For the purpose of urging Patriots in other towns “to state the Rights of the Colonists of this Province,” Samuel Adams persuaded a Boston town meeting to establish a Committee of Correspondence. The year was 1772 and the Gaspee, a British Royal customs vessel in Rhode Island, had just been burned. Consequently, the British government broadened its powers, particularly in sending colonists to Britain to be tried for high treason. Within days, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson agreed that a revolutionary network of writing committees should be established to link the colonies. By mid-1773, almost every colonial assembly had Committees of Correspondence, expressing the various ideals of freedoms and liberties, even independence. A growing political awareness took shape too as other perceived injustices were communicated, and as local forums discussed and debated the principles of equality and rights.
Now that a global interconnectedness appears to have taken form, what would happen if Global Committees of Trans-Correspondence were established? Indeed, would it be possible to have political leaders and non-governmental organizations from one nation pen and exchange their ideas and grievances with the mainstream press of other nations? The New York Times did just this when it published Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed. For the very first time, Americans were privy to President Putin’s desires, asking President Barack Obama not to attack Syria, and warning “insufficient communication” still exists between the two societies.” He also expressed how international laws and consensus building should be respected before going to war, how conflicts can needlessly escalate and result in innocent civilians dying, and that America’s alarming interventions in foreign countries had become commonplace and not in its best long-term interest.(1)
A Russian newspaper then printed Senator John McCain’s letter, another case of global trans-correspondence. Russians read how he thought he was “more pro-Russian than President Putin,” even attacking his character. Russians, wrote Senator McCain, deserve someone better. Next he listed a litany of Russia’s weaknesses and corruptions, including supposed individual human rights abuses. Finally, he criticized President Putin for intervening in Syria’s Civil War, and for pressuring the government in destroying its chemical weapons.(2) Although many found Senator McCain’s op-ed degrading, even misinformed and ethnocentric, it still served as a starting point in how some Americans perceive the world. On the contrary, President Putin’s letter was poignant, dealing entirely with civil diplomacy, how Russia and America were allies in defeating the Nazis, and the dangers of lethal militarism, of always using the “language of force.”
Both mainstream newspapers should be praised for their freedoms of expression and of the press. In response to Senator McCain’s fallacical argument, of aggressively attacking and demeaning the person instead of the person’s policies, Global Committees of Tran-Correspondence could possibly agree on a framework of rules and regulations. Letters should be civil and appropriate, free from “character assassinations.” And like President Putin’s correspondence, which emphasized solving the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and the nuclear dispute between the US and Iran, without bloodshed and war, letters should emphasize commonalities, the importance of working together and more conciliatory approaches. Just think how Global Trans-Correspondences could create a new revolution in writing and thinking and speaking, something the internet is already doing as it gives voices to the Many from various parts of the world.
The original colonial Committees of Correspondence politicized ordinary townspeople, sparking a revolutionary language of rights and responsibilities. They also broadened the concepts of liberty and equality. Through the power of freely sharing ideals and information through letters, the first Constitutional Convention was arranged. This led to other popular movements and the seminal Declaration of Independence, which led to the American Revolution and the birth of a new nation. At least for the United States, another revolution is desperately needed. It is a revolution in re-perceiving its own identity, of re-thinking its role and purpose in world affairs. A revolution of re-imagining the world, of becoming more globally conscientious and aware of other peoples and their views, would greatly benefit Americans. Visualize what would happen if President Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani not only exchanged one private letter,(3) but several, having them published in both nation’s mainstream presses.
Try and imagine too what would have happened if political leaders and nongovernmental organizations from Iraq and Afghanistan could have made known their ideals, histories, and grievances in the American mainstream press. Perhaps then, the sword would not have been more powerful than the pen. The highest form of treason is not necessarily individual-sponsored treason but state-sponsored, of betraying the people by censoring them and then leading them into unnecessary wars.