Food for Thought
History tells us, countries grow and prosper through trade, by purchasing goods from, and selling goods to, other countries. Trade is so important to the national economy; historically nations have gone to war over trade rights, often conquering other nations and forcing them to provide cheap and guaranteed goods. Often, the general population of conquered nations would be enslaved and used as forced labour.
It was England’s hampering the American Colonies’ ability to trade which triggered these colonies to declare their independence from England and form The United States of America. England was continually at war, and England expected their colonies to not only participate in English wars, but also, through taxes, to help pay for wars. England also demanded colonies place trade embargoes on England’s enemies.
Thomas Paine declared that the colonies, by refusing to trade with any country, was akin to shooting themselves in the foot; they were doing more harm to themselves than to England’s enemy. He asked why England’s enemy should be their enemy. He also noted, England was, and always had been, very fickle when it comes to war. Their enemy today could be their ally tomorrow. When it took weeks and possibly months to get news from England, the colonies were never up to date with England’s current list of friends and enemies.
Thomas Paine recommended the American Colonies should be neutral, refusing to go to war with any nation. This way they could trade with all nations and bargain with different nations for better trade relations. Switzerland has had a policy of neutrality since 1515, and in 1815, through the Treaty of Paris, officially became a neutral nation. Thomas Paine intended to follow Switzerland’s example, believing, war costs money as well as lives, while trade makes money. Also, neutrality brings the gift of peace.
Thomas Paine recommended the USA should also follow Switzerland’s example of a democracy where issues are decided by having a plebiscite with all citizens having the right to vote. As we have experienced, having elected representatives decide major issues is not a democracy. A majority government is a pseudo-democracy, a dictatorship for the duration of their term. They can pass any law they wish. Justin Trudeau’s treatment of SNC Lavalin is an example of a dictatorship. He easily passed a new retroactive law, resulting in criminals legally getting away scot-free.
When I was a child, my father advised me to never step between a husband and wife when they are feuding, telling me I would end up as the common enemy. Stand back and let them fight was his advice. History tells us this is also true with warring nations. When two nations are at war, another country which takes sides ends up not only making an enemy, but also losing a trading partner. Often, by intervening, a nation is drawn into the feud and is compelled to go to war.
Is there much difference between the war between Russia and Ukraine and the wars the USA had with Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq? Independence is the common issue. The USA has been constantly an imperialistic nation, and they now have the audacity to condemn Russia for doing the same thing. Is this a case of the kettle calling the frying pan black?
People and nations commonly have the attitude, everything I do is just and right, anything you do is bad and unjust, and there are two opinions in this world, my opinion, and the wrong opinion. These nations are playing a very serious game, a game which is played for keeps.
The definition of a cohesive nation is a group held together by hatred of a common enemy. If we take away the enemy, the citizens of that nation will disperse and become a group of individuals with individual thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
Rulers of people have long realised; by creating a common enemy, they can unite the populace and easily control them like a flock of sheep. Rulers call for tolerance, with the hidden agenda of suppressing the people. Some groups are given special status and privileges. This, however, is pseudo-tolerance which tends to stir up resentment and hatred. True tolerance begins with tolerance of the truth. There can be no tolerance until there is first a full understanding of what is tolerated. Ignorance, suppression, silence, collusion … those are not tolerance, tolerance stems from freedom of speech and open discussion.
When people come to understand, we are no different from others, we are All-One, that is when we will begin to have tolerance. If we do not segregate into groups and we remain as individuals, there can be no common enemy, there will be no justification for war, and we will have peace and prosperity.
Wayne Weedon is an Indigenous Manitoba writer of novels and short stories. To sample his wonderful work go to Wattpad.com.