Meanwhile, Around the World


Johan Galtung and Antonio C. S. Rosa – TRANSCEND Media Service

Antonio: I have a question dear Johan. I see the world going to hell literally and figuratively. Trump, Bolsonaro, Moreno, Orbán, Salvini, May, Macron, neo-Nazis, Buddhist terrorism (the newest novelty), the obsession of the super-very-obscenely rich in increasing their wealth, power, leverage over and above all on the planet (the new rat race is who is gonna be the first individual trillionaire), wars, torture (I still remember mine, will never forget…), and last but not least the apparent apathy from especially the youth mesmerized and duped with their faces buried in cell phones, tablets, computers, oblivious to life happening all around them. No wonder the Japanese are losing their sex drive: love, touching, no more. Sex is porno, genitalia only, like dogs and cats. Music, literature, arts, poetry, love, nobility, ideals, social consciousness, are things for museums, memorabilia, updated, so last century. And still most think we are the tip of evolution.

Some people don’t agree with me and think there is hope, humanity has bounced back from calamities and near-extinction in the past and shall do it again. I am of the opinion that we are in a Petri dish, the earth, and are all doomed by our own doings. The first class of yours I attended as an undergraduate at University of Hawaii 30+ years ago was about contraction/expansion of civilizations. Is something like that happening right now with the demise of the American empire of bases? Or is it really something else?

Johan:  I think it is all of that, and it is more, and it is less.

Humanity has bounced back as you say, like from the Black Death, the pest of the mid 1300s. Some say we have been on Planet Earth for 100 million years, so maybe we will hang on for some more years.

I have a sort of built-in tendency to search for answers, not only questions, for solutions, not only problems.  Too many people seem to rest contented with questions and problems, particularly questions they think nobody can answer and problems with no solutions.  Many of them, maybe most, are academics, making such intellectual “achievements” a trade mark of the academic craft.

We are our own worst enemies.  Nature can be unpleasant.  But we can and do identify and live at a distance from zones of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flood waves. We have learnt–but it took some time–to use clothing and housing as protection against the climate. We are good at extracting enough food for our own sustenance but bad at distribution and at handling the waste. Both may come, and soon.

In fact, we seem to have come to the point that we ourselves, as the major cause of death and being wounded through violence and war, are our own worst enemies.  And yet we refer to ourselves as being “intelligent”, searching all over for something equally “intelligent”.

Imagine we found life so intelligent as to do good things to each other and not bad, nor mixing the two like we do?  Cooperating, for mutual and reasonably equal benefit?  Kropotkin, not Darwin?  Or at least Imanishi, the Japanese researcher pointing to exploration of new zones of life as we certainly try, exploring cosmos?  Would we learn?

Or, are we so much in love with ourselves the way we are that improvement is not an issue?  It is amazing how some in US do as you point out, fill the amazing cosmos we are now entering with images of even more violence than on earth–with some exceptions, though.

The remedy?  Do the opposite.  Invent new ways of being good to each other.  As you point out, not only to the genitals but also that: staying inside, for a long time, not moving.  Could it be that even for sex we often think we are so good at we are only at the beginning of a fascinating journey of ever new ways of being good to each other?

How about being good to each other with words?  Could it be that even with words we are also only at the beginning?  How much effort do we put into a good conversation?  As much as into a good copulation?  And yet exploring something together is such a marvellous experience, from the trivia of weather to the philosophical depth of the meaning of our existence.  Using these wonderful tools called words, linking them together in sentences, speaking them, listening to them.

And that joy is potentially available wherever two or more assembled are.  Even only one, yourself, with yourself.  Enjoy!


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

Antonio Carlos da Silva Rosa, born 1946, is founder-editor of the pioneering Peace Journalism website, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS (from 2008), an assistant to Prof. Johan Galtung, Secretary of the International Board of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, and recipient of the Psychologists for Social Responsibility’s 2017 Anthony J. Marsella Prize for the Psychology of Peace and Social Justice. He completed the required coursework for a Ph.D. in Political Science-Peace Studies (1994), has a Masters in Political Science-International Relations (1990), and a B.A. in Communication (1988) from the University of Hawai’i. Originally from Brazil, he lives presently in Porto, Portugal. Antonio was educated in the USA where he lived for 20 years; in Europe-India since 1994. Books: Transcender e Transformar: Uma Introdução ao Trabalho de Conflitos (from Johan Galtung, translation to Portuguese, 2004); Peace Journalism: 80 Galtung Editorials on War and Peace (2010, editor); Cobertura de Conflitos: Jornalismo para a Paz (from Johan Galtung, Jake Lynch & Annabel McGoldrick, translation to Portuguese, 2010). TMS articles by Antonio HERE.Videos HERE and HERE.



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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Jun 2019.

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11 Responses to “Meanwhile, Around the World”

  1. David Doerr says:

    We are living Arthur C. Clarke’s novel (sans Overlords), titled CHILDHOOD’S END. Science is destroying every form of religion. John Paul II noted the same evil regarding the Enlightenment: We only recognize a god who exists outside of the universe. We ignore the reality of God who dwells among us, and exclude God from human affairs.

  2. Per-Stian says:

    Thank you for the introduction, Antonio, putting words to some of the sheer frustration I feel about the contemporary world. Can’t even follow the news much any more, as it’s just bad event after the other. In the 2000s at least South/Central America had some positivity going, with increased independence and lifting people out of poverty.

    There are definitely times I catch myself thinking: Let’s say a meteor smashes into Earth and blows everything to splinters. Would it really be that bad? At least we won’t be able to spread our evil deeds to other planets. And we seem to be well on the way to eradicate life on our own anyway.

    Thankfully there *are* good things happening, like the youth awakening partly led by the glorious Swede Greta Thunberg.

    Provided our species continues for another few hundreds years, which for better or worse looks exceedingly likely, one must wonder what people tend will think about our near-complete inaction to the knowledge we are actively destroying life around us and the planet’s ability to sustain life. So many people want a change as well, just see the polls. But then you see from various grand top-level climate meetings, and most everybody (especially in the West) are dragging their feet. It’s a competition to do the least, in the vain hope that somebody else will do more, and “we” can somehow “win”. Why can’t we cooperate more? See the bigger picture? Work together to achieve more than we ever can individually or as countries? Apparently ants are vastly more intelligent than human beings.

    Maybe time to play “Imagine” on repeat for a few days =)

  3. Giving up - never says:

    Great minds you two

  4. George Kent says:

    Start with Johan’s closing words . . .

    “Invent new ways of being good to each other. . . How about being good to each other with words? Could it be that even with words we are also only at the beginning? How much effort do we put into a good conversation? . . . And yet exploring something together is such a marvelous experience, from the trivia of weather to the philosophical depth of the meaning of our existence. Using these wonderful tools called words, linking them together in sentences, speaking them, listening to them. And that joy is potentially available wherever two or more assembled are. . . Enjoy!”

    The Internet gives us good opportunities to “Invent new ways of being good to each other.” To give an example, any reader of Transcend Media Service could carry this conversation forward by starting an online keyboard chat using Skype. While not everyone has easy access to the Internet, many of us do. We could participate in that conversation at little or no cost. None of us would have to get on airplanes. If we do it as a keyboard (not voice) chat, the differences in our time zones wouldn’t matter. We would transcend time and space. I know Johan and Antonio like the idea of transcending.

    The setup and hosting of peace-centered conversations should be done by young peace activists. Any of you could reply to this message by saying something like, “I would like this conversation to continue beyond this TMS comment space. If you would like to participate in an online Skype conversation on x, please let me know by sending me an email at zyz, and let me know your Skype ID

    Maybe a small group could form to organize an open-ended series of online chats, or “salons” based on TMS articles and other topics of interest to the participants.

    I would be happy to advise and participate, but I would like to see some young peace activists set this up.

    George Kent

  5. David Doerr says:

    What is missing in the conversations that the planet’s clerics bring to the table is what John Paul II referred to as the philosophy of existence of Thomas Aquinas. Our generation has turned its back on metaphysics, in the same fashion that the men of the Enlightenment did. This is referenced by Tom Shipley in relation to J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing. In the Forward to Shippey’s book, J.R.R. TOLKIEN – AUTHOR OF THE CENTURY, Shippey explains: “I argue that his continuing appeal rests not on mere charm or strangeness (though both are there and can again to some extent be explained), but on a deeply serious response to what will be seen in the end as the major issues of his century: the origin and nature of evil (an eternal issue, but one in Tolkien’s lifetime terribly re-focused); human existence in Middle-earth, without the support of divine Revelation; cultural relativity, and the corruptions and continuities of language.” We have become a people that has ceased to discuss the reality of divine Revelation. “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?'” (Jer. 2:8)

  6. David Doerr says:

    “These human-driven changes are so severe that scientists believe we may be inducing a mass extinction event.”

  7. Holy cow!!! Antonio Rosa! Man, it’s been such a long time. We were students at the University of Hawaii Manoa political science dept nearly 30 years ago!! That’s way back when George Kent was just a young professor! lol! I see him here. Anyway, I wanted to read again Galtung’s “Cultural Violence” article from the Journal of Peace Research and was searching for it online. I found it, but I also followed links and found you on some Youtube video and then here! Wow. It’s great to see you here, working as you do with/alongside Johan Galtung. Email me when you have time. I want to reconnect with you again and talk-story. I use a gmail address. It’s richardnsalvador at g mail. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!! Mahalo.