Saturday, August 27, 2016

Free Education for All Citizens: Best Investment for World Peace

Free Education for All Citizens:
Best Investment for World Peace

Dr. Charles Mercieca

One of the leading problems in the world may be viewed as ignorance, which is described by The New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language as a state of being where knowledge is wanting, that is, missing. We tend to make several mistakes to the detriment of many because, quite often, we are not aware of the realities that surround us. This explains why people with adequately needed knowledge tend to commit considerably less mistakes, if any at all.

Prevention Better than Cure

Needless to say, the more people create problems the more headaches are created for society at both the local and the national level and, quite often, at the global level as well. There is hardly any government in the world that does not spend tens of millions, and even billions, of dollars for the so called national security. Most of this money could be saved if each government were to take drastic steps to provide preventive methods as to have crime avoided in the first place. In the long range, such preventive methods may serve as a great asset.

            To this end, we need to keep in mind that the greatest and best asset of each nation lies with its people. o­nly people can make things happen for the better or the worse. If people are given the opportunity from early childhood to develop a positive and constructive view of themselves and their surroundings, the actions they perform will tend to be equally positive and constructive. In other words, people will, as a matter of fact, behave as ideal good citizens.

In view of this, we may categorically state that the primary responsibility of every single government is to provide to its people free education not o­nly at the elementary and secondary schools but at the college and university as well. This would be the best investment that the governments of the world could make to their respective nations. Through free and proper education people will be given the opportunity to develop their God-given potential to the maximum, where everyone will be a winner and no o­ne a loser.

According to British educator John Locke and many others, the human being is born tabula rasa, that is, with a brain that is totally void of any knowledge conceivable. As the human being grows and passes from o­ne stage of life to another, knowledge of any kind begins to enter into this tabula rasa. Such knowledge is afterwards bound to play a great role o­n the various actions taken afterwards by human beings, individually and collectively.

Importance of Good Education

A good education will enable people to act positively and constructively. o­n the other hand, a bad education will move people to perform actions that may prove to be detrimental to themselves and to others. As a rule, governments have to train many policemen to control all kinds of crimes at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, amounting to billions o­n a global scale. Statistics demonstrate the bulk of crimes are generally committed by those least educated. It would definitely cost less money to give free education to all citizens to eventually preserve the rule of law.

The knowledge that could be bestowed through education has no boundaries whatsoever. For instance, such knowledge may deal with geography, history and philosophy. Through geography we learn about the various people o­n earth in terms of culture and language expression. History enables us to comprehend the various actions of human beings over the centuries in terms of eventual consequences for the better or the worse. Besides, philosophy enables us to analyze carefully the human mind in terms of its function.

To illustrate this by a few examples of quite a few philosophical systems, the idealism of Plato tends to base human actions o­n a world of ideas, while the realism of Aristotle views human actions as a world of things. o­n the other hand, the scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas makes reality consisting of a world of reason, since not all the glitters is gold. These three major philosophical systems are considered as objective in the sense that things are the way they are a parte rei, in themselves; they are not the result of an individual interpretation.

However, by way of contrast, the following three major philosophical systems may be viewed as subjective in the sense that things are the way they are because of a majority, individual or unanimous decision. In the case of a majority decision we have here pragmatism, where everything is decided by the taking of a vote. When a decision is individualistic, that is, based o­n o­ne’s own feeling and perception, we have existentialism at work. When everyone happens to view things the same way, then we have spacism, that is, the space age philosophy in operation. In this regard, the whole world is viewed as o­ne big family.

This latter philosophy is expected to become the dominant philosophy of the 21st century. When the astronauts went into space they could not see where the boundaries of nations were. They could see o­nly masses of land and water. Planet earth looked very peaceful and astronauts were amazed when they brought to mind the numerous struggles and wars that took place in history. Today more than ever, people everywhere are realizing that when the air of o­ne nation is polluted the air of the nearby nations will soon be polluted as well.

Best Means for Survival

In other words, the role of education plays a vital role for the survival not o­nly of o­ne individual nation but for all the nations combined. Hence, it is the obligation of every single nation o­n earth to protect its air and water from pollution. This is a moral obligation and no o­ne is exempt from it. Hence, every government is obligated to educate its citizens to become responsible not o­nly for the good of their respective communities, but for the welfare of the entire world, as a matter of fact. It explains why education cannot be taken lightly.

For citizens to benefit immensely from education, they must, in the first place, have their mind free of worries as to enjoy good health. They need to learn to eat anything that is nutritious and not just delicious but junky at the same time. The provision of a free education for all citizens enables the nation’s people to stop worrying o­n how they will pay for the education of their children. We should stop putting financial burden o­n people when it comes to education. Parents should have more time to enjoy their children without distractions.

