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On War and the 9/11 Crisis: Sample letters to the editor

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Dear Friends of the Metaphor Project,

Below is a version of a letter I recently sent to the New York Times that conveys my current thinking about an important kind of metaphor we need now: World Rescue Campaign.* A World Rescue Campaign could provide a big enough metaphorical tent to cover all the kinds of positive, cooperative problem solving we desperately need to set in motion now to resolve our current global crisis for the long term. Although World Rescue Campaign may sound grandiose, it is certainly no more so than war on terrorism. (As for the
concern that setting out to rescue others may not be psychologically sound, please consider our current national alternatives when evaluating this metaphor.)

For some ideas about what might be included in a World Rescue Campaign, try looking at the brand new Living Economy Initiative that has been posted at the Social Venture Network's Web site:

The Initiative is a 40 page document written collaboratively by David Korten, Elisabet Sahtouris, Amory Lovins, Hazel Henderson, Duane Elgin, Bernard Lietaer, Michael Shuman, Judy Wicks and others, which summarizes in brief compass their best thinking on what must be done to keep our planetary home safe.

Interestingly enough, on Sunday, Dec.9, Thomas Friedman also published an op ed in the New York Times entitled 'Ask Not What. . .', in which he emphatically laid out positive steps U.S. citizens need to take, saying, 'If we are going to be stomping around the world wiping out terrorist cells from Kabul to Manila, we'd better make sure that we are the best country, and the best global citizens, we can be. Otherwise, we are going to lose the rest of the world.'

Susan C. Strong
The Metaphor Project

                        *N. B. As for the choice I made to use the word world, it seemed to me that the word earth was too narrowly linked in the public mind to environmental problems alone, and the word global too linked in ours to the excesses of global corporatism. The word world, I felt, includes both the people and the place the most easily for the most people. Whatever language you choose though, just don't drop the word rescue!
Let's Think Really Big: How About A World Rescue Campaign?
Dear Editor,
If we really want to rid the world of terrorism, if we are actually serious about this, we will have to mount a World Rescue Campaign. Although war has a way of organizing human societies and nations to do many things they ordinarily would not be able to do, the magnetic pull of rescue is greater by far. Ever since Sept. 11th we have seen its enormous power, along with the flood of public generosity it has unleashed. Rescue is an expression of all the very best human traits: healing, caring, thoughtfulness, creativity, taking care to do things right.
Even more than war, rescue calls for courage, strength, responsibility, self-discipline, heroism, cooperation, focusing, and very high levels of organization. A World Rescue Campaign could include every kind of group in our country, even in the world, in a brand new and highly durable consensus. It could also provide a big enough metaphorical tent to cover all the kinds of positive, cooperative problem solving we desperately need to resolve our current global crisis.
Although a World Rescue Campaign may sound grandiose, it is certainly no more so than a global war on terrorism. Moreover, fighting global terrorism with war alone or even with crime detection and prevention activities is, at best, a band-aid approach. It attacks the symptoms but not the disease that caused the illness in the
first place. We all know this, even the Bush Administration. They have already taken some baby steps in the rescue direction--providing some limited Afghan relief, planning or nation building to follow the Afghan conflict, trying to open once again the dialogue about a Palestinian state. The news we do get about the Afghan War is being largely presented as a rescue of the Afghan people from the Taliban.
But a comprehensive world rescue campaign would mean much more than that. There are so many conditions in the world right now which promise to breed new conflicts to come. A world rescue campaign is simply the most realistic, pragmatic, and effective thing to do, given the desperate state of world society today and of the increasingly fragile and stressed ecosphere on which it rests. (For make no mistake, as our ecological system breaks down further, and as Earth's climate changes, these disruptions will also seed new refugees, desperately hungry and sick people, some of whom will be looking for ways to get back at all those who have ignored them.)
Creating a highly visible and active World Rescue Campaign would go a long way toward defusing terrorism, guaranteeing national and global security for the long-term. Nor is it true that we lack the resources today to create a World Rescue Campaign. For example, the costs of giving everyone clean water, enough food, simple housing and education have been repeatedly shown to be astonishingly low.
Another very important benefit of starting a positive World Rescue Campaign now is that it could include the kind of innovative technological initiative that always drives economic progress. This component of a WRC would be a worldwide campaign to shift global industrial production processes and their products toward the ecological sustainability we must have to stay safe on this planet. A World Rescue Campaign would make an excellent Earth Ecosphere
insurance policy. And unlike a global war on terrorism, which has been likened to hitting dandelions just about to go to seed with a golf club, Operation World Rescue could plant fruitful seeds of hope all over our troubled planet.
Best of all, a World Rescue Campaign fits Einstein's criterion for truly effective problem solving. He warned us that a problem cannot be solved on the same level that created it. A world rescue campaign moves the solution to our current problem up to the next level, beyond mere fighting back or stagnation- breeding repression. A WRC is really our best and only hope for a livable future on this shared planet. And it is a common task, in which all can take joyful part, at whatever level they choose.