In the days, months and years since 9-11, the United States and many other countries around the world have invested untold billions - even trillions in deterring and defending against outside aggression and outright attacks. Strong militaries, with the ability to defend the homelands, have been built and have demonstrated their strength and extraordinary capacity for effectiveness and efficiency. This investment of economic resources to guard the seas, borders and skies has been against outside enemies.
Last week, a staggering truth was illuminated the number of people who had, from violence and gun fire in Chicago in 2012, exceeded the number of people who died in the military advances in Afghanistan. This one fact prompts a possible shift in perspective. The ability to address challenges with effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability
has been demonstrated so let us take the mighty resources and invest them to address the “enemy within.”
If we know our enemies, we tend to focus on their military assets in terms of manpower, level of training, weaponry and usual tactics. We also know of their past performance in military conflicts and the ideology that drives them. We determine what kind of assists we will need to expand to suppress them, as well as the level of material and personnel losses we might experience. In the same manner we should know what it would take to mitigate and even defeat poverty and homelessness. We should know what kind of efforts and resources must be brought to bear to eliminate racism and ethnocentrism and what it would take to reduce the effect of disease and mitigate the effects of disaster, for example. We need to know those because these are the types of enemies that attack the spirit and soul of any society.
The powerful enemies of poverty, homelessness, loneliness, racism, indifference, ethnocentrism, disease, ignorance, arrogance and apathy. These enemies defeat us from within and cause the downfall of any society, much like an enemy that may lay siege from the outside. We know gang violence is spawn from social injustice, poverty, hopelessness and disease.
We know the spirit and soul of the individual - what is our “make up” is the key to healthy living - the key to ultimate sustainable individual success. The same is true for any great society. The spirit and soul of a culture, of a society is the key to a healthy and sustainable neighborhood, community, city, state and nation. We've heard and spoken the words many times over that peace comes from within. The same is true with a society. Being able to effectively respond to disasters, to understand and address the root causes of poverty, racism and apathy, represents the character of leader and represents the character of a healthy society.
So, therefore, the sign of a strong and sustainable society, nation and individual is not the number of weapons and military might - instead strength is represented by the ability to respond effectively, efficiently and sustainably to the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in their community, society and nation.
In my limited experience, our priorities -- where we focus our resources -- is key to a strong and sustainable society. “Our first priority should be to prepare a long-term strategy for improving the state of the world that focuses on the coming generations,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
annie loyd - founder, the fusion foundation