A CARING WORLD

We read constantly about terrible happenings throughout the world. Young people, particularly, feel that the world is in a terrible state. In fact, it is now possible to have "A Caring World." Consider these historic changes in human behavior for the past few years:

1. For many years, the United States and Soviet Union were mortal enemies. Following the end of communism in Russia the two nations are friends. This is essentially the first time in history two major enemy nations, or groups of nations, have attained a peaceful relationship without first resorting to world war. Consider the past: England against Spain, England against France for 100 years, France and England against Germany, the United States against Germany and Japan, etc.

2. Eastern Europe and Russia have recently undergone the most massive revolution in history. Hundreds of millions of people, without guns, faced tanks of dictators in the streets and overthrew tyrants. The remarkable fact is this occurred with minimal loss of life. Compare this to the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

3. In Somalia, for the first time, the United States and other countries invaded a third world nation with only one purpose -- to feed starving people and establish democracy.

4. The democratic elections in South Africa that eliminated apartheid we one of the great accomplishments, perhaps the greatest, in all human history. Would you have predicted a peaceful transition in South Africa from minority domination to freedom? No war has achieved such a remarkable triumph.

5. Peace is a possibility between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

6. Events in Northern Ireland suggest a permanent peace is possible.

7. It is inconceivable that a war will take place between European nations.

Let us update to major difficulties in the world today and place them in perspective. The 911 tragedy cost 2800 lives, a terrible occurrence. Compare this to World War II, however, when bombing cities with intent to destroy them and all civilians in the city was routine.

The number of deaths reported in our past wars include 600,000 deaths in the Civil War, more than 50,000 each in Korea and Vietnam, let alone Word Wars I and II. Consider the war in Iraq. Each day we are told that one or two soldiers or a number of civilians are killed in car bombings and attacks. The number of U.S. military deaths has just surpassed 500. Every death is a tragedy and people are deeply saddened over each loss. Our concern for the individual deaths in Iraq indicates a higher degree of caring than has occurred in the past.

Television is one of the reasons for increased caring. We see children holding guns or lying dead and they look like our own kids, even if a different race. Computers and air travel bring together people throughout the world. One of the greatest factors toward caring is the interdependence of economies and the environment. No country is going to get too angry at China, which consists of 1.3 billion consumers, and the Chinese are not going to carry out acts that will deter their manufacturing of products for others. If it takes economic advantages to bring the people of the world together, so be it.

In 1998, I was invited to Iran and spent two weeks speaking in six cities and on TV. Three days before I left, a press conference was held. A young woman reporter for the Iran News asked if I had heard President Khatami, the reformist President of Iran, on CNN, and I replied affirmatively. She asked, "What did you think of him?" I answered, cautiously , " President Khatami said he wanted to bring people together. At The Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, we have a program called "A Caring World' to do the same thing, so I agree with him." The next day a one inch headline, "A Caring World, The Slogan of Heimlich," appeared in the Iran News over a half page story. Considering our poor relationship with Iran at the time, this concept can be accomplished throughout the world.

The first stumbling steps to a caring world have been taken. It is important that we spread the word throughout the world that, for the first time, A Caring World is possible. When all are conscious of the benefits that can result for all peoples from caring, it will be possible to accomplish that end. We must demand that caring continues to disseminate throughout the world; a meaningful sense of values must be established. Caring individuals must be the role models for all people, but especially for the young. The media should deliberately spread the pictures and words of those doing caring acts for others internationally, as is now done for athletes, entertainers and politicians. Nothing is more important for the survival of humanity from this day forward. True happiness results from giving of yourself for others. Have you done a caring act lately?

In 1993, I visited Vietnam with a group of surgeons participating in the program "People- to-People Ambassadors," who were meeting at the Hanoi Airport with Vietnamese colleagues. When he introduced me, the head Vietnamese surgeon said, "Oh, Dr. Heimlich, everyone in Vietnam knows your name." Naturally, I thought he was referring to the Maneuver. Then he said, "The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve saved tens of thousands of our people during the war. The American Friends Service Society (Quakers) kept us supplied with Heimlich Valves." After that, each meeting was opened by the chairperson saying, "Dr. Heimlich will live in the hearts of the Vietnamese people forever." Knowing the Valve had saved lives on both sides of that destructive war was one of the greatest moments in my life.