we fail to appreciate it’s incredible superiority to dictatorship. Millions of who enjoy the benefits of life under democracy give their support to cruel dictators because they see them as the victims of their powerful democratic opponents. Unfortunately, as weapons become more deadly, we may one day all be wiped out because the democracies of the world neutralized each other when faced with some megalomaniac dictator.

Please take note! Nothing in this article is meant to imply that everything a democratic country does is good. Far from it. But a democracy has much greater potential for doing good and being right than does a dictatorship because it more closely represents the will of the people.

How to Bring World Peace with One Billion Dollars

Can we bring about world peace without going to war? I think it may be possible. The United States currently invests billions of dollars weekly fighting for democracy. I believe that if the nation truly wanted to bring democracy to the world, it could accomplish far more with one percent of the expenditure. The tool: education. We haven’t taken it seriously enough.

A dictator would never feel emboldened enough to challenge a powerful democracy if he could not count on the internal dissent within democracy. But democracies will never completely unite as long as they don’t see the difference between themselves and dictatorship. For the sake of the future of civilization, the citizens of democracies need to be educated about this difference. And if we are really to live by the Golden Rule, we should all be fighting for the right of the residents of dictatorships to enjoy the freedoms we have under democracy.

With modern technology, a billion dollars can go a very long way in spreading education about democracy. Who in their right mind would conclude that dictatorship is better than democracy once the diffences are pointed out to them? In the first stage, efforts need be directed only towards education within the democratic countries. Once the democracies are united in their appreciation of democracy, the dictatorships can then be targeted. Most residents of dictatorships would eagerly embrace democracy once the advantages are clearly explained to them. Since most dictatorships are ultimately dependent upon the economies of the world’s democracies for their wealth and power, it wouldn’t be hard for a unified democratic world to use economic sanctions to force dictators to allow a peaceful transition to democratic rule.

Do I believe this dream is possible? I may be crazy, but I think it is the ONLY way to a world of peace. Do I THINK it will come true? I doubt it. But I hope I am wrong.

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