Sharing: The first step to security

 "…And if we stand silent and reap the benefits of injustice, then we ourselves are equally culpable with those who initiated the injustice. " 1

Jimmy Carter

 One of the saddest facts of human history has been the continuing use of weaponry as way to resolve differences amongst ourselves, jeopardising not only the necessary interaction of diverse groups but also the social and cultural fabric necessary for the stable existence of collectives-most of all the family unit. So sad is this state of affairs that at present annual global spending on weaponry is estimated to be around 800 billion dollars. 2

Intrinsic to human nature is the perpetual search for security, the kind of which that would grant us if only for a second, some sense of certainty in a world all too often fraught with uncertainty and the blank reflection of the unknown. The rapid development of technology since the beginning of the 20th century has instilled in us a penchant for self-preservation that far outstrips our defensive needs by about three or more planet Earth’s, let alone those of a modern nation state. We need only consider the destructive capacities contained in the most modest nuclear arsenal to realise this almost suicidal condition.

For so long has man equated security with aggression and survival with proprietorship, that we as a race have failed to implement any viable alternatives that would provide us with these hitherto unattainable conditions. We find ourselves now contemplating a hyper-protectionist world in which the details of all would be checked and confirmed before ‘approval’ could grant them the type of treatment befitting a human being! On the world finance scene institutional entropy, via the stroke of a pen consigns millions to an undignified death at the hands of ill-suited economic and trade legislation.

Such legislation far from being the indiscriminate fate of the impoverished has been drafted by human hands and can equally be reviewed, rejected and rewritten by human hands also. To ignore this would be to risk creating those conditions necessary for terrorism-as the marginalised find few means to alleviate their circumstances through any less equally indiscriminate means than the systematic carnage of the innocent. One injustice leads easily to another as Willy Brandt recognised when saying:

"…Who would condemn someone else for taking a social militant path when the peaceful way is barred?" 3

So through what means can the crude equation of security with force and the acquisition of ever more complex weapons be overcome? Very few it might seem, as there are many who would downplay the possibility of man voluntarily renouncing the ‘right of might’ entitlement, claiming that such traits are inbuilt within us as some Hobbesian disposition to gross self-interest. But are such traits so imbedded in within us as to be indelible…? Id think not, as the case has not yet been made forcefully enough for the directive of sharing as a more stable guarantor of personal and global security.

It can no longer be assumed that our scientific and technological progress has reflected any progress in relations between human beings. As a result more than ever today we are aware that true security has eluded us, along with the justification for the criteria-based approach to human survival promoted by the Brettons Woods agencies. Such systems only increase uncertainty as they overlook mans co-dependence on man and propagate mans dependence on the market.

Without the adoption of a programme of sharing, the ‘right to security’ as outlined in Declaration of Human Rights, will never be realised. Rather this would be threatened as continual institutional injustices’ serve to feed the resentment of would be terrorists and the concentration of wealth in the developed world attracts scores of third world migrants in search of better living conditions, thus destabilising further the socio-economic conditions from which they have fled.

Indeed security would be far from our grasp in such circumstances, which could be summed up in the sentiments of the 15th century poet Kabir when he wrote:

" I have roamed the mountains, hills and dales

searched all the nook and corner

I have not yet the panacea

that can make my life secure." 4

Profoundly, we are capable of recognising the essential value of a UN Charter or Declaration of Human Rights, yet we fail to recognise the individuals and needs to which these texts refer! (Perhaps our behaviour is as yet too inhumane warrant us any Human Rights!) Stranger still that up until now the simple application of the principle of sharing, which would go such a long way to a realisation of our species rights, has yet to acquire the same international and intergovernmental endorsement as the above mentioned texts.

The implementation of a programme of sharing would leave none of our number wanting and all with surplus to their requirements. It would end the needless want that menaces billions and shames the hitherto complacent. Such a reversal of the present unsustainable trends need not be traumatic as already existing are statistics revealing each nations’ resource’s, resource needs, and the resource’s they have to trade.

All that is missing is the political will to act on these and the framework by which these resources may be equitably shared amongst the nations. The continuing discrepancies between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, perhaps more than any other reason, amplify the need to act and to act soon.

No other organisation is so well equipped representationally, or so blessed with the geographical networks necessary to steward the initiation of such a project or programme as the United Nations.

Indeed, no new legislation is required to outline what needs to be done. These basic rights are enshrined in International Law and cover the conditions of all.

Yet as it is said that no man or nation is above the law-it may equally be said that no law is above man or beyond his capabilities. We must not only draft the law but someday realise it.

When we learn to share we will find that our brothers and sisters of the globe also share with us a deep desire to create lasting security amongst ourselves and for future generations.

Fidel Asante

Sep 2003

  1. From p123 ‘Sources of Strength: Meditations On Scripture For a Living Faith’ By Jimmy Carter, 1997, Three Rives Press, New York.
  2. From Website: (spending figures for 2002).
  3. From p192 ‘World Armament & World Hunger’ By Willy Brandt, 1985 V Gollancz Ltd.
  4. From p64 ‘Love Songs of Kabir’ by G.N. Das, 1994, Abhinav Productions, New Delhi.