#1249 – Dick Bernard: World Premiere “The World Is My Country” Minneapolis April 23

Anyone with an interest in and advocacy for Peace and Justice and International Issues will want to see this film, the story of Garry Davis, World Citizen #1. The World Premiere showing is Sunday afternoon April 23, 2:30 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis. All details are here (The film is one of two events linked at the header of the home page.)

(click to enlarge photos)
The occasion of Garry Davis’ death in July, 2013 merited front page coverage in the New York Times.

New York Times front page July 29, 2013. Garry Davis pictured in lower right.

The nub of this true story: Garry Davis, an up and comer on Broadway, became a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII. The contradiction of killing innocent people in the European theater caused him to give up his U.S. citizenship in 1948, and the rest of his life was spent as a “citizen of the world”.

“The World is My Country” tells this true story, through Garry Davis’ own words, and is very well-laced with archival film footage. I highly recommend the film specifically for young people interested in history and making a difference in the world we’re leaving them. It is a message of and for peace, coming at a time when we seem to have forgotten the insanity of war as solution, coming from a messenger who participated in war as a bomber pilot in WWII. But it is more than just a story; much is a solutions message for viewers.

Pre-film publicity from Director Arthur Kanegis says this: “The World Is My Country”: “A song and dance man pulls off an act of political theater so gutsy and eye-opening that it sparks a huge people power movement that paves the way for the UN’s unanimous passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Leaping off the Broadway stage onto the world stage as “World Citizen #1” Garry Davis spends the next 65 years of his life as a citizen of no nation, only Earth — travelling the globe on his “World Passport.”

Hailed by Albert Einstein for “the sacrifices he has made for the well-being of humanity,” extolled by Buckminster Fuller as the “New World Man,” and egged on by Eleanor Roosevelt to start “a worldwide international government,” Garry’s story is so inspiring that Martin Sheen introduces it as “a roadmap to a better future.” (See photo of New York Times front page article at the time of Garry Davis’ death in July, 2013, above.)

I have more than passing familiarity with this film, first meeting Mr. Kanegis, and learning of Garry Davis, in 2011. In 2012, I showed an early rough draft of the film to a group of high school students in St. Paul, and they loved it. In 2013, my organization, Citizens for Global Solutions MN, sponsored a private and well received preview showing to about 100 people at St. Anthony Main Theater, and Garry Davis appeared via skype in a conversation with his Minneapolis friend, Lynn Elling (photo below).

Garry Davis (on screen from Vermont via Skype), Lynn Elling, film producer Arthur Kanegis and another guest share thoughts on the pursuit of world peace at St. Anthony Main Theater on January 6, 2013.

Elling and Davis were “kin kids”, virtually the same age, both in their 90s when they died. Davis died six months after the above photo was taken, and Mr. Elling, my friend, died Feb. 14, 2016. In a sense, their lives were intertwined, impacted by direct experience of war, and motivated by a passion for peace.

Davis was about 27 when he became a World Citizen in 1948. Elling first was exposed to the World Citizenship aspect of Davis’ work in Tokyo in 1963, when Tokyo became a “World Citizenship” city. He was in his early 40s. Through his and other efforts, there were several major declarations about World Citizenship in Minnesota between 1965 and 1971. They are detailed here: Minnesota Declarations002. The signers of these documents are very interesting, as is the time of the declarations, during the Vietnam War.

Following the January 2013 video appearance in Minneapolis, Garry Davis sent me an e-mail, which included a link to the cities and other units which became “Mondialized” (World) Cities from 1950 to early 1970s. Part of this e-mail said: “In 2 years over 750,000 people registered, etc.” [the first town to be] ‘mondialized’ [was] Cahors [France]. This small southern French town (famous for its wine) actually started the “Mondialization Movement” from which the 1971 statement of “Mondialization” of the State of Minnesota derived followed by the State of Iowa on October 25, 1973. [NOTE: Minneapolis and Hennepin County MN mondialized (World Citizens) March 5, 1968.]

Colonel Robert Sarrazac, former Maquis during WWII and my principal “organization” in Paris, was the author of the first “Mondialization” declaration….”

Both Garry Davis and Lynn Elling have passed on.

I don’t know about Garry, but I know Lynn was passionate about the issue of peace and justice until his last breath.

Ours is a society which considers old people as ‘old news’. But people like Garry Davis and Lynn Elling did and do make a big difference, by building foundations, and providing an example to those of us who share their interest, and in our various ways can make a positive difference. Their stories need to be remembered and retold.

The base and the foundation were built, for us to carry on.

Other than this showing of “The World Is My Country” (which includes an eight minute “short subject” about the Minnesota Declaration in 1971), little direct evidence remains that there once was a moment when world citizenship was more than a ‘pie in the sky’ ideal. That it flowered in the rubble of WWII should remind us that war is not a game.

It is sadly ironic that I complete and send this post in the day following the latest bombing of Syria, touted as a great victory by some, and a great disaster by others. We continue in the longest war in American history, failing to learn any lessons, it would appear.

Will peace or war prevail in determining our kids and grandkids future? It’s largely up to us, and to them as well. I hope they choose peace.

See this movie, consider its message, and do what you can to have it screen in your area. And go to work.

Lynn Elling and Thor Heyerdahl, holding a copy of the Minneapolis/Hennepin County Declaration, Minneapolis MN, 1975

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