Terms of Engagement

(An open series for reflecting on, and overcoming obstacles on the path to finding a World Solution that works.)

This is the first barrier. We are one, but not one, in that our ways are myriad.

Each society has differences, cultural norms of behavior, religious based rules, and laws that may address either equitably or unfairly.

We, as Americans, tend to see all these variations through the glass darkly when they do not align with our biased Western perspective.

I believe the largest obstacle is how to allow the greatest autonomy in cultural preservation and freedom while trying to prohibit abuse of any persons individually.

The answer, in my opinion cannot be raising McDonald’s in the shadow of temples world wide, and demanding homogenization to a Western template.

It is difficult to address any aspect of this without the intertwined other factors raising themselves.

On Culture

The cultural norms, music, the arts, standards of dress, diet and language do not exist in a vacuum. They are influenced by religion and the actual lands from which the people themselves came to create them.  The resources of their lands often were the template on which the culture grew.

Long before Islamic sharia laws, desert people covered themselves in long, loose fitting gowns to avoid hot and desiccating desert winds, and cold nights. Long before Jewish halakha law, the trichinosis in pork was killing people who had not the microbiology to understand why. Pork’s taboo was borne of inaccurate science as a medical solution.

To our eyes these may appear as archaic religious superstition.

But utter respect of a culture, education about said culture is tantamount to bringing people together. One needs to think only to how we have nearly eradicated the languages of the Native Americans in our own country, lost generational skills in making elaborate and beautiful clothing because we presumed our ways to be somehow “better”. Lost languages, lost songs, lost culture.

The animal husbandry, the agricultural knowledge we purged in our ignorance is untold.

The largest and oldest library on Earth was in what is now Iraq, lost Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts, the very history of writing and mathematics to fires and pillaging in 2003. Humans lacked respect of another’s culture and mindlessly destroyed it.

These arts, sciences and histories have been forever lost to mankind.

Unfortunately, Americans have little regard for history, as evidenced in our perpetual tearing down of our Historical landmarks to build skyscrapers and “Citibank” baseball parks. Rather than repair with reverence, we are a throw away society. We should not hold our exceptionalism dear, and use ourselves as a template.

While exposure to other types of music will always influence an artist, we tend to steal and bastardize other types rather than try and preserve them in their truest forms. This has been chronicled in both Native American and African drumming. The only sitar music we have heard is Ravi Shankar, people are mostly unaware of the 22 microtone scale used in their music.

These are wonders that must not be lost.

From Yup’ik ivory carvings, to a Japanese painting of a panda on a single hair, to Lakota brain tanning hide to the softest and whitest of cloths, to Anasazi sand paintings, westernization has diminished the value of training in the arts for each generation that has passed.

I believe it is of utmost importance to make as little impact on culture as possible when making allies of peoples. It is of utmost importance as well to study and learn from them, and allow them to study each other as well.

These are arts that should be fully supported and honored world-wide.

On Religion

The second, and sharpest barb that bisects humanity has always been religion.

It is also the the slipperiest slope in terms of human rights violations.

Who deems whether sacramental use of Peyote is a freedom, yet female genital mutilation is not? If a Sun Dancer willingly offers his flesh, if a Mexican chooses to reenact the crucifixion who says they may or may not? Who suffers a witch? Who stones an adulterer?

Of course, I find many of these things reprehensible.

I just do not know where I can draw the line over what one does with their own body, for their own religious beliefs into preserving an individual’s right to be unmolested by community pressure or fear. It is hard to say when “voluntary” is really “involuntary”.

On one hand, for a world coalition to work, we almost have to be isolationist in terms of keeping differing religions out of each others business. Remember, it is Christianity that made the human body dirty, and forced clothing on Tropical living people. Forcing religion from another culture on Indigenous peoples is reprehensible. People should be allowed their own, or none, should they choose.

I may even go so far to suggest that proselytizing itself be made taboo. Of course, that annihilates free speech completely. It is good to study other religions and understand them; yet we cannot close debate itself, or the study itself would become meaningless.

I have studied many religions, with a really open mind, and find them beautiful. Even if I do not agree with their conclusions, the intent, and often the rites and ceremonies are art unto themselves. Preservation of tradition is important from that perspective alone.

