Declaring Interdependence:Renewing the 4th of July

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 7/28/2004

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the peoples of the earth —
to declare our interdependence with each other and with all the life-forms of the planet,
and our independence from efforts by the most powerful and most reckless among the national governments to create a new and global Empire;

Then a decent respect to the opinions of Humanity requires that we declare the causes that impel us to rise beyond the present Powers of the earth and to embody our planetary community in new social, political, and economic forms.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all human beings are born with equal dignity and worth, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: —
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
to the sharing of community;
to a rhythm of worthy work and shared rest that frees time for family, neighborhood, citizenly service, and spiritual reflection;
to a life-sustaining share of the earths abundance;
to peace among all peoples;
and to a responsible relationship amidst the whole web of life
upon this planet.

That governments, corporations, and other institutions are founded solely to secure these rights and uphold these responsibilities, deriving their just powers from the consent of those they govern and whose lives they shape.

That whenever any government, corporation, or other institution becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right, the duty, of the people to alter it and to establish new institutions, laying their foundations on such principles and organizing their powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety, freedom, peace, and happiness.

Experience teaches us that so long as the public channels of discussion and election are free and open, it is both wise and prudent to use these means to alter the institutions that control our lives.

But experience also shows us that when these avenues of change are closed, controlled by entrenched corporations and the wealthy few, then the nonviolent use of strikes and purchasing campaigns, sit-ins and teach-ins, massive rallies and spiritual vigils, becomes necessary to secure the rights and meet the responsibilities of the people.

The present government of the United States has violated our rights, broken our laws, thwarted our hopes, and blocked many of the paths to change.

Within the United States, its actions are concentrating undemocratic power in the hands of the super-rich and a few favored corporation;
In the world at large, its actions are concentrating undemocratic power in a small group of gigantic global corporations and its own military.

To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:

The present government of the United States has blocked the common will of all our planet's peoples to heal the earth from the scorching effect of carbon dioxide and similar emissions.

It has broken its own laws and its sacred obligations to all peoples by violating the United Nations Charter, undertaking an aggressive war against a people so weak and helpless as to be a threat to no one;
It provided spurious legitimacy for this war by lying to its own citizens and to the world about the dangers posed by the nation it wished to conquer;
It then failed to provide even a minimum of justice and order to the conquered people, securing access to its oil resources while permitting looting of its schools, hospitals, and cultural treasures;
And it is threatening similar aggressive wars against other nations.

It has eaten out the substance of its own people and intimidated others by quartering its troops in every corner of the world and by planning to militarize even the space above this planet;

It has treated allies with contempt and friends with intimidation, in just a few years time squandering two centuries of good will, causing many citizens of every nation to regard the United States no longer with admiration and affection, but with fear and resentment

It has shattered freedom of the press by encouraging extreme concentration of control of the news media, by erecting high walls of secrecy around the public business of the government, and by broadcasting lies about the conduct of its war;

It has defended top-down, secretive, unaccountable global institutions that —
impoverish American workers and workers everywhere,
cancel protections for the earth that were hard won through democratic struggles,
shatter the economies of poor nations in order to "corporatize" them,
and oppose cancellations of the debts imposed on the poorest countries by generations of pressure;

It has handed over to the extremely wealthy and great corporations huge tax breaks that provide them with even greater wealth & power, thereby transforming unprecedented surpluses into immense, unrecoverable debts and deficits to burden future generations.

It has supported great corporations in plundering the forests of the American and other continents, and opened remaining wild lands to savage exploitation for short term corporate profit.

It has violate the civil liberties of its citizens and the human rights of its immigrants, — im prisoning its own citizens by fiat of its chief executive without access to counsel and imprisoning captives from overseas while denying their relationship to any ssstem of law, interrnational or domestic, while planning even worse attacks on its own Constitution such as —
canceling citizenship,
searching homes without warrants and without informing the householders,
and collecting mountains of data on the private lives of the people;
It has reversed the efforts of two generations of its predecessors to erase the destructive effects of centuries of slavery and racial oppression —
by opposing legitimate forms of affirmative action,
by systematically defining crime and structuring punishment so as to imprison two million people, the highest number in the world, mostly people of color;
by denying the ballot to people of color in a crucial election that brought it to power against the will of the people;
It is attempting to put in power judges who will uphold corporate interests against those of the people, and will attack the personal dignity, privacy, and freedom of women and gay & lesbian people;
It has undermined the labor movement through which workers seek to protect themselves against the greed of great corporations;
It is bleeding dry the resources for health care, schools, pensions, and caring for the earth;
putting city and state governments in a fiscal vise, so that they can no longer afford to provide the services their publics need ------

We therefore, committed to the welfare of the peoples of the earth and the planet as a living body, appealing to the Divine Source of Justice, Peace, and Life as the sacred grounding for our work and our commitment, do —

Call for the people of the United States to transform its government, choosing new officials who in word and practice uphold the vision of this Declaration;

Call for the peoples of the United States and of the world to use their powers to legislate and demonstrate, to purchase and not purchase, to pay and not pay taxes, in such ways as to require responsible behavior from the United States and other governments and corporations toward workers, customers, stockholders, neighbors, society at large, and the earth as a whole;

Call for the nations of the earth to join in binding treaties to protect our planet's web of life; to protect all peoples from weapons of mass destruction, from war crimes and genocide and international terrorism and from the scourge of war itself; to secure the freedom and equality of all women and men and of all religious and ethnic communities; to restore and strengthen the effectiveness of the United Nations; and to carry out the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Call upon the peoples of the world to refrain from purchasing the products of those global corporations most destructive to their workers and the earth and most resistant to public accountability, and to create instead a network of grass-roots enterprises;

Call upon the peoples of the earth to rise in nonviolent resistance against any effort to undertake aggressive war;

And as our first common efforts to renew and strengthen democracy throughout the earth, we will act to —

Create a Planetary Congress that is democratically accountable to transnational civic, labor, religious, environmentalist, women's, and similar non-governmental organizations that are themselves democratically rooted and governed, aimed toward achieving a democratically rooted and accountable planetary community, with voluntary self-taxation for its support, a "nonviolent militia" of emergency volunteers to intervene against injustice and aggressive war, and new communications media under public non-governmental and non-corporate control;

And ensure that the government of the United States cut its military budget by 10% a year for five consecutive years and enact progressive taxation aimed at greatly reducing the power of the super-rich and the largest corporations — devoting the great sums of money that will be raised from these two measures, to meeting the social and environmental needs of the American people and the peoples of the world.

And for the support of this Declaration, relying on the arc of justice and democracy toward which the whole world bends, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our futures, and our sacred honor.


Jewish and Interfaith Topics: