Godsil. You mentioned that your work to impeach Bush and Cheney is
part of a broader project of yours that involves the World Federalist
Association, where you worked in the late 1990s. Might you tell us
the story of how it came to pass that you came to work for the World
Federalist Association as well as what that organization is all about?
Metke. Well, my views on the world probably started back to when I was about
4 years old. One of my very first memories was seeing the photos
from the Nazi concentration camps of huge mountains of shoes and
glasses. I remember putting myself in the place of the victims and
wondering why nobody came to save them. Then, in high school I had a
terrifying dream of a nuclear explosion killing my family and as we
huddled together all I could think was “Why didn’t somebody do
In 1994 I backpacked alone around the world and encountered the
wonderful hospitality of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and
Taoists. It cemented my beliefs in the oneness of humanity.
I had long looked for a cause where my energies would be most
pivotal. In the mid-90′s, while reading the Shepherd Express, I saw
a blurb that simply said “Peace Through World Law” and a light bulb
came on. I came to the realization that the only effective way to
handle ALL the big problems of the world is through an effective,
democratic layer of global governance with checks and balances under
the watchful eye of a vigilant media and population. So I joined the
World Federalist Association, as had other notables like Albert
Einstein, Walter Cronkite, Norman Cousins, and our own Mayor Frank
The World Federalist Association started up immediately after the
horrors of World War II and was hugely popular around the world. The
principle is that countries retain most of their own sovereignty, but
band together to outlaw the global problems that nations can’t solve
alone, such as war, global warming, international corporate
corruption, AIDs, etc. There are many plans on how to do this at the
global level. The European Union is a wonderful example of how once
warring nations have learned to live peaceably in a functioning
federation. And, as we see, their currency, unhindered by endless
war spending, is skyrocketing over ours.
So how did I get involved in impeachment? My belief in the vast
benefits of properly functioning governmental institutions
necessitated my unfortunate need to address the abuses I have seen
take place in our own government lately. The genius of our
Constitution’s founders is that they imagined future abuse taking
place, so they mentioned the impeachment process SIX times so that
the Republic could be saved from those who overextend their powers.
Godsil.You backpacked alone around the world! Where did you
stay? How did you travel? Were you ever in any danger from violent
people, “official” or not, in your world travels?
Metke.Well, I wanted to get the huge travel bug out of my system so I
bought an around-the-world plane ticket for about $3,500 and traveled
for 6 months. I chose my flights ahead of time – to Australia, the
South Pacific, Indonesia, China, India and Europe, but made no
specific plans regarding hotels, etc. When I arrived in each
airport, we fellow backpackers from different countries found each
other and ventured out together, all armed with our “Lonely Planet”
guidebooks. Usually I’d take a bus, train or a car around a country,
and took 3-wheel motorcycle taxis in the cities.
Dangerous people? Actually, when people heard I was from the U.S.
they were terrified FOR ME! They often said they’d heard there were
people with guns behind every tree. Nevertheless, there were a few
“incidents”. The worst was in central India once when a young hotel
worker tried to molest me in my room. I got away unharmed, but
decided to tell the town’s police about him. They took it very
seriously, nabbed him and put him behind bars until I said to let him
go, knowing they’d now keep an eye on him.
A few other times, what I perceived to be dangerous, wasn’t. For
instance, it was always impossible to find people who spoke English
in China. One day, after trying for hours to get bus information in a
crowded square, suddenly a stern looking man in a uniform came out of
the crowd, brusquely took my hand in his gloved one, and led me into
a dark basement. I wasn’t sure if I was being arrested! Suddenly,
he took me out a back door, right up to the bus I wanted! He had
never said a word.
Another time, when my small plane landed in the Himalayas, I
accidentally hiked up a path that led high into the mountains. I
came across a goat herder who shook his head and pointed back down to
the valley, which was the correct path. He probably saved my life,
19,000 feet up and cold as it was.
One “dangerous” episode turned out to be funny. In rural Norway I
had just missed the last train of the night, so I climbed up a
mountain to sleep in the wild. I was startled awake when something
grabbed and rattled the plastic tarp I had covering my face, only to
find a puzzled St. Bernard dog looking down at me.
Overall, even though I was in the most foreign places on the planet,
I was rarely in danger and people bent over backwards to be nice.
They were very curious about me, and a smile goes a long way. Even
on the Pakistan/India border, which is deemed such a dangerous place,
young guys would give me motorcycle rides, compete for my 20 cents a
night hotel business, and even buy me coca colas, no strings
attached. Seeing how people are basically good and decent around the
world is one reason I am so adamant that we can work for a world that
works peaceably for everyone.
GODSIL: What a great story! We’re so glad you were smiled upon during those harsh moments, and that there were not any that seriously detracted from the joy of this epic quest. What were some of the “peak moments” you’d like to share you most vividly recall from this great adventure? Experiences that have been part of your consciousness” since returning. And, if any dream stories have shown up that you link to this life changing drama…? Finally, might you consider uploading some pictures to accompany this most excellent interview.
