Q. 1) What is your daily morning-routine when you are in Europe? When do you get up? What do you eat? Sports daily? Meditation?
A. 1) I get up at about 7.30 AM every day of the year, when I'm at home. I don't eat breakfast, but drink a coffee and have a fresh juice. My wife, Princess Francoise and I talk every morning while she gets ready for her office. When Francoise goes to her office, she drops me at the local gym (5 days a week), where I do a 45 minute workout with weights, and hit five 2-minute rounds on the heavy boxing bag. I return home, take a shower, eat some muesli and yoghurt, and write for about five straight hours. My meditation technique is to ride my Triumph Bonneville motorcycle around the lake in Geneva for about 45 minutes. In the evening, I always try to have a hot bubble bath and a cooked dinner ready for Francoise when she comes home, but sometimes we’ll cook the meal together. We eat together, talk through the day's issues, and read books or watch a movie before bed.
Q. 2) Especially: what newspaper are you reading?
A. 2) I read several newspapers every day. The Guardian, The Observer, and The Independent in English (especially the Sunday Oberver International Edition, which is my favourite newspaper), Liberation in French, and Die Zeit or Die Welt in German. With magazines, I read New Scientist in English, Der Spiegel in German, and Le Monde Literaire in French. At least once a week I read the Indian magazine, India Today.
Q. 3) What is your special concern these days: Mumbai-politics? World politics? Obama?
A. 3) Nothing in the finite, physical universe is absolute. Therefore, nothing is absolutely good or evil. Some little good emerges from even the worst and most evil events, and some harm is caused by even the most benign events. The little good that emerged from the horror of the Holocaust and the incalculably destructive Second World War was the peace dividend that gave us the multilateralism of the United Nations and the European Community. Today, those who promote violence are experiencing peace-fatigue across the world. Nations are acting unilaterally, without even a nod towards the United Nations. There is a grave danger of widespread, localized conflict across the world, which could become the default setting for international relations. If multilateralism fails, it will take us at least two generations to rebuild the positive gains expressed through organizational groupings such as the UN and the EU.
In addition. we humans face global threats from food shortages and instabilities, water scarcity, degraded air quality resulting in endemic lung, eye and skin disorders, outbreaks of antibiotic resistant infections and diseases, irreversible breakdown in the stability of ecosystems, technopathic contamination of virtualsystems and ecosystems through nano-contaminants and cyber-viruses, the degradation of intellectual standards for establishing and verifying data, the debilitation of the intellectual discourse generally, consolidation of information sources in the hands of ever few players, sophisticated manipulation and propaganda techniques such as “astroturfing” by corporations and governments, the erosion of standards in creative arts, and purposive profit-centered contamination of food and beverage supplies across global markets. These are among my major special concerns at this time.
Q. 4) What can we do to reverse all these negative trends?
A. 4) Reinforce our determined commitment to the foundation documents that arose from the horrors and destruction of the Second World War, the end of empires and colonial regimes, and the liberation movements: the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and the other international covenants that protect rights and prohibit the abuses of power. Defend the principles of democratic governance that are common to all the world’s democratic variants: universal rights to vote in free, open and fair elections for representatives who will govern in the name of the people, for stipulated periods. Make the understanding of ourselves, our world, and our relationship to the universe the intellectual priority of all governments. Make the protection and preservation of all living things and habitats in the biosphere – and the biosphere itself – the highest moral priority of all governments. Eliminate illiteracy, human rights abuses of any kind, and preventable death as the highest social priority of all governments. And eliminate all weapons, and transform all armies into Peace Corps, dedicated to infrastructure improvement and multilateral co-operation as the highest security priority of all governments. That’s a start. If we manage that, the really hard work – such as loving our enemies until there are no enemies any more – will come later.