United People Membership
A call to people of good will everywhere to agree on a universal basis for moral conduct
History attests to a gradual ascent from ignorance, want, and savagery that warrants the hope that the human family is on its way to eventually reaching a state where all of its members can live in peace and harmony. The positive inventions of the human spirit have accomplished miracles only dreamed of in past ages. Developments in information technology, communication, and travel have shrunk the earth. Economic activity operates on a worldwide scale. Yet humankind has acquired the capacity to annihilate itself, whether through weapons of mass destruction or the abuse of the environment. Even small hate groups can unleash massive destruction.
A growing number of thoughtful persons realize that in these circumstances the achievements of human civilization can be saved only by globally accepted ethical norms. Yet no significant initiative exists to promote their adoption.
What Type of Organization Is Needed?
We are convinced that a project of this type has to be independent and assure for each of those wishing to participate in it complete equality as well as the option of individual expression of ideas, conforming to the following guidelines:
It should be a free expression of, not merely accountable to, the people of the earth.
It must not perforce be the agent of any one government or regional organization of governments that doesn’t express the will of the inhabitants of the entire planet. This however is not meant to imply that national states ought to be abolished.
It shouldn’t operate attached to the United Nations and its agencies, for the UN is an association of governments as distinct from people, and many governments do not adequately represent the true interests of their citizens. It must be noted that the UN has sponsored many worthwhile initiatives; the present statement is not intended to have the effect of undercutting these.
It oughtn’t of necessity to be simply the mouthpiece of any given religious denomination. It cannot be founded solely on a pact reached between the heads of churches or faiths either: while morality is the legitimate concern of religion, there are many people whose religious views are not spoken for by institutionalized religion. Moreover, not all religions are equipped to deal with the full panoply of moral problems.
It has to be free from the influence of corporations and other businesses. Organizations sponsored by business interests cannot in practice represent the common good of humanity in an unbiased manner.
It shouldn’t solicit funds.
It shouldn’t bend to the demands of any particular pressure or lobbying group.
It must be based on a free association of equals. Hierarchical structures, with presidents, directors, chiefs, generals, and the like, tend to regard members as pawns. Their leaders see adherents as a ladder to their own success and, instead of serving them, seek to dominate them.
It should guard against becoming a sterile exchange between professional ethicians, theologians, or religionists.
Marches, demonstrations, parades, and mass rallies impair the decision-making autonomy and distort the specific viewpoint of the individual human being. Judicious conclusions are reached by a careful weighing of evidence, not shouting in unison, making vague pledges, or engaging in mass hysteria.
Equality entitles each member to an opportunity for decision making as well as dialogue. Representative democracy, with delegates that may have personal agendas to push, and assemblies where action is paralyzed by manipulation, maneuvering, posturing, and filibustering, is less well suited to this type of project than a system where direct democracy is introduced.
As a starting point for a global ethic, we submit for your consideration these key values:
Benevolence, understood as and including good will or intention, cooperation, peace, loyalty, solidarity, compassion, caring, and humility; readiness to help instead of harm, sympathize rather than being judgmental of, and respect, others: treating others as ends instead of means. No one should be condemned/ostracized for characteristics he/she cannot help. But everyone must be held responsible for malicious acts.
Equality Avoidance of domination and oppression. Exercising or allowing for the least possible force, constraint, violence, threat, power over the other, and social and organizational hierarchy when the latter entails subjection, abuse, and humiliation. Refraining from the exploitation of perceived weakness, such as infirmity, old age, vulnerability, ignorance, gullibility, or any handicap. Rejection of the premise that right conduct consists in whatever you can get away with. Absence of racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, class, and cultural prejudice as well as of social exclusion. Democratic self-government.
Truthfulness No system distinguishing moral right from wrong can operate without acknowledging a difference between truth and falsity, between honesty and deceitfulness. Life would come to a stop in a civilization where deception has become the rule. Education, learning, science, open-mindedness, and objectivity in the long run tend to work for, lies, pretense, and fraud against, the creation of a better world.
Equity, implying social justice. People must be provided with the basic necessities of life. Abject poverty makes right moral conduct impossible for all but exceptional individuals. Democracy with uninformed and prejudiced constituents is useless. Information must be either free or all should have the means to afford it; everyone with a desire to learn must be guaranteed the opportunity for education to her/his fullest potential. Virtue is partly a habit formed through education.
Environmental protection, ensuring ecological and economic sustainability. Reverence or respect for all life is an absurd goal or a nearly meaningless proposition in a world where human beings must sustain themselves with organic food, but people ought to be encouraged to eat as low as practicable on the food chain. Hunting and fishing are basically for those whose sustenance still unavoidably depends on them. Animal experimentation should be restricted to the minimum, and no vivisection ought to be performed, if for no other reason because they make people callous to suffering, and this callousness can spread to their relations with other human beings. But the earth is not a private zoo run for the pleasure of privileged environmentalists.
Freedom Everyone should enjoy freedom of action as long as it doesn’t interfere with the freedom of others.
Treat others as you wish that others treat you The golden rule is unequaled in succinctly summing up right moral conduct. Although one can cite exceptions to its validity on technical grounds, the point is that any person of adequate intelligence can grasp its intent and understand its applicability in concrete cases.
How to Join
Contact us if you are in favor of and want to be a part of this project. We believe that it is improper for us to charge fees or accept financial support, but we will appreciate any constructive input, suggestion or advice, even if critical, concerning content or procedure as well as technical and organizational help from dedicated persons. We are not, and aren’t looking for, leaders, chiefs, presidents, or directors. We will try to cope with the task to our best ability, wish to share it, and hope to hand it on to those coming after us.