After all, people are being educated not for fun but for the benefit of the entire nation in particular and the world at large. The real security of a nation is based o­n its people’s ability to make positive and constructive contributions to society, which can o­nly come through the provision of a free education for all people from the cradle to the grave. It has been stated and proven over the centuries that the best form of government is social democracy, where the people govern themselves through elected representatives.

Moreover, in social democracy the government fulfils its sacrosanct obligation to provide its people not o­nly with a free education but also with a free health care system. This makes great sense and it proves to be highly logical. After all, for the people of a nation to get things done properly and effectively they need to be strong and healthy. They need to be alive and well. Let us keep in mind that a government is as good and as bad as the quality of its people. This explains why in social democratic nations, people o­n the whole seem to be better off. As a whole, these nations tend to enjoy more stability and security.

In accordance with the Natural Law, free education and free health care is a human right. Ascetical writers of all time tell us that we should always practice what we preach. The religious leaders of every era of history did just that including Jesus of Nazareth. During the decade of the eighties, Pope John Paul II told people in Mexico that world peace would eventually come but “only after two of the greatest evil systems of the 20th century, communism and capitalism, are gone because both seek to advance their causes through the exploitation of people.” Shortly after communism collapsed and the cold war was over.

Collapse of Communism

The whole world took a sigh of relief because people everywhere thought that since the Soviet Union, the seat of communism, was gone, the United States would then pursue the course toward universal peace. But the Pope proved to be right, the United States, the seat of world capitalism, embarked o­n a big military build-up and tried to sell weapons of all kinds to anyone that gave the right price. The manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of struggles and wars became a lucrative business. Tens of millions of people around the world were fully exploited and many lost their lives unnecessarily.

Since World War II ended in 1945, the United States preferred to equip nations with all kinds of weapons and military equipment than with needed educational material and with needed medicine and medical equipment. This capitalistic nation preferred to create needlessly and uselessly military bases in 146 nations than creating missionary stations that may serve as centers for learning and for medical assistance. The US government sent representatives to several nations not to disseminate peace but to sow the germs of war.

Moreover, most of military coups that overthrew democratically elected governments were supported by the United States that claims openly to be a “nation of freedom and democracy.” In reality, the United States is a nation where the concept of free education from the cradle to the grave does not exist. Not o­nly so, but such a concept never crossed, not even remotely, the mind of any government official. It is a nation where the citizens’ freedom of movement is conspicuously restricted.

Unlike Canadians and people of many other countries, Americans are forbidden by their government to visit a number of countries including its peaceful neighbor Cuba. In other words, the United States has increasingly become ineffective as world leader because it has developed the habit of saying o­ne thing and doing another. Thus, its element of credibility has been radically shaken. It’s a pity when there are so many good and beneficialUS citizens.

In this presentation focus is primarily made o­n the tremendously good investment the various governments of the world can make in providing their respective populations with free education at all levels. As we have seen, education, like health care, is not a privilege. It is a sacrosanct human right that cannot be violated under any circumstance whatsoever. If we were to make a careful analysis of the problems of every single country in the world, we will discover that those nations where people have a free education at all levels of learning, they tend to have much less crimes and people feel more secure.

Proliferation of Military Equipment

It is not right for the USA to clutter the oceans of the world with warships and to saturate 146 nations with military bases, supposedly for “national security” when the American people, that constitute the real backbone of the nation, are not provided with free health care. What is really curious is found in the fact that, while the US government says there is no money to provide free education and free health care for all Americans, there is always money for the manufacture and sales of weapons, and the promotion of struggles and wars.

Throughout history, the people of every nation have always been viewed as the best ambassadors of peace of their respective countries. o­n the other hand, the military has always been viewed as an instrument whose purpose is to wage wars with a green light that would allow them to destroy the infrastructure of cities and to kill mercilessly tens of thousands of innocent people while maiming tens of thousands of others. In spite of this, a substantial number of governments have used the military, instead of their people, to deal with other countries.

Why is education so important as an investment in the future of any nation and of the world at large? Well, education is derived from two Latin words“e” plus “duco,” that is, “from” plus “lead.” This means that education is a process that would enable us to lead others from darkness into light, from confusion into clarity of mind, from doing things that are negative and destructive into doing things that are positive and constructive. However, in this process we may also lead people the other way round. Much depend o­n those that are set in charge of the educational process.

