Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness nothing can change for the better
and catastrophe will be unavoidable.
The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.
The first time of my Life that I had ever wished for the Talents and Eloquence of the ancient Orators of Greece and Rome
I was very sure that none of them ever had before him a question of more Importance to his Country and to the World.
While you live shine, have no grief at all, for life exists but for awhile, and time demands it’s due.
Fair Greece! Sad relic of departed worth! Immortal, though no more; though fallen, great.
Take courage Greece, do not weaken because God wants you to live and you will live.
Dear Mr. Biden, In the musical 1776, Benjamin Franklin is portrayed as a humorous optimist. The other Benjamin, Rush, was too concerned over mental health matters driven by the insanity of his naval-officer son. Thomas Jefferson feverishly penned the Declaration of Independence. Before he could sign it, Robert Livingston returned home to pop a cork and celebrate birth in the family. As Livingston, I danced and sang To the right, ever to the right, Never to the left, forever to the right with Franklin while Jefferson worried about the course of human events. Unsure of any listeners he raised his voice to the theatre audience asking: “Is anybody there?” In today’s world of dangerous inequality and existential problems, exact and equal justice for all men seems out of reach and freedom’s song falls flat. Now you have stepped up to the plate, I hope Mr. Biden you can change this. You have already signaled that you will take a far tougher line with Turkey over human rights.
With authoritarianism on the rise, failing checks and balances, countries divided, families, workers and children in despair with financial and health troubles, you, Mr. President have been called upon as the leader of a not so free world, which is engulfed by fear and suspicion, to invent ways out and plan how to avoid the obvious (and latent) dangers that threaten humanity. What a fantastic role.
My grandson who is 15 told me that he trusts you and ensures me that you have listeners, at least in the members of his family. I have no better endorsement than that. He says that you can become the world’s master potter to which I add, you can renew also its glaze. My focus is Greece, which remains an infinite historical source of knowledge. Two past Presidents have enjoyed luxury sailing on its fantastic blue seas and visits to archeological sites. Another apologized for the Greek dictatorship while the fourth (sorry my favorite President, Mr. President) gave a recital in the praise of democracy but failed to address the status of public health in Greece as I had requested. On his onward journey to Germany, he did not raise the question of reparations from WWII. Your predecessor President, left the air dirtier and more dangerous to breathe and undermined public health in his interventions with the EPA.
Responsible people have always been compelled to face hard choices in chaotic conditions. Suspended between paganism and Christianity, St. Paul’s Letters made their way into the New Testament. Despair and resurrection found expression in the earlier words of Aeschylus spoken once again by Robert Kennedy on the assassination of Martin Luther King, pain so intense, which even in our sleep cannot forget as it falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. Dr. King’s, I have a dream finds its ancestry in Darkness, a poem by Byron. The reformer’s famed sword weightier but not mightier than his poetic pen may have been held by Jonathan Peckham Miller, in revolutionary Greece.
The Greek language spoken in revolutionary Greece emerged 3 to 4000 years ago. Wide-eyed Europa from Tyre clung to Zeus on the way to Crete and Western identity emerged. Western civilization took shape after the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis two and a half millennia ago. The division East (Asia)-West (Europe) led to the free development of mankind based on knowing thyself, classical philosophy, Socrates who told the Athenians “in killing me you will injure yourselves more” and global citizenship. He went on to say “I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours”. Then Greece explained the world, examined life and the end of life and set out universal human values for human society with known rules. Being ourselves, knowing ourselves, we know the universe and the gods from Delphi. What a wonderful start?
From time to time, with little success but great satisfaction, I have approached authority to request clemency and freedom for individuals who had done no wrong (Eskinder Nega Ethiopian journalist) and for those whose cause I considered noble (Kings Bay Ploughshares 7). My request to the presiding judge was to return the KBP7 to the sunny side of the street as an act for humanity and to make the world a little wiser. I have petitioned politics for greater recognition and support for global public health and suggested, perhaps in desperation that its coordination resides in the UN Security Council. Public health is a proven interdisciplinary instrument for the reduction of population vulnerability. It constitutes one basic element and practical ingredient, for mankind's hope for the future with a thought system that favors humanity. In passing, I have participated in developing and writing documents on public health, peace and human rights, population vulnerability reduction and human security in the Balkan region. Circa 1930, Greece saw public health central to the nation’s development.
