Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 4, 2002
Sailing blissfully on the Titanic
The war on terrorism continues and people around the world are formulating their positions, for, against, indifferent or let us get to the root of the problem.
In the meantime world leaders have met in Qatar to further the goals of the World Trade Organization. Of particular concern are the General Agreement on Trade in Services Agreements which pose a serious threat to all public services, including health, water, and education.
Opposition to the globalization process, which gives corporations equal or greater rights than citizens, is mounting. At the same time, the government's ability to limit legitimate dissent has been enhanced by the introduction of repressive legislation to protect national security.
Even before Bill C-36 was passed, the rough treatment of students, mothers and seniors by the police during the peaceful November protests in Ottawa, was deplorable. How will people who believe in justice register their displeasure after Bill 36?
Last fall, from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, communities of faith from around the world participated in a Fast for Justice and Life to coincide with the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Washington D.C.
In spite of the horrendous Sept. 11 devastation on American soil only two weeks earlier, U.S. citizens came out by the thousands to call for an end to economic violence and to the militarization that supports it.
The week of fasting started on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Unfortunately there was little sign of remorse where it was most needed as Israel stepped up its version of the war on terrorism.
But the organizers of the Washington protest believed in the more efficacious outcomes of non-violent resistance to violence, specifically against the violence of the global economy.
They spent their days reflecting, fasting and praying for deliverance and repentance, in the hope that the cry of the excluded people of the earth will not go unheeded. They asked participants for a commitment to reach out to others, since the "great powers that are arrayed against the impoverished billions will not change without a massive public outcry."
One participant wrote that when faced by police ordering them to "get back!" that there was nowhere to go back to. "The forces of the state, the media, all the powers that support global corporate capitalism would like us to get back, to disperse, to go away and leave the scene. But we have nowhere to go."
"We have nowhere to go because the conditions we have been fighting have not gone away. The disparity between rich and poor has not grown less.
"The attempts of the corporate powers to consolidate their hegemony have not ceased. The environment has not miraculously repaired itself. Our economic and social systems have not suddenly become sustainable."
"We're on the Titanic," he continued, "and our efforts to turn the course of the ship have just been hijacked and we're churning full steam ahead into the iceberg. We don't have the luxury of defraying action to a more favourable moment."
The G8 Conference in Kananaskis is only a few months away. Will we take our stand with the world's poor or with the corporations? Will social protest by human rights groups be treated as terrorism? Will the mountain resort be declared off limits to civil society demonstrators? The iceberg is closer than we think.
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