The adage of your rights stop short of my nose would not be applicable, as people baptize babies, and circumcise young men as part of their tradition and rites. It is problematic to draw that line without crossing into “Do embryos have rights?”

We haven’t perfected this in our own country, where atheists are treated like second class (read: unelectable) citizens and many laws are still based on one religion.

World-wide, women are oppressed and abused in the name of religion. Many are even killed in the process. It is reprehensible.

I would have to say, to start the process, at least, no comment can be made on religious practices or lack thereof at all.

I think in a society that has become educated, prosperous and healthy, the more extreme practices will fade of their own accord.

On Law

Of course, this will become a separate missive of itself in the future. For the moment, I want to address only the Law as it applies to the aforementioned Religion and Norms.

I think that no law should exist that legislates its citizens on the basis of Religion or suppression of culture. This includes marriage, one the US has yet to set free from religious law into secular law.

If one belongs to a sect, one is free to follow its tenets, but is not free to impose its tenets on any other citizen. Period.

Making the world come to agreement on this is absolutely crucial to a peaceable existence.

While areas could self-govern, no Law should be made to take or create an advantage over other peoples or lands. This, the Trade and Fairness acts, will also have to be addressed further elsewhere.

There has to be some type of planning and implementation structure to create infrastructure. Roads, schools, utilities, health care all need management. It only has to take as Sacred “Do no harm” to others, allow equal access to all.


Before the World can come together to stop the exploitation by the Few, the Ruling Elites, before any revolution of mind or blood takes place, mutual respect and understanding has to be a total commitment.

Culture must be preserved. Religious differences respected.

These are the First Obstacles.



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    • Diane G on November 30, 2008 at 23:59

    Meaning anyone can essay any part of these ideas, or related ideas and add it to the series.

    To ever unite the world, we need to figure out how, and no one has questions, answers, thoughts?

    Our own backyard is no longer good enough. C’mon.


    Who knows what we can come up with.

    This is step one.

  1. …I think a lot of our modern problems in outlook arose from a nineteenth-century way of looking at the world, which was in pyramid-fashion, with the “truest” on top of the pyramid and then other subsets being slightly inferior.

    The worst aspect of this legacy was in race relations.

    But if we don’t understand the root of the problem – i.e., this archiac mindset – then how do we root it out in our own psyches?

    Nice diary – thanks.

  2. A novice horseman atop a five year old gelding pulled back on the reigns to prevent an enthusiastic horse from jumping over a downed tree in the path.  I thought neither I nor my horse were ready for such a feat.  A few weeks later on level grass I “let him go” and he did respond with a gleeful fast canter again on a fine spring day.

    Well horses apparently have a memory that can last as one year later in the very same spot again on a fine spring day he “let himself go” in the very same spot I did last year.

    The moral of the story is thus.  We have become lost in the infinite minutia of details in this “complicated” contemporary society.

    We have lost the ability to connect with and cherish nature in it’s beauty and majesty.  We have lost our lust for timeless simple enjoyment and traded it for 6.2 second soundbytes electronically delivered to us multiple ways over highly anti-green power sucking redundant systems.

    Individualism and culture of any sort is to be wiped out.

    Those who can create profits in up or down markets can surely invent a universal religion designed to advance their profit goals and projections.

    They are after all dealing with low veilers for the most part.  

  3. of unity and globalism I can work for. I am half asleep right now but hope this is still here tomorrow when I can give this essay it’s due attention, and a response that’s sort of intelligible.    

    • Diane G on December 1, 2008 at 22:14

    1- Create a group of international scholars to make unbiased World History texts for appropriate grade levels.

    2- Use same group as oversight on “Country” histories to ensure that things such as South Africans reading Afrikkaner history, with none of their own involved, and equitable treatment of the Native American viewpoints are honored.

    3- Create and support exchange student programs again

    4- Make a “History of Religion” class available to HS students, and have each religion examined with respect.

    5- Give school credit for outside classes, or have available art and music programs available to all students, with special attention to regional arts/music, as well as a study of World art/music.

    Its starts with educated individuals, thats how societies become enlightened.

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