Immortality of Man and State?

Immortality Defined

In an attempt to not fall on deaf ears, I will portray the concept of immortality in a way that both religious and irreligious can participate in the discussion. Immortality as a concept is simply to live forever. The religious mind will imagine an immortal life after resurrection, following the pattern of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The irreligious will imagine the scientific method breaking the threshold of death, keeping the body of man strong by figuring out how to break the pattern of shortening telomeres or some other key or combinations of keys. The imagination can lead us to comprehend living forever, but what does it mean for the state?

Man is Immortal . . . The State Has No Immortality

We can turn our minds back to the time when religious elite were leaders of the state. Cardinal Richelieu, one such leader, as the Minister of State under King Louis XIII famously said, which was well portrayed in Henry Kissinger’s World Order, “Man is immortal, his salvation is hereafter. The state has no immortality, its salvation is now or never”1.In other words, Richelieu was speaking as a statesman and indicated in these words no hope for long-term peace. The Peace of Westphalia, based on principles of sovereignty and balance-of-powers, was established shortly after the death of Richelieu. These principles build much of the foundation of international law and order established over the last 350 years.

I find it quite ironic that throughout the last four centuries, sovereignty has been an active de jure principle in state-affairs, and yet, state actions and agendas have precluded sovereignty from their “vassal” states (i.e., debt mongering, colonization). Perhaps, if states are going to act as though they have immortality, they should treat other states as though they are also immortal.

The statement from Richelieu is a troubling one. Either man is immortal and the state as well, or on the other hand, neither man nor the state is immortal. How can man be immortal, whereas the state not? Do we not look at the duration of our posterity to each future generation as the reality of our continued immortal existence? Can South Sudan say to Sudan, “I have no progenitor, nor will I influence any country after me.”

Immortality of Actions

The influence of each man and each state is real, and therefore, personal affairs and international affairs need to be dealt with tenderly. Each action, policy, or press release has ricochet effects lasting forever. By continuing with the mindset that the state has no immortality, peace will wane, and man will suffer by the misdirection of nations. When throngs gather to direct the affairs of the future international order, and it is guided by principles of immortality of man and state; that order will bring great peace for the inhabitants of the earth.

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