In every era of history, the people proved to be the most powerful element in every single nation. This explains why governments in general are so much afraid of their own people that lead them to perform even atrocities to control them. This is usually revealed with clarity in nations where we have a dictatorial government. Hence, people need to become actively involved to safeguard their sacrosanct human rights relative to free education and free health care.

In his farewell speech to the US Congress, former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated emphatically: “Remember that all people of all nations want peace, o­nly their government wants war.” If this is a fact, then a question needs to be raised. How is it that some governments continue to wage o­ne war after another against the will of their own people? The manufacture and sales of weapons along with the promotion of struggles and wars has become a great lucrative business. What a way of making money! To this end nothing serves a purpose, not even human life itself.

Making Wise Expenditures

It is impossible for anyone to talk about free education and free health care without talking about a government’s urge to deal with the business of the manufacture of weapons and the waging of wars. If merely 50% of all the money spent o­n weapons, military equipment and wars is spent o­n free education and free health care, there will be enough money to finance schools and hospitals for the rest of the 21st century. This way we will be contributing toward the creation of a nuclear free world characterized eventually by disarmament and peace.

What kind of legacy we would like to give to our children, to our grandchildren and to posterity, as a matter of fact? The answer to this question is entirely in our hands. In Italian there is a proverb which says: Parole si, fatti no – words yes, facts no. And the Romans had a saying which stated: Aliud est theoria, aliud est practica – o­ne thing is theory, another thing is practice. We often hear politicians talking of peace in anything they say but then we witness wars in anything they do. This is certainly betrayal of people.

In view of this we may fully understand the warning that Jesus of Nazareth gave us when he said: Homo hominis lupus, which is best translated as man is his own worst enemy. Our government officials in depriving their people of their basic human rights, such as free education and free health care, become in good faith our de facto worst enemies! Peace is so precious that when good people meet they always tend to greet each other with the word “peace” or simply by saying: Peace be with you.

We need to keep in mind that peace is priceless. In fact, those governments that spend millions, billions and trillions of dollars o­n weapons, military equipment and wars, they all tell their people that they are doing this to preserve or bring about peace! Of course, this constitutes a contradiction in terms. The money that has been and is still being squandered o­n these negative and destructive elements should stop abruptly and be shifted for positive and constructive purposes, like the provision of free education and free health care.

What all the nations of the world need to keep in mind by all means is this: Violence breeds violence and more violence breeds more violence. We cannot bring others under control through threats, which always serve to harden them and make them more determined to resist and do the opposite of what may be expected. The best way to solve human problems is through diplomacy and healthy dialogues that should be developed o­n mutually beneficial bases. Let us keep in mind that all human beings share the same identical human nature.

Sharing Same Basic Needs

This means that all human beings would want to eat when they are hungry and to drink when they feel thirsty. They all would want to live a happy, healthy and long life in prosperity and peace. To this end, they need to be prepared from early childhood properly and effectively o­nly through a good education where no o­ne should stand in the way. We learn from history that nations where people had to pay to get a good education had more problems than those other nations where people had a free education.

The enrichment of a nation is always measured by the caliber of its inhabitants in terms of education, good health and productivity. Confronted by this reality, the whole world should wonder as to why we still have governments that seem to be convinced that the strength of their nations is to be sought in sophisticated and expensive weapons and wars! Some say that governments of this caliber may be run by the mafia because they see in these negative and destructive elements the generation of a tremendous amount of money.

From the outset, the United Nations had a program o­n disarmament and arms control along with the development of human resources for positive and constructive purposes. However, quite a few countries did not take such a program seriously because they saw a loss in their war industry profits. This is sad since the human life is worth more than all the wealth and money in the world. Instead of sacrificing our wealth and money to preserve life in the best shape possible, many responsible governments went the other way round. They would not hesitate to sacrifice the human life for these materialistic elements.

At this stage of life we need to learn at least o­ne big lesson, which is, never to believe politicians who put more and more money o­n weapons and wars to “safeguard the security of the nation.” They refer to the interest they have in their pocket as the “nation.” We all know that in the sphere of morality or ethics, the end does not justify the means. Those that put the nation’s money in weapons and wars instead of in education and health care are performing a criminal act against humanity, which should be brought under control.

The greatest spiritual leaders of all time, along with numerous outstanding philosophers, found that the secret of wisdom lies in the renunciation of worldly elements in the sense that you feel detached from them. This would include money and wealth. This explains why the Master Teacher ofNazareth said emphatically to His disciples that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Lord Buddha was born into a wealthy family and he had anything that he might have wished in life except for o­ne thing, happiness.

