Danger and Opportunity: A Time to Start Moving Toward Unitive Justice
Today, on the anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of sovereign Ukraine, as 141 countries in the U.N. General Assembly voted to demand withdrawal of Russian troops and an end to the fighting, and amidst massive compassion for the courage and stamina of Ukrainians, expressed in buildings across the European Union lit up in blue and yellow, we face an urgent question — what next?
At this juncture, we are watching play out all the deadliest ways of an old world, and we are also hearing the growing rumblings of humanity — in organizations, initiatives, and forums from Africa to the United States, from Europe to Asia — saying we don’t want to be forced to take sides in the maneuvers of a military-industrial complex that is causing hunger and threatening planetary disaster. We want real solutions.
The world has been unanimous that the invasion of a sovereign country is off limits in the 21st century. But everything that led up to that invasion, as well as the political methods used since, has caused more chagrin than wholehearted support. Despite large-scale media campaigns to convince people that the West and Ukraine are simply fighting for democracy, it is now publicly known that much of the actual U.S. diplomacy in the past 10 years was highjacked by the military-industrial complex and was not at all conducive to deepening the peace process or to a collaborative relationship with Russia. The United States withdrew from two nuclear treaties in the past 10 years and ignored earlier appeals on the part of Russia to stop military expansion and establish more collaborative agreements. Its arrogant insistence on being the protector of democracy and human rights despite its own questionable history and shadow practices, its clearly stated ambition to dominate rather than collaborate to establish a more equitable world climate, all played a part in the return to Cold War polarization between East and West. And tensions between Russian-and-Ukrainian-speaking populations in Ukraine were not always handled in a consistently democratic manner. Does that justify invasion, atrocities on civilians and the abduction of children?
The answer is obvious. People do know the difference between right and wrong.
We cannot keep using the old methods that have been proven not to work and expect new results. Playing hardball and vying for domination are not a path to peace and human security. Making others the enemy and denying our own responsibility in complex historical processes has always been the path to war — we cannot expect it to ensure safety and a future for our children. We cannot keep questioning the credibility and good intentions of any country that offers to broker ceasefire and negotiations, while we do not question our own global ambitions.
We do have an alternative to military expansion and ideological black-and-white binary narratives that divide the world into for and against. A crisis always presents a balance between danger and opportunity.
This moment is opportune for all of us who want a viable future on this planet to press for processes of unitive justice to begin. What does that mean?
Unitive justice is the next stage in our collective evolution. It is the only sustainable path forward for an increasingly interdependent planetary civilization. It reflects what science is now describing as the reality of the oneness of all life despite the appearance of separateness.
Unlike the punitive justice we have become accustomed to, which leaves a historical trail of resentments and grudges that flare up sooner or later, as the war in Ukraine has illustrated, unitive justice recognizes that we all co-create the reality that affects us and that we can only achieve more stable and just solutions if everyone’s dignity and needs are honored. Such processes, which are already under way in some schools and prisons in the U.S. and in Africa, and have been practiced historically by indigenous communities, involve listening deeply to each perspective and experience, to each historical account, allowing healing solutions to emerge through an open-minded, open-hearted process. It is a restorative and regenerative process of inclusion that protects the integrity of diverse cultural identities, and seeks meaningful, cooperative, and consultative solutions.
This is not diplomacy as practiced. Not in its current form.
Much diplomatic discourse still operates from jaded old-world beliefs in the aggressiveness of human nature and the validity of selfish national interests, which it considers “realism”. Despite much scientific evidence that oneness is our reality, and unitive processes are necessary for the stable organization of planetary life that reflects oneness, diplomatic processes tend to be still less governed by concerns for collective human security than for the protection of supreme national interests as perceived through the militaristic lens of dominance.
The push for unitive justice cannot be expected to come from diplomacy. Nor will it come from the military-industrial complex which has billions of dollars to make from continuing and deepening the wars. It can only come from us — from ordinary thinking people all over the world.
We have a choice to say, enough ideological battles and blame games! Let’s talk about restructuring planetary governance so it creates real conditions for peaceful and equitable collaboration among the world’s cultures, and just solutions to the climate and environmental crisis. Let’s insist on demilitarizing the planet and developing processes of unitive justice on every level as the only path to viable solutions.
We have learned a great deal from the massive tragedies humanity has endured and is enduring right now. We know what does not work. Ukrainians, Russians, and every other nation deserve an opportunity to begin to heal from violence, from profound losses, from broken trust, from despair.
It took two world wars to establish the United Nations and the European Union. Now the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists warned humanity on January 24, 2023 that it stands at 90 seconds before the midnight of unprecedented global catastrophe, largely, though not exclusively, because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. Shall we let the military-industrial complex with its pseudo-democratic justifications take us over the cliff?
Or shall we raise our collective voices to insist that Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., and the West come to the table immediately and begin a responsible process of finding no less than unitive solutions that reflect the needs of all people for fairness and human security?