The book of Revelation, which narrates the final clashes of our history, between the forces of death and those of life, paints us a horse of fire that symbolizes war: “the rider was given to banish the peace of the earth so that men behead each other”(6,4). The war between Russia and Crimea and the order of the Russian president to keep nuclear weapons on high alert, provoke us to the action of the fire horse, the beheading of humanity, worth say, a human Armageddon.
The severe sanctions imposed by NATO and the USA on the Russian Federation can lead to the collapse of its entire economy. In the face of this national disaster, the possibility that the Russian leader does not accept defeat as if Napoleon (1812) or Hitler (1942) had taken the country, which they failed to do. Then he would carry out the threats and launch a nuclear strike. Only Russia’s arsenal can destroy, several times, all life on the planet. And a strike can damage the entire biosphere without which our life could not survive.
Behind this Russia/Ukraine confrontation hide powerful forces in dispute for world hegemony: Russia, allied with China and the USA. The strategy of the latter is more or less known, guided by two main ideas: “one world and one empire” (the USA), guaranteed by full-spectrum dominance: domination in all fields with 800 military bases distributed around the world, but also with economic, ideological and cultural domination.
Such complete domination would underlie the USA’s claim to be “exceptional”, to be “the indispensable and necessary nation”, the “anchor of global security” or the “only truly world power”. In this imperial will, NATO, behind which the USA stands, expanded to the limits of Russia. All that was needed was the insertion of Ukraine to close the siege. Missiles placed on the Ukrainian border would reach Moscow in minutes.
Hence Russia’s demand for Ukraine to remain neutral, otherwise it would be invaded. This is what happened with the perversities that every war produces. No war is justifiable because it kills human lives and goes against the meaning of things, which is the tendency to persist in existence.
China, in turn, disputes world hegemony not through military means, even in alliance with Russia, but through economic means with its great projects such as the Silk Road. In this field it is surpassing the USA and would reach world hegemony even with a certain ethical ideal, that of creating “a community of common destiny shared by all humanity, with societies sufficiently supplied”.
But I don’t want to prolong this warlike perspective, truly insane to the point of being suicidal. But this confrontation of powers reveals the unawareness of the actors on the screen about the real risks to the planet that, even without nuclear weapons, could endanger human life. It must be said that all arsenals of weapons of mass destruction have proven to be totally useless and ridiculous in the face of a tiny virus like Covid-19.
This war reveals that those responsible for human destiny have not learned the basic lesson of Covid-19. It has not respected national sovereignties and national boundaries, it has affected the entire planet. The epidemic calls for the establishment of global governance in the face of a global problem. The challenge goes beyond national borders, it is to build the Common Home.
They have not realized that the big problem is global warming. We are already in it, since the fatal events of flooding entire regions, typhoons, and shortage of fresh water are visible. We only have 9 years to avoid a situation of no return. If by 2030 we reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of heat, we will be unable to control it and will be heading towards a collapse of the Earth-system and the life-systems.
We have reached the limits of Earth’s sustainability (Earth Overshoo) data show that by September 22, 2020, the non-renewable resources necessary for life will be exhausted.The consumerism that persists demands of Earth what she can no longer give.In response, she sends us deadly viruses, increases warming, destabilizes climates, and decimates thousands of living beings.
Overpopulation associated with a disastrous social inequality, with the vast majority of humanity living in poverty and misery, when 1% of them control 90% of the wealth and essential goods and services, can lead to conflicts with countless victims and the devastation of entire ecosystems.
These are the problems,among others,that should concern the heads of state,the CEOs of large corporations and the citizens,because they directly jeopardize the future of all humanity. In the face of this global risk, a war for zones of influence and obsolete sovereignties is ridiculous.
What gives us hope are those anonymous “Noahs” that are sprouting everywhere, from below, building their saving arks through production that respects the limits of nature, through agro-ecology, through communities of solidarity, through participatory socio-ecological democracies, working from their own territories. They have the strength of the seed of the new, and with a new mind (the Earth as Gaia) and a new heart (a bond of affection and care for nature) they guarantee a new future with the awareness of universal responsibility and global interdependence. Their war is against hunger and the production of death, and their struggle is for justice for all, promotion of life, and defense of the weakest and most destitute.
They are not alone. There are powerful forces with another vision of necessary development and that do not subscribe to capitalist logic but produce in harmony with nature that are bearers of hope for another necessary world.
That is what must be. And what should be, has intrinsically an invincible force.
Leonardo Boff is an eco-theologian, philosopher, and has written Inhabiting the Earth: what is the way to universal brotherhood? Vozes 2021.