The woomera of Truth and Peace Making is Not at War

The definition of woomera is a type of notched stick used by native Australians to increase leverage and propulsion in the throwing of a spear. For myself in this title it is the spear of truth I am interested in. My target is real peace or another way of feeling it is harmony.

When I traveled to Woomera I realized on the signage that Roxby Downs was close by and the Olympic Dam Uranium mine. My understanding is that it is the biggest uranium mine in the world. Moreover, I remembered that the Woomera Detention Centre was also in this area. I also saw a car next to mine at the caravan park which had a sign about minerals exploration. That raised my awareness.

Again, a connection was what I felt. The Woomera missile range was used for testing short range and long range missiles. Then it transformed into aerospace with the largest companies in the world having a presence at Woomera. When I went for some hot water at the local café inside the Cultural Museum I noticed the shop assistant wearing a logo of BAE Systems. A quick overview of BAE as follows:

BAE Systems plc (LSE: BA.) is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that has global interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is among the world’s largest military contractors; in 2009 it was the second-largest based on revenues.[3][4] It was formed on 30 November 1999 by the £7.7 billion merger of two British companies, Marconi Electronic Systems (MES), the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc (GEC), and aircraft, munitions and naval systems manufacturer British Aerospace (BAe)…. BAE Systems is involved in several major defence projects, including the F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Astute-class submarine and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The company has been the subject of criticism, in terms of general opposition to the arms trade and particularly specific allegations of unethical and corrupt practices, including Saudi Arabian Al Yamamah contracts with BAE and its predecessor. In 2010, BAE Systems agreed to pay £286 million in criminal fines to the Serious Fraud Office and the US Department of Justice…BAE Systems is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. (refer

Given the above, the presence and working relationship of a large foreign manufacturer within an Australian army base, close to a source of uranium one would think would raise questions. I just read now that BAE also supports oil and gas market exploration. Refer Interestingly enough marketing comes to mind at this point. Usually multinationals buy up the channel of supply to ensure it is secure. For example typically they buy up the raw materials, the manufacturers and retailers to control the marketing channel to keep prices down for product development. I thought about the military needing to secure commodities to ensure energy and inputs to manufacture and the importance of developing strong relationships with governments, who are their primary customers. To have a foreign multinational such as BAE present at an Australian army base would raise for me the question of embedded foreign interests. As a citizen in a democracy it is appropriate for me to raise questions in Australia’s national interest and as a global citizen. BAE is not serving Australian’s they are serving shareholders. Interestingly in the museum I saw displays of missiles and the history of Woomera which according to this perspective arose out of the V2 bombing of London in WWII. A search was conducted for a missile range to test weapons. There was no mention of the nuclear missiles detonated in the 1950’s and 1960’s and when you came to the exhibit about the future it seemed to focus on supersonic aircraft for civilian passengers with no mention of military applications. Yet looking at the BAE website it appears that aerospace is about military air platforms. I don’t see the public service there. It is also a British company which brings Australia back into its former relationship with the British reminiscent of the 1950’s. I found that interesting. Moreover, during the intervening period Woomera was utilized as an Australian/US defence facility. Many American military families lived in Woomera, in the museum some tensions were reported. The arrangement was to launch satellites and missiles as part of the US security umbrella, is the way I would perceive this relationship.

