From Subjects to Citizens, The Great Transition

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(abstract of the article published in El País, 11.02.2010)

The solution to the terribly serious challenges that we face is more democracy, better democracy. And this requires active participation and a profound knowledge of reality that “educated” people especially possess, in the sense of those people who act upon their own reflections and never upon the dictates of others. Article I of the UNESCO Constitution proclaims that education creates people who are “free and responsible”. Education for all throughout life. For all, and not merely for a chosen few. And this all is very dangerous, because people with education will not remain passive, resigned and in subjugation. They will not be spectators, but rather actors. Not merely numb recipients, distracted and fearful, but rather transmitters. They will not remain silent nor will they be silenced. They will firmly and persistently, but peacefully, express their points of view.

With educated citizens there will no longer be dogmatism, extremism, fanaticism, since nothing will be “indisputable,” nor will there be blind obedience. Education erases apathy and incites people to action.

Yes, education is the solution. There is no genuine democracy without participation, if leaders and parliamentarians do not truly represent the “voice of the people”. To mobilize, to take a stand, to get involved it is necessary to have time for reflection. It is essential to “listen” to the world. To observe it, which is much more than merely looking at it. To have a planetary vision, a conscience of the whole of humanity, which will enable us to react without having to wait for tsunamis to jolt our emotions and prompt us to take action.

Those in power, who have always kept their distance from citizens who, with increased confidence are taking the stage, never realized the power of a “virtual revolution”. The capacity for distance participation (via mobile phones, SMS, Internet…) will change present consultation and election procedures. In synthesis, democracy.

Citizens’ disappointment at their governments’ incapacity to implement the now very watered-down Millennium Objectives and, more recently, their leaders’ failure to face their global responsibilities concerning climate change has accompanied their perplexity and indignation at the “rescue” of the financial institutions that are largely responsible for the serious situation we are presently facing.

And the people? When are the people going to be “rescued”? It is essential that we achieve efficient multilateralism, with international institutions endowed with all of the means required to fulfill their missions.

Only then can there be an end to trafficking and the mafias that today enjoy greater impunity thanks to tax havens, which should be closed immediately without further contemplation.

A United Nations that could rapidly deploy Blue Helmets when human rights are massively violated in the name of “national sovereignty”. And rapid and coordinated action to reduce the impact of great catastrophes, whether natural (hurricanes, cyclones, floods, fire, earthquakes) or provoked.

the transition from a speculative, virtual war economy (3,000 million dollars of military spending daily while 60,000 people die of hunger) to an economy of global sustainable development, which would progressively increase the number of people who have access to services and goods.

The future has yet to be decided. The future must be invented by overcoming the inertia of those who insist on solving the problems of tomorrow with yesterday’s solutions. Many things should remain the same. But many others must be changed. And we must have the courage to do so. We must dare.

It is civil society’s turn! From force to dialogue, encounters, conciliation. From subjects to citizens, the great transition.