What's All This Then?

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In most science fiction stories, far away planets are inhabited by a single race of people, all speaking the same language - and more often than not, ruled by a wise council of elders. Not all of course. There are stories about planets that in some ways mirror the divisions of our earth - but for the most part, science fiction writers think in logical terms and visualize the inhabitants of a planet as I’ve described it. For sure they all speak English - or one of Earth’s languages. It depends in which country the stories are being read or where re-runs of one of the Star Trek series is being televised.

We of course are unlike those fictional planets - and nothing could emphasize that condition more than the news from London about the discovery of a plot to blow up a slew of planes en route from that city to the United States. Kudos to Scotland Yard for their work in cracking the case, to Pakistan for whatever help they provided and whoever first called attention to "strange behavior" of some of the plotters. Let’s hope future such plots, which I’m sure are being hatched as I type, will be similarly uncovered before they result in horrendous loss of life.

Yesterday, I wrote about people trying to use this particular piece of news for political advantage - which contributes absolutely nothing to our need to be more vigilant in protecting ourselves against the crazed actions of crazed individuals. Today, my thoughts are on something more philosophical and far more important.

As with previous events of this nature, the same questions are being asked. Who are these crazies? ? Why do they hate us so much - so much that they’re willing to die in the act of killing a bunch of us? There are answers all over the place - and I guess you can take your pick. President Bush says that they are Islamofascists - even though in this case, most were British born citizens who seemingly led ordinary lives - most of them young and some only recent converts to Islam. But in a