Most recently, I petitioned Mr. Putin on behalf of Alexei Navalny. I did so as a recipient of the International Gusi Peace Prize (2019) and as Vice President of the World Philosophy Forum (WPF). Antony Quinn or Zorba the Greek was the first recipient of the said Peace Prize. I was one of the last to receive it, together with Kgalema Motlanthe who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela and another American of my recommendation. I suggested to Mr. Putin that he has the power to convert dark tidings into silver linings and set another global example as with the extending of START in response to your prompting.
With “America is back”, the world perhaps can withdraw from its social dementia, which depletes consciousness and is a dangerous threat to a democratic society and to human existence. As you have said, “in a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election”. When last in Chicago I participated in a Global Conference on Neuroscience & Neurology to discuss Neurosciences in the service of rapprochement between America and Russia based on much earlier collaboration between the two as just one of many ways to strengthen democracy.
Mr. President, you have much on your plate and the plates are big, some of the tectonic proportions, plates piled high with homeland and geopolitical problems. Some are cracked, some ready to break and some need retrofitting or replacement. I am glad to see that you have a healthy appetite to put the world back on track before it goes off the rails. My one wish is that your digestive system remains robust. There will be many who will want to break crockery and much more. Others will try to drag the table cloth out from under you and with great dexterity and perhaps force. Some will argue that American democracy has failed its people on all sides. I believe you are already making a change.
Permit me though to draw your closer attention to an important plate namely, Greece today and the neo-imperialism of its neighbor Turkey. Turkey deliberately cultivates fear and violence in pursuit of political dominance. Turkey is an authoritarian regime intent on concentrating power, all power in the hands of one man who uses many paths to do so. Turkey’s highly improbable accession to the European Union helped consolidate control over all institutions; gestures made were directed at gaining international support as the military establishment was brought under control, internal secularism undermined and the judiciary made a personal instrument of power. Manipulation of the refugee crisis helped create a neutral zone in northern Turkey, a no-fly zone and supported by the army. When flooded with refugees Turkey opened exit doors to let some head for Europe.
In the year 2021, 200 years after the Greek revolt against Ottoman rule, Turkey’s aim is to dismantle all aspects of Kemal, annex Greek regions and establish a new Sultanate. Turkey bluntly violates the UN, EE and NATO Charters, International Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has an unhealthy ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Nuclear plants designed in Russian will soon be erected in Turkey a highly prone seismic region.
For Turkey any Greek suggestion to appeal to international law is an affront and a reason for threatened conflict. Domestic opposition politicians and activists, foreign nationals, journalists and religious denominations are targeted with due process limited in these cases and an in absence of judicial independence. Turkish jails house many political prisoners. Imprisonment occurs on flimsy accusations such as spreading terrorist propaganda or insulting the Republic and its President. Information is collected abroad on those expressing opposition to him. Turkey’s title of one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists has been replaced by the world's worst jailer of journalists. Today Uighurs are tortured in China, while those in Turkey may soon be extradited. As Greek grandmothers worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize save refugees from Aegean waters, Turkey accuses Greece of sinking their inflatables. As Turkish citizens face problems of daily survival, Turkey disrupts European interests cries wolf to the EU, complaining of its partiality to Greece.
Turkey proclaims respect for diplomacy while pushing ahead with its Blue Homeland doctrine, name changing of seas and deliberately violating Greek air space on a dangerous daily frequency while illegally exploring Aegean waters accompanied by warships. It claims parts of those blue waters, continues its energy research program despite any talks he would go ahead with its hunt for oil and gas off other Greek islands. The chronic and illegal military occupation of a part of Cyprus, persecution of the Greek Minority in Albania and the neo-imperialism of Skopje, subjects I am sure you know much more about than I do. Recently Turkey committed a cultural "crime" to transform Agia Sofia, a UNESCO protected monument, into a mosque. Let me say that Albanians have been accepted in Greece, they are responsible citizens, go to school and do well in Greek universities. The Turkish government misinforms its people mainly through fake news and misinformation about almost anything. Perhaps the most dangerous long term issue is in countries assuming an identity that does not fit, does not belong, such as of a Sultanate or through assuming a different mantle of history.
Mr. President a recent webinar of the Council for International Relations, Greece, placed discussions within a framework of your election with considerable expectation. Prime Minister Mitsotakis focused on the Bicentennial (1821-2021) and noted that the aim of the first hundred years (1821-1921) was ethnic completion and reunification, namely of the newly constituted nation state. He noted Greece's progress after confronting Covid-19 more effectively than richer states, giving her an opportunity to radically change its international image. He emphasized that geopolitically and in terms of cultural values Greece is firmly placed in the Western sphere. It was stressed that without a strong economy Greece will be too weak to be able to project power. However, not one of the distinguished participants in the time of Covid, with Greece on the threshold of the Bicentennial noted public health’s contribution to its upward trajectory or for its risk reducing potential today or in preparedness for what is to come. I may add that this is the case in official circles. What could be progressive, is often shrouded in photographic laws of political favoritism.
Countless reports tell the grim and gruesome story of inequality, poverty and man’s brutality to man, to populations, specific groups, communities, individuals, women and children. Our world needs relief from inequality, violence and oppression. Oppressive times historically were approached either through prayer and acceptance of the awful situation or by bloody uprising and revolt. Inequality drives thoughts and actions of resentment and protestation. We need improved sanitation and a better quality of life, instruments of constructive discussion and effective diplomacy, especially health diplomacy. More dangerous diseases to global health may emerge. Should that happen scientific preparedness is vital. International health regulations provide some core capacity to ensure preparedness for infectious disease hazards that have the potential to spread globally. The earth’s slow warming will place a heavy burden on homeostatic mechanisms that help maintain harmonious balance; physiologically and health maintenance, international policy and the promotion of peace. The Paris Agreement must be revved-up with more ambitious targets with respect to CO2 emissions and temperature warming. Minorities everywhere should have a safe haven. Today, refugees, many with young children are camped in town squares, homeless and with few prospects open to violence. As one American NGO says “empty stomach reminds you that you're alone… you're not getting the nutrition you need… you're desperate for a different life”, which is the moment when traffickers strike.
This year, Greece marks with celebration, its emblematic national celebration. It is 200 years since the Revolution of 1821, which drew inspiration from the American and French Revolutions. The participation of Americans represented an important chapter in American-Greek relations; Doctor Samuel Gridley Howe, Jonathan Peckham Miller provided first-hand accounts of the struggle for freedom over Ottoman rule as well as background descriptions of poverty, distress and misery of Greek people. Miller’s adopted son Lucas Miltiadis Miller born in revolutionary Greece served in Congress. A statue of Lucas Miltiadis was recently unveiled in Aurora, Illinois. The triumph of 1821 was marred by a multitude of infectious diseases, typhus, plague, cholera, chickenpox, malaria, tuberculosis. In 2021, what should be a glorious and inspiring Biennial celebration is shadowed by Covid, in politics much as usual and in scandals of abuse.
A century ago with little change in sanitary conditions, Greece lived a short revolution in public health (1929-34) that added two decades to the life expectancy of Greeks and help promote it as a progressive nation. Modern Greece slowly emerged from a bizarre pandemic of dengue fever during which European capitals panicked and which killed 6% of the population (1927-30). Dengue jumped borders and temperature zones to knock Greece off the European continent for months.
Mr. President, I do not expect you to divert the rivers of despair and remove social dementia from the Augean stables in one term in office. Two rivers of no return, which should be returned to is that of despair for children born today. As they grow, morbidity will occur at an earlier age and they will live a lower quality of life, with life expectancy less than their parents. Whatever the future, it will not offer the comfort of being waited upon by robot slaves for most. On the contrary, It could be a place where socially demented dehumanized human beings are themselves, robot slaves.
Consequently, our highest level goal today should be to preserve our humanity through philosophy and strive through policy and science to give our children and our children’s children the means to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives as citizens, united within a hospitable Earth-XXI and within the framework of the golden mean. The Earth conditions necessary to create and sustain life: clean water, a breathable atmosphere, fertile soil, and temperatures compatible with life should be sustainable. Mr. Biden as a most important guardian of the planet (as Planetakis), we call upon you to add eons of quality to the earth’s environment and years of wellbeing to human life. International law, from the UN Charter to the law of the sea and human rights, are still powerful tools for dealing with and handling international relations.
As an optimist let me say that although law, order and legality are inadequately respected and global needs can overwhelm human sentiment, efforts to build a global society committed to peace have not faltered. Altruism is alive and well but with no fixed abode. Interdisciplinary public health is still the science to deal with an unpleasant surprise. Nevertheless, the horrendous Arctic snowstorm from Canada that swept the United States and reached Texas is what Cavafy tells us in Things ended: “Another disaster, one we never imagined, suddenly, violently, descends upon us and unprepared, sweeps us away”. In this case, intertwined systems were unprepared to cope with such a winter freeze. The planet’s future heat wave?
One last image, is of a stone and a Greek song by Kostas Hadjis: “He wondered why I gently took it from his hands, held it with love and kissed it with respect”. Sir, I said, there is no stone on earth not irrigated by blood, lots spilled here on Planet Earth, but the Earth still lives, still breathes. Our Earth still lives.