Today, we find ourselves regularly barraged with headlines that
make us ask, "What is happening in our nation and world, and
can we do anything to stop the madness?" This month, we were
told more than 43 million Americans, a fourth of these children, are
without health insurance, an increase of more than 3 million in the
last year. Millions more are underinsured.
By contrast, we are spending more than $1 billion per day on
defense, funding Cold War relic weapons systems and weapons
of mass destruction, including new nuclear weapons. Where is our
credibility when we do this at the same time we state a desire to
rid the world of these weapons? Is this what national security
We also are advised that, once again, the
United States leads the world in sales of
conventional weapons to developing nations,
an increase of 10 percent from 2001; we
provide nearly half of all new arms transfer
agreements and deliveries. This fact alone
ignores that part of civilization is crying out in
desperation to meet the critical basic human
needs of clean water, health care, education
and housing. Many of these armed nations
have not embraced internationally accepted
human rights policies, reinforcing the
falsehood that the enemy of my enemy is my
friend. Which will be tomorrow's Afghanistan
and Iraq guaranteeing the future loss of
American and international lives?
Our addiction to more weapons and their
continued development and sales gives a
false sense of security, ultimately, benefiting
only those involved in these sales, including
those in our present administration, giving
rise to a state of perpetual war. This
continuing disastrous spiral is not sustainable
and imperils our future.
Our survivability demands a shift in our
thinking. But how? Is there hope? Can we
move beyond the fear instilled in us daily by
the above policies, the color-coded alerts and
infringements of liberties by the Patriot acts?
We have two choices: to continue the
present course, financially and morally
bankrupting our nation and future
generations, or moving in a new direction.
Fortunately, there is a vision and a movement
to address these issues. It has been outlined
in an incredible document: the Earth Charter.
The Earth Charter is a statement of global
interdependence and shared responsibility
for the well-being of the human family and
the planet. It provides a blueprint for
achieving a sustainable future and a practical
way to create a safe, secure and peaceful
The drafting of the Earth Charter followed the 1992 Rio Earth
Summit. It is the most collaborative document in history resulting
from a global, grass-roots drafting process that involved more
than 100,000 people in 78 countries over the course of 12 years.
It was launched at the Hague Peace Palace in June 2000. The
sources for the Earth Charter include contemporary science,
international law, the world's religions and philosophical
traditions, the global ethics movement, numerous
nongovernmental declarations and people's treaties issued over
the past three decades, and best practices for building
The mission of the Earth Charter is to establish a sound, ethical
foundation for the global community and to help build a
sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human
rights, and a culture of peace.
Ultimately, we must decide. The time is now.
Quoting from the Earth Charter, "Let ours be a time remembered
for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to
achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice
and peace, and the joyful celebration of life."
Saturday marks the third annual Earth Charter Community
Summit. This summit will link, via webcast, 30 cities in the United
States with each other and four countries, India, Scotland,
Belgium and West Africa. The intent of these summits is to
educate and to celebrate the principles of the Earth Charter, and
to explore ways to implement them into the local communities.
Ventura will be one of only two cities in Southern California to
host the Earth Charter Summit.
Robert Dodge is a Family Physician in private practice in Ventura, Calif. He is co-chairman of Citizens for Peaceful
Resolutions and president of Ventura County Physicians for Social