World is Being Born
by Joel Federman
The article below, written in February, 2003, provides the
original vision for the topia site, inspired by the global
"second superpower" demonstrations that took place
on February 15, 2003.
FRANCISCO, February 17, 2003--We are witness to another
world being born in the streets of cities around the globe.
may have read or seen in your local newspaper, or on Fox-CNN-MSNBC-CBS-ABC,
is not the whole story of the ongoing world-wide demonstrations
against war--not by a long shot.
Spain, February 15, 2003)
have been a participant and witness to the demonstrations
in San Francisco, and I know enough about this movement and
the people in it to make the claim that in most other cities
where demonstrations took place, similar things happened.
I have seen and heard, not just from the podiums, but more
importantly in the signs and words and faces of the demonstrators
was something profoundly different than what I read and saw
in major media reports. What I have seen and heard is a vision
of the world that is far better than what those currently
in government power or in the corporate media present and
represent as possible.
on February 15-16, 2003
estimate: 750,000; Organizer estimate: 2,000,000
Post estimate: "nearly" 1,000,000
estimate: 100,000; Organizer estimate: 350,000
Post estimate: between 300,000-500,000
Press estimate: 1,300,000
Post estimate: 100,000
Times estimate: "up to" 100,000
estimate: 150,000; Organizer estimate: 200,000
SIX HUNDRED other cities around the world.
a complete list of cities and links to many of their
organizing websites, click here
core, these are not just anti-war demonstrations. A principal
slogan of these demonstrations, which combine the peace and
global social justice movements, is "Another world is
possible." The demonstrations are really about the difference
between two very different worldviews, two very different
ways of living in the world. It is the difference between
those saying "another world is possible" and those
pursuing (or assenting to) a state of perpetual war. This,
not the West vs. Islam, is the true clash of civilizations
taking place in the world today.
views of those, now numbering in the millions, demonstrating
toward an alternative world are:
with humanity as a whole rather than with any particular
nation, religion, creed or any other limited orientation;
the world outside the parameters set by giant corporate
mass media news outlets and government information, and
instead conceiving and living an inclusive
vision of the world that supports the achievement of
human rights for all, universal peace and understanding,
and global social justice;
participatory democratic stance, which goes beyond voting
in elections to participating in politics by demonstrating
in the streets, writing letters to newspapers and government
officials, boycotts, and actively learning and teaching
and creating new ways of living in the world;
a self-consciously spiritual life, which may or may not
be connected to a specific religion or philosophy, but definitely
includes an affirmation, celebration, and respect for all
living beings, adherence to the principle of nonviolence,
and practice of the golden rule (love your neighbor as yourself;
do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
these are demonstrations for a new world based on universal
compassion. No, not every demonstrator in the streets throughout
the world shares each of these convictions and acts on them
consistently. But, enough of them do to call this a global
movement. One estimate of the cumulative number of demonstrators
around the world was as high as 11 million. Even if only half
of the demonstrators shared the complete alternative wordview,
that is still a pretty impressive number of people.
Aires, Argentina, February 15, 2003)
the demonstrations, a news analyst for the New York Times
that "an exceptional phenomenon has appeared on the streets
of world cities. It may not be as profound as the people's
revolutions across Eastern Europe in 1989 or in Europe's class
struggles of 1848, but politicians and leaders are unlikely
to ignore it." This is an enormous mainstream media concession
to the reality of the new world. It may not be that we are
witness to--or participants in--world-historic change. But,
then again, it may be that we are.
can say with complete certainty whether now is the time for
the ascendancy of a nonviolent, universal compassion-based
worldview over the violent, greed-centered, half-democratic,
geopolitical-economic order that has prevailed to date.
rare, true social revolutions can and do happen. It is possible
for regimes to change on a global scale as well as on a national
one. Such change has occurred on a global level before. Three
such instances are the abolition of the global slave trade,
the fall of colonialism, and the ascendancy of liberal democracy
over feudal monarchic political arrangements.
Thailand, February 15, 2003)
change? Can greed disappear from the Earth? I believe not.
But a qualitative change in human affairs is possible, a global
regime change--a spiritual revolution, involving not just
a change of rulers, but a change of values, and therefore
of political and economic structures.
makes one world, or one system of rule, change into another
is a change of belief that occurs in a critical mass of people,
and that then results in a shift in their willingness to consent
to the powers that be, and the way things are.
enough people refuse to obey, withhold their consent and participation,
or refuse to hate and fight, regimes change, governments fall,
and wars end (or never begin). It is really as simple and
straightforward as that. That is how the Berlin Wall and apartheid
in South Africa fell.
is required is enough individual decisions, enough hope, enough
energy, enough organizing, to create the proper critical mass.
Certainly, we are not at the critical mass point today on
a global scale. But, the occurrence of largest coordinated
political demonstration in the history of the world is definitely
an encouraging sign.
France, February 15, 2003)
as war is concerned, the demonstrators espouse the simple
truth that violence begets violence, that militaristic actions
and attitudes create cycles of "blowback" or "karma"
that only serve to increase harm to everyone over time. In
the words of one of the San Francisco speakers, "War
doesn't stop terror. It spreads it." The alternative
is to promote justice and understanding throughout the world,
and to create and maintain government policies that reflect
representing the old worldview claim that such an alternative
world is unrealistic, simplistic and naive. But, it is unclear
which worldview is more naive, one that seeks to disarm
Iraq through international inspections, or one that believes
that unprovoked, "preemptive," war will reduce,
not increase, the threat of terrorism.
(New York City, USA, February 15, 2003)
between these two worlds is as simple as that between hope
and fear. We don't have to allow ourselves to be led by those
with narrow hearts and narrow visions. We can participate
with others in leading the world in a new direction.
this sounds too good to be true, go to the next demonstration
and see for yourself. The most healing place you can be right
now is at one of these "demonstrations" at the core
of a new world crystallizing.
February 15, 2003)
All photographs on this page were copied from the
picture archive of February 15, 2003 demonstrations
compiled by the Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for
access the archive, click here.