People’s Summit 2008 in Hokkaido, or militarism vs. humanism

If I had my druthers (could anyone tell me what druthers are, first of all?), I would be up in Sapporo, Hokkaido right at this moment attending the People’s Summit 2008. This is an event co-organized by the 2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum and the Hokkaido People’s Forum in order to raise peoples’ voices on the occasion of the upcoming G8 summit about the need for a more fair and just world.

To quote from the very powerful declaration released by the Global Voices to End Poverty unit of this forum:

We live in an unjust world. As the facts lay bare, we live in a world where the richest 2% of the population enjoys more than half of all the wealth in the world; while the poorest half of the world owns barely 1% of the global wealth. It is a world where over 1 billion people still live under a dollar a day. It is a world where there is food, but people are starving; a world where there is medicine, but people die of preventable and treatable causes; a world where there is money, but people, especially the most vulnerable population, die of poverty.

We cannot accept such a world. We, the civil society, have fought hard to end such a world. The G8 countries, who asserts themselves responsible for leading the world, have made commitments one on top of another, on the premises that they would end a world that undermines the very foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, the promises and commitments have only been words and reaffirmation of those words, with a disappointing level of action, betraying the world over and over; compelling us to live an unjust world that the G8 countries are responsible for creating, maintaining, and leading, where wealth is above all the main criteria for determining if one will survive.


WOW. Full respect to all of the folks up there as we speak–including many of my friends–who are educating themselves and one another on what we can do to create a world that makes concepts like freedom and democracy become true ideals rather than hollow and empty words.

As it were, however, I am still in a state of mental and physical exhaustion from my trip to Jordan visiting with Iraqi refugees (more on this to come soon!), and a trip to Sapporo just was not possible. I am laying low–trying to do things like swim, work in the yard, and take long walks at sunset to restore my inner balance. As my friend the amazing musician Ben Kemp said recently, “You can’t achieve world peace unless you first spend time watering, weeding and pruning your own internal garden of personal inner harmony.” (Well, he said it much more elegantly, but this is the gist anyway. ;p)

Meanwhile, back here in Tokyo the authorities are in full anti-terror mode, with train stations now populated by baton-wielding police officers, lockers out of service (welcome to Japan, tourists!), freelance journalists being detained at the airport, and posters and announcements everywhere urging people to beware of unusual suspicious activity.

Today when I was out walking at lunchtime in the business/government district where I work a couple of days per week, I came across several beefy-looking guys wearing uniforms that said ALSOK. I did some checking on the internet, and found that sure enough, this is one of the companies in Japan whose livelihood and profits rest upon the population being in a perpetual state of fear of criminals and terrorists. Sound familiar, anyone? Check this out…anyone connecting the dots here should be as worried as I am.

With the powers-that-be trying their hardest to whip us all into a state of fear and distrust so they can ensure their cushy profit margins, I will continue doing what I do to try and build a world based on respect and trust of others.  If I may coin a new phrase off the top of my head: 1000 baton-wielding security police are worth one simple humanitarian gesture toward another human being that contributes to love and understanding in this world.

More Alternative G-8 Resources:

G-8 Action Network

2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum


One response to “People’s Summit 2008 in Hokkaido, or militarism vs. humanism

  • rrrayna

    I love the quote you found.
    The aims of civil society and those of the government should not even be at odds with each other…That’s counterintuitive to the concept of democracy!
    And I think the great divide surfacing everywhere across the world between peoples and governments is why so many more folks are learning to dialogue, discuss, and map out their concerns and visions with each other – and then carry their grassroots knowledge to the folks ‘in charge’.
    Re-democratizing democracy is pretty exciting.
    The ‘power of the people’ was never a pipe dream – it was just never broadly encouraged/nurtured either. The greatest strengths of people are our intellects and emotions/hearts.
    Guided by those, we can do anything.
    Sapporo was a wonderful democratic test in that.

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