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        A word from a poet

YevtushenkoOne of the causes for the absence of idealism in our world today is the absence of a new philosophy. We need a new philosophy that will sum up all the tragedies of the twentieth century so that we can avoid another and this time final tragedy. This philosophy must develop a new ethics that will unite rather than divide people. Humanity is pregnant with this new philosophy, which is kicking from inside, seeking a way out.

I have no intention of offering recipes for creating ideals. Clever recipe givers inevitably fail like the television evangelists. Not everyone is able to be a hero, but everyone has the opportunity not to be a scoundrel.

On the other hand, I believe there is nothing higher than the ideal of human brotherhood. Even a family will fall apart if the concept of brotherhood is missing. War between nations is nonbrotherhood. An undeclared war envy, jealousy, gloating, insincerity, lack of frankness against someone close to you is
Nonbrotherhood, too. We must conquer the nonbrotherhood in ourselves, and that will make universal brotherhood possible. Brotherhood, if given a chance, is an ideal that can be held in common by people of the most varying political and religious views.

Idealists are often laughed at. They are considered eccentric, unrealistic, and sometimes even crazy. At the turn of the century the bourgeois in the Russian provincial city of Kaluga used to laugh the parochial-school teacher Tsiolkovsky, who made blueprints for interplanetary spacecraft. Yet he invented the principle on which our spacecraft are built. If the founder of the new philosophy could become not just international but interplanetary, people would laugh at him, too. Yet we need such a philosophy.

The twentieth century devours ideals. It gave birth to chemical and atomic weapons, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, genocide in Cambodia, terrorism, sex shops, AIDS, and one of the most debilitating drugs television. Technical progress turned out to be a synonym for spiritual regression. The twentieth century also killed our revolutionary idealists. It murdered Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, John F. Kennedy, Aldo Moro, and Olof Palme.

To the gigantic number of starving is constantly added the gigantic number of spiritually starved. Acknowledged spiritual hunger, however, is not terrible. What is terrible is unacknowledged spiritual hunger, especially when it seems like comfort. Fear or burglary makes people put numerous locks on their doors. But at the same time, they put locks on their souls so that no one can open them and see whats inside. For many the standardization of thought is not a catastrophe but a salvation. Instead of listening to the world, people plug up their ears with earphones playing music. They jog right past a mugging victim and fail to hear the victims moans. We are replacing our eyes with peepholes on doors. Many of us living in enormous apartment buildings dont know our neighbors on the same floor and dont want to know them. Then why the hell know our neighbors on the planet?

Instead of being a window on the world, a newspaper in the hand becomes a curtain for blocking out the world. The habit of watching a visual salad of human suffering with a cloying dressing of advertising on the TV news leads to the habit of contemplating those sufferings instead of sharing them.

Think of the time we all spend at parties that are merely counterfeit human contact. Just try responding to How are you? seriously. Say that things are not good at home, youre are not sleeping nights, youre contemplating the best way to commit suicide, and that you have lost faith in yourself and in everyone else and the questioner will back away from you, thinking you have lost your mind. He may be having problems at home himself or maybe up all night thinking about the same things, yet he cant admit it because he is afraid of appearing weak. Speaking openly of your weaknesses is human strength. Pretending to be strong is a weakness that can turn into a disease.

This fear of personal confession then turns into a national fear. At the same time that secret services worldwide are achieving great heights in mutual eavesdropping, nations are losing the savings ability to hear each others heartbeats. Many international political negotiations break down because they are built on mutual accusations instead of on mutual confessions.

Calling one government the symbol of all bad on the earth, and ones own government the symbol of all goods is nothing other than fear of confession. We will achieve a lasting peace on the Earth only when political negotiations are built on mutual courage.

The most important thing facing us now is to save the world from nuclear catastrophe. If we do save it,
Will it be a world without ideals, based only on biological deal? Estranged from one another, will we have made a cold calculation for our physical survival? Will we replace the ideal of human brotherhood with pragmatic détente, promising only temporariness and undependability? Will we give up and betray the best of humanity? Or will we recognize a world where all religious and political views are accepted?
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