Looking at the Olympic Dam Uranium Mine, you realize it is the largest in the world. Here is a brief overview by wikipedia refer,_South_Australia. Olympic Dam is a mining centre in South Australia located some 550 km NNW of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It is the site of an extremely large iron oxide copper gold deposit producing copper, uranium, gold and silver. The site hosts an underground mine as well as an integrated metallurgical processing plant. It is the fourth largest copper deposit and the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world, though uranium represents only a minority of the mine’s total revenue… The deposit was discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1975 near Roxby Downs Sheep Station and started production in 1988. It now belongs to BHP Billiton, which acquired WMC Resources in 2005. The mine currently operates by an underground mining method called sublevel open stoping, using modern and highly productive mining equipment. The March 2005 mine production rate is an annualised 9.1 million tonnes making it one of Australia’s larger mines. 2005 metal production is thought to be in excess of 220,000 tonnes of copper, 4500 tonnes of uranium oxide, plus gold and silver. The copper and uranium oxide are exported through Port Adelaide. Most of the mine workers live in the nearby towns of Roxby Downs and Andamooka. Regular flights to Olympic Dam Airport serve Olympic Dam. The Olympic Dam mine uses 35 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water each day, making it the largest industrial user of underground water in the southern hemisphere.[1] Because artesian pressure is high in the south of the basin the water flows to the surface via mound springs. Water is pumped along an underground pipeline from two bore fields which are located 110 km and 200 km to the north of the mine.[2] The salty bore water requires desalination before it is used. Contaminated water from mining operations is passed through a series of sealed ponds where it evaporates.

I found it interesting the involvement of BHP Billiton who acquired Western Mining Corporation. Moreover, I felt interest in the pumping of water from the Great Artesian Basin and immediately I question whether the Artesian Basin is a non renewable source and the issue of water rights. Is it recharging or losing water? Of course I wonder about the effectiveness of evapourating contaminated water and the residual left behind. Is it clean?

The proximity of the world’s largest uranium mine to Woomera which has the presence of one of the world’s largest military manufacturers and the Australian Military raises for me questions. I recall the war in Iraq and the concerns they had a weapons program and the alleged intention of creating weapons of mass destruction. Scott Ritter, former US Senior Weapons Inspector in Iraq, made it clear it was an illegitimate war of aggression and he stated the CIA did indeed have a policy that there will always be a specified number of WMD’s whether they are there or not. So we turn to Australia, certainly at Woomera it has been a working missile range, it has a history of detonating nuclear weapons and has the world’s largest defence manufacturer in the business of weapons sales and mining interests. The world’s largest uranium mine close by would raise the ire of international concerns, I would have thought more than Iraq. So it begs the question why? What makes Australia different?

My thinking moves to a democratic world where there is equal power sharing and not uni-polar. Although this position is shifting with the Double A rating of the US and changing economic power around the world. Whilst democracy appears to be a word, I do feel it is the best security that can be offered when the majority of the people have a real voice. Not one that appears to be, but actually a say in what is happening, as 90% of casualties of war are civilians. This brings us to the refugee issue which is to my surprise a continuing political debate here in Australia. Of course many refugees are fleeing war, particularly those from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other war torn countries. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which Australia is a signatory, countries have obligations to take in or provide refuge for people fleeing persecution. Interestingly the origin of the refugee convention was to protect the fleeing refugees from war, during and after WWII. So that is our link to the philosophy of inquiry around Woomera. Here is the definition:

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is an international convention that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals. The Convention also provides for some visa-free travel for holders of travel documents issued under the convention… the convention was approved at a special United Nations conference on 28 July 1951. It entered into force on 22 April 1954. It was initially limited to protecting European refugees after World War II but a 1967 Protocol removed the geographical and time limits, expanding the Convention’s scope. Because the convention was approved in Geneva, it is often referred to as “the Geneva Convention,” though it is not one of the Geneva Conventions specifically dealing with allowable behavior in a time of war.

Article 1 of the Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol provides the definition of a refugee:
“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it..”

I don’t wish to go too much into the politics as it is a rhetoric that continues endlessly. I wish to shift the mindset to one of a higher consciousness. We are on one planet and at the moment we have set up systems whereby we compete with each other. When I was moving through the Woomera Rocket Museum I just felt glimpses of men competing with each other to have the best rocket systems, who enjoyed building their toys and didn’t give much thought to the humanitarian consequences of where those missiles fall (hence the refugee issue). They followed orders, they believed the mission before them and didn’t question. I find myself returning to the same thought which focuses on the repression of men’s emotional state of being, which in truth, when opened up leads to their liberation. The fact they are raised to deny their feelings, to not cry, to not be seen as emotional (weak) is a teaching which has led many to deny their feelings and cause deep frustrations without an outlet. I don’t see this as a glib statement, I see it as significant in the way men are thinking and feeling these days. I welcome their input on this as well, of course. I do not see this denial as the real masculinity, I see it as a created masculinity based on fear and bravado which, I feel is false. Of course this is not all men, there are a percentage who are very open, in touch with feelings, good communicators and face fear without violence. There are many who are not and are deeply emotionally blocked. This can be seen by signs of depression, suicide or impassivity (coldness). I see this as having serious ramifications for effective decision making, that not only focuses on the objective, but has the ability to look at the social/emotional consequences and hence, the way the world is seen and felt in reality. When I studied International Relations I was taught about the Philosophers John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, it became clear that the world is seen in two major ways.