METKE: Well, though I don’t especially have any dream stories, many moments do still come to mind: Waking up on a Fiji beach, after the jet-lag of a 14-hour plane flight, to find islanders bringing me coconuts. Experiencing the laid-back, humanitarian culture of New Zealand, where “Save the Whales” was painted on houses and the wildest nightly news was the finding of someone’s pet goat. Looking out over the landscape of the northwestern Indian desert to see women wearing colorful, immaculate saris, carrying golden-colored pots on their heads with peacocks and goofy-faced camels alongside as their companions. The joyful site of herds of hopping kangaroos in the woods of Australia. The extreme loneliness and foreignness of my first day in mainland China, and the wonderful young man who took my money and came back with the train ticket he had promised to help me with. Looking down a volcano in Java from my horse.
The three beautiful young women in a remote Nepal village who presented me with a rose and said, “You are our sister.” Finding myself serendipitously alone with former President Jimmy Carter and his body guards at a composer’s hut in western Norway. The Indian who explained the religious significance of the 7 cremations we were watching on the Ganges River. Being charged at by a rhinoceros in a woods in southern Nepal. The sadness of the military cemeteries near “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” in Thailand and the D-Day beaches of Normandy, France. The poor but uncomplaining mountain folks carrying heavy baskets filled with pop bottles for tourists up steep slopes in their flip-flop sandals.
Finding ancient, rusty, live WWI grenades still out in a farmer’s field with my guide in Ypres, Belgium. Chinese villagers who would blow up bulldozers that threatened to take away their livelihoods as hammer-wielding stone crushers. My dung-walled hotel room in the Himalayas, quiet and lit by a candle flickering from the wind through the cracks – 10 cents/night. Racing my rental car through dangerous rivers crossing roads, among the crashing trees in a torrential storm/mud slide region in southern New Zealand. The 36-hour Chinese train journey where I was stared at with horror when I took contact lenses out, but where I awoke to find 4 kind men gently tucking my blanket in around me when it had fallen on the floor. I couldn’t have done it all without the help of the foreigners I encountered — especially since I don’t even speak one other language well.
Godsil.Might you offer your thoughts as to how Americans are conceived by people beyond our borders?
Metke.Well, Godsil, that’s a great question. Here’s what I’ve found from my own perceptions and study on this:
In Asia, people can identify Americans immediately, even from a group of Europeans or Canadians. They say Americans set themselves apart from even Europeans and Canadians by our gestures, postures, clothes, shoes, even smell (soap, deodorant, even a different scent from eating meat)! We are seen as friendly, energetic, fair-minded, polite and smiley. We have big gestures and lots of tonal variety in our speech. On the negative side, we are also seen as work-crazed, self-indulgent, unsophisticated, materialistic and OK with expressing anger.
We admire independence and progress and seem in a hurry because of our extreme focus on efficiency. Our highest aspiration is self-fulfillment. Neediness scares us. We have a strong sense of private space and that can lead to loneliness. We aren’t seen as being affectionately warm. Unlike other cultures, our babies sleep alone and kids are forced out of the house at a certain age. We prefer to help others in an institutional way, whereas other cultures have extended families, which puts less pressure on married couples. Our houses are huge, and many foreigners are scared by rattling around in such openness when they come to visit.
Americans have a desperation to look young, which puzzles other cultures where elders are revered. They are often turned off by much of our music and the loudmouths on sitcoms – and yes, I’ve seen “Jerry Springer”, “Dallas” and “Baywatch” sometimes from the sidewalk on which sat the one television in town!
Americans are seen as overly patriotic, and that puzzles foreigners who aren’t so nationalistic. We are also seen as more religious than they expect, though sometimes they feel we consider ourselves chosen by God and superior to others. They think we have a lack of seriousness about food, and our food isn’t very appetizing.
They believe we have lots of crime in the United States — I was often asked about all the guns and if there was “a bandit behind every tree.”
Many envy us for all the opportunities we have — how we can change our whole life if we chose. We can throw things out and start again. For instance, my British tour guide wanted to move here to travel as far as wide and as inexpensively as he could. And I envied them too — Many of them live in beautiful places. They have a slower paced, less chaotic life and though they are financially poor, they’re rich socially. Instead of sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day, they were out in nature with each other.
But there are many things I appreciate since getting back — I appreciate electricity (in many countries you get only 2 hours a night). I appreciate free, clean water, cheap food, speaking fast, people taking turns in bus lines, efficiency in the post office, and being able to read (many people on busses couldn’t read and seemed bored). I appreciate sit-down potties (in most places one squats over a trench) and a nice shower (not the scoop-the-cold-water-from-the-tub method. And to have a car, a computer, or even a bike seemed like huge luxuries out of the space age!
My own feeling is that we think we live in a free country and that we are well educated, but our network news doesn’t cover most of the world news that they get overseas, so American ignorance is often laughed at. Our media keeps us pacified with trite TV shows or celebrity gossip, and it seems to me the world is passing us by. I’d like to join it.
I believe we’ve come along far enough that the world is now ready and able to work together to create a decent standard of living for all. And what human energy will be unleashed when we have the stable, free world that so many through the ages have dreamed of and worked toward, with world constitutions, the (largely US-designed) International Criminal Court, and all manner of global governance restructurings. After all, we already have a world government – the huge transnational corporations rule life for us all. Don’t we all want a voice in how our world is run? Isn’t it time to make global governance democratic?