Putting Priorities in Order

Later o­n he did find happiness but o­nly after he renounced the material things of this world. He could then discover genuine serenity and happiness. Mahatma Gandhi was a good lawyer and had a promising future but he became increasingly convinced that he would exert a better influence if he were to renounce all the valuable things of this earthly community. His spiritual power became so strong that quite a few historians attribute India’s independence from Great Britain to the great spirituality he managed to build up.

Mother Teresa, who decided to give her life to work among the poorest of the poor, became o­ne of the most respected women in the world. When she passed away, the Indian government gave her a state funeral like she was a head of state. Like Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth and Mahatma Gandhi, and others, Mother Teresa exercised great constructive influence o­n others, something that all the military might in the world could never achieve. Yet, many still seek for the strength of the military that is trained for destructive actions.

The preamble of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) starts with the words: “Since wars being in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Former US Presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, said that“everything that takes place in the world for the better or the worse originates from o­ne single idea; if that is the case,” he stated afterwards, “we should all try to generate good and constructive ideas and proceed to implement them immediately afterwards.”

Experience demonstrates that those who receive a good education are in a better position to present to the world community positive and constructive projects. This explains why free education for everyone should be viewed as the best investment that a government could possibly make. This would be the best step for us all to provide future generations the kind of peace and harmony we all have wished to experience since we were very young. We need o­nly to cultivate will-power since when there is a will there is a way.

The larger nations of the world that do not offer free education to their people, far less free health care, often bring the excuse that there is no money available to provide such benefits to their people. Yet, these same nations spend billions of dollars day in and day out all the year round o­n the manufacture and the indiscriminate sales of weapons and the waging of wars. Several years ago Costa Rica was viewed as o­ne of the poorest countries in Latin America. It had a large military with several civil wars. Finally, o­ne general who took over the government assured the people that there would never be a war again.

Changing Role of the Military

This general, with o­ne stroke of the pen, abolished the military. Then he used the would-have-been military money to build the nation from the devastation it had for a long time. At that time, some 80% of the people were illiterate, many were homeless and the rate of mortality among infants was the highest in all of North and South America. Within a matter of a few years, all people were provided with adequate residential facilities and with a free education at all levels… elementary, secondary, college and university.

Besides, all people were given free health care and today the population of Costa Rica is among the healthiest in the world. Also, their mortality rate among children is the lowest in all of the Americas, even lower than that of the USA. The time has arrived when the whole world must either abolish the military or, still better, change the purpose of the military from o­ne of destruction to o­ne of construction. Soldiers could be trained to plant trees along the highways of nation, repair roads and bridges, and build homes for the homeless.

The military in Cuba, for example, already took a step in this direction. The free education Cuba gives to all of its citizens from the cradle to the grave has now been extended even to thousands of foreign students studying there. Besides, Cuba gives free health care to all the people and provides medical doctors to a number of poor nations, along with needed medicine. In spite of the unjust embargo against it that has been enforced by theUnited States for almost half century, Cuba continued to move forward with determination and success.

It looks like when a nation is equipped with people that are well educated and in pretty good health, there is always a way found in overcoming all kinds of obstacles that come along. Education and good health tend to instill in people a feeling of confidence and security. This means that for a government to give people free education and free health care there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. National stability becomes the characteristic of the nation. After all, this is the ultimate goal of every responsible and sensible government.

It is a sad, especially in capitalist nations, to measure the value of anything conceivable in terms of money. We need to stress the importance of volunteer organizations where many could offer their expertise in every field of knowledge possible to fellow citizens. There are many of such organizations who are already doing a tremendously good job in this regard. Among others, we have physicians, nurses, teachers, and construction workers, as well as businessmen in the food industry, and pharmaceutical personnel all of whom are serving their fellow brethren with pride.

Importance of Volunteer Organizations

The great philosophers of all time remind us to do to others what we would like others to do to us. Volunteer workers, as they can attest, often feel highly rewarded especially with inner joy and happiness. This is an experience that is greatly valuable and it cannot be purchased with either money or wealth. To understand the importance for a government to provide free education and free health care to its people, let us imagine we have a large number of families who have been blessed with many children.

Such parents do proceed to look after their children the best they can but, at the same time, they fail to raise them up with a sense of responsibility, while they do not really provide them with good nourishment. Such children are likely to grow up showing little respect for others in addition to getting into mischief where later some may even end up in prison. This will be due to the fact that the parents, for o­ne reason or another, failed to give them adequate education. Besides, some of these children may develop needless health problems.

Such problems may be due to the fact that their health care was neglected. As a result, such parents will end up facing endless problems with numerous headaches. Let us keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. The USA, for example, which does not provide free education and free health care to its citizens, has more people locked in jails per capita than any other nation o­n earth, including China with six times the population. Now the US government is spending countless millions of dollars every month o­n these jails.

If the US government worked o­n the provision of free education at all levels and the provision of free health care to all of its citizens, there would definitely be less jails. Many of those in prison might have been doing o­n a voluntary basis, a lot of constructive work for the benefit of the entire nation. The problem of drugs and alcohol might have been considerably less. Besides, violence in America might have been o­n the way to extinction. All of this takes time but we need to start somehow and someway, the sooner the better.

We may now begin to see with clarity how in giving free education to all citizens, a government has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Access to free education and to free health care is bound to create a healthy nation where everyone will have less worries and a greater peace of mind. As we saw in the preamble of UNESCO, conflict and wars originate in the human mind. Likewise, serenity and peace also originate in the human mind. The history of civilization over the past 6,000 years should convince us that when people are at peace with themselves and others, they become more constructive and productive.

Blessings of Peace

The financing of wars is enormously more expensive than the financing of peace. Besides, there is absolutely nothing constructive that could be achieved through the waging of wars. In giving just a brief glance at the recent Iraqi war we discover the destruction of the infrastructure of several cities, the massacre of and maiming of well over o­ne million innocent people, and the displacement of two million Iraqis. In addition, some 5,000 young Americans lost their lives, more than 30,000 of them were maimed and quite a few committed suicides while others had their family life disrupted and got divorced.

Besides, this needless war forced the US government to enter into its biggest debt in history. The nation’s economy is falling apart in spite of the optimism expressed by the US president. The US government’s contention is that there is no money to provide free health care system for Americans, far less to provide free education for everyone. At the same time, this same US government continues to build more foreign military bases, which it has already in 146 countries, construct more weapons and seems determined to continue with its waging of wars indefinitely.

The advantage of the study of history lies in the fact that we give an opportunity to ourselves to learn vicariously, that is, through the mistakes of others and not the hard way, that is, through our own mistakes. Ascetical writers tell us that the difference between the wise and the fool lies here. The wise learns vicariously, that is, through the mistakes of others, while the fool learns the hard way, that is, through his own mistakes. The choice is entirely in our hands.

In conclusion, let us keep in mind that the greatest mistake we may commit is to give up hope. This means that we should always look forward into the future with hope and determination to succeed. Free education for all citizens, along with free health care, constitute a dream that is bound to be achieved by all means in the best interest of peace. It is o­nly a matter of time. A number of nations have already achieved this objective. We do have hope.

Related Bibliography

Barash, David P. (Editor). Approaches to Peace: A Reader in Peace Studies, Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA, 2000

Choue, Young Seek (Editor). Proposal for Peace: Last Option for Humankind, Institute of International Peace Studies, Kyung Hee UniversitySeoul 131, South Korea. 1986

Choue, Young Seek (Editor). Will World Peace be Achievable in the 21st Century? International Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University Press, Seoul 131, South Korea, 1999

Diamond, Louis. The Peace Book: 108 Simple Ways to Create a More Peaceful World, Conari Press, 2550 Ninth Street, Suite 101, Berkeley. CA 94710USA, 2001

Galtung, Johan and Jacobsen, Carl G. & Brand-Jacobsen, Kai Frithof, Searching for Peace: The Road to Transcend, Pluto Press, 345 Archway RoadLondon N6 5AAUK, 2002

Ikeda, Daisaku. For the Sake of Peace: Seven Paths to Global Harmony, A Buddhist Perspective, Middleway Press, 606 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA, 2001

Hicks, David (Editor). Education for Peace: Issues, Principles and Practice in the Classroom, Routeledge, 11 New Fetter Lane. London EC4P 4EEUK, 1988

Nathanson, Stephen. Patriotism, Morality, and Peace, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 4720 Boston WayLanhamMD 20706USA, 1993

Paupp, Terrence Edward. The Future of Global Relations: Crumbling Walls,
Rising Regions, Palgrave Macmillan, 175 Fifth AvenueNew YorkNY 10010USA, 2009

Prasad, Surya Nath Prasad and Shukla, Suman. Science, Religion and Peace, IAEWP, 216 Laxminagar, Nagpur 440 022, MaharashtraIndia, 2002

Reardon, Betty and Nordland, Eva (Editors). Learning Peace: The Promise of Ecological and Cooperative Education, State University of New York Press, AlbanyNY12246USA, 1994

Yoo, Jong-Youl (Editor). Men’s Search for Peace, Institute of International Peace StudiesKyung Hee UniversitySeoul 131, South Korea, 1985