The Lockean perspective is briefly outlined: John Locke argued that people have rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, that have a foundation independent of the laws of any particular society. Locke used the claim that men are naturally free and equal as part of the justification for understanding legitimate political government as the result of a social contract where people in the state of nature conditionally transfer some of their rights to the government in order to better insure the stable, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, and property. Since governments exist by the consent of the people in order to protect the rights of the people and promote the public good, governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with new governments. Refer Hence this mode of thinking is about human rights and democratic governance.

The Hobbesian perspective in essence is as follows. Thomas Hobbes main concern is the problem of social and political order: how human beings can live together in peace and avoid the danger and fear of civil conflict. He poses stark alternatives: we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign (a person or group empowered to decide every social and political issue). Otherwise what awaits us is a “state of nature” that closely resembles civil war – a situation of universal insecurity, where all have reason to fear violent death and where rewarding human cooperation is all but impossible. One controversy has dominated interpretations of Hobbes. Does he see human beings as purely self-interested or egoistic? Several passages support such a reading, leading some to think that his political conclusions can be avoided if we adopt a more realistic picture of human nature. Refer So the Hobbesian viewpoint offers social control.

The egoic mind is one that serves self interest and regards the world as separate and seeks to further one’s own interests without regard for the whole. The virtuous mind is one that goes through the emotional filter to access the humanity within. It is an internal navigation system which is deeply grounded in values. These are universal values not culturally defined. As one goes deeper into values, the so called spiritual life emerges as feeling connected to the whole rather than the self. That is my understanding of it.

In many respects the justification for military resides in the notion that we need protection that we live in a world of tooth and claw, it is dangerous and if we don’t arm we will be destroyed by the next most powerful enemy. The war on terror was an example of creating fear about the ‘other’. I personally see it as the emotional detachment of men that creates the world that appears unfeeling to the suffering of others. I note it is not all men and that there are women in this emotionally detached category. I see it more in the stereotypes that children are taught about being female and male. Moreover, females and the chemicals of estrogen do create the feminine and the testosterone creates the masculine. However, the beliefs that create stereotypes are learned and these chemical differences can be exaggerated by social conditioning, in my perception. For example, let me throw in a right field comment, as a clown, I don’t feel either gender. I feel universal. That is the power of letting go of beliefs and living in a space of unconditional love, all labels of separation disappear for me.

So back to the central issue, I feel the detachment emotionally is the key issue. When we are trained to see or look for an enemy, that is what we see. I told Scott Ritter there is no enemy, I now see it as unquestioned thinking in my own head when negative. As I am the source of what I see and feel. When we are trained to problem solve and see the other as an equal or recognition of misunderstandings, we have room to resolve conflict. Moreover, when I look to solve a problem and not hate a person, I am focused on solutions not perpetuating problems. When we demonise in warfare/politics calling the other the enemy we are not in problem solving mode, we are creating an opponent in which we justify destroying their image or them personally.

I see the Lockean (libertarian) viewpoint in my own philosophy as the right to be human and that international law, conflict resolution and social forums (agoras) as the wisest forums for dealing with conflicted thoughts (war, fighting). I see war as unintelligent and it perpetuates conflict by suppressing opponents and it drains resources that could be better used in training people for problem solving, conflict resolution, peace and harmony. We could redirect funds to sustainability and developing systems that are in harmony with the planet and the true nature of humans.

I see the military and political adversarial approaches that see an enemy as mirroring the world of tooth and claw as Hobbesian (social control) and this creates more conflict and unhappiness, I feel. It distracts us from the real ecological and economic issues that are happening across the planet right now. Indeed we don’t even look into who we are and why were are here on this planet in space, these are the most important questions.

The politicization of refugees has been interesting to observe without any real consideration of the truth of what causes the flow of refugees. Instead in Australia they are typically perceived through the media as illegal when they come by boat. Little consideration is given to their desperation and life threatening journeys or the reality they face which motivated them to leave their homes. Little philosophical discussion explores the military interventions used to exert power and control through violence which causes the refugee flows and to discuss alternative interventions designed to promote communication, problem solving and empowerment of people to live to their highest potential and solve problems at home. Little thought is given to the structure of the world and whether this serves people at the end of the day or takes us down a path that is a lose/lose. People watch television and become influenced by the clever arguments designed to make one side wrong and the other right. This then makes them look like leaders of choice either through fear, misinformation or perceived strength standing tough on issues. Thus the people seeking refuge are used in political power plays which is reflected by mindsets that accept violence as the state of play and power as winning, in my view.

I do not see any backward glance at the economic systems that reward winners. These winners are not driven by virtues, they are driven by economic profit maximization and rewarded along those lines. Even the industries they find themselves in, are unlikely to be their personal passion, they are doing it for the money and that is the success. They are seen as successful and gain access to government as money and influence is the motivation. Countries are run on fear, they must ensure their economic GDP is rising and employment is growing. Otherwise political opponents will criticize their policies and blame them as poor economic managers. When in truth the economic systems of the world are configured by companies such as domestic, transnational and multinational players who are running the system. The governments extract taxes and enforce laws but they are dependent on the economic activity. Therefore, those in the economic paradigm showing success will be favoured in this system. Therefore, democracy hasn’t been experienced yet. Thus the Lockean view of the world is still a tension between those who espouse human rights and international democracy and those who subscribe to power and control as the main paradigm.

So my trip to Woomera raised many issues for me to reflect on. I do feel that the balance of true power is shifting. I do feel a change in consciousness is happening and I am witnessing the last days of a power and control system. There are natural limits to the planet and that is becoming evident. No company can control nature and this is where the real decisive change will come. You cannot keep extracting resources, despoiling underground water, polluting the natural world without consequences. Nature is non negotiable. The mistakes of the past will be faced as denial cannot be held down. Men will have to re-explore what it is to be a real man. That is to feel their manhood, and when fully realized, is truly wonderful. The masculine that has denied the feminine of openness, emotions, connectedness and purpose will arise I feel. As men realize they are not fulfilled living out this stereotype which is not real, they will start to question who they are. I feel the same for women who play out the role of girls not women, who are dependent, who feel afraid of the world, I would say step out of your comfort zone and face what you fear and find the unlimited part of yourself. Go and empower yourself with something you would like to try, embrace your own voice as it is equal and speak up so we can learn from you (this applies to men as well). Then men and women will come together as equals yet different and work out the problems that beset the planet right now. We have to work together with respect and equality, that is the way we redesign a future that is no longer scared of shadows, but is problem solving based, where we face what we fear and create a world that is in harmony. This is the goal of humanity and it is where we are going. It is our true nature that is taking us there.

Peace is not an empty concept, it is when we inquire into our negative beliefs and take responsibility for the projections we created and called true. The real truth is that we are peaceful by nature and when we question ourselves the peace is there. There is no other to fight with, it is ourselves that is conflicted and that is where the real work of peace comes in. We cannot create peace by militarisation, we cannot create security by economic forces that take more than we need and we cannot demonstrate humanity by refusing people seeking refuge whether that be economic or as war refugees. The unity we are seeking is within each of us and when we question for truth, amazing worlds arise. The possibilities of the future are endless when we are open to a peaceful and inspiring future. I certainly am, I hope you will join me in the heart.

Nothing is impossible, we all choose the shape of the world. There are no enemies only potential friends.

Much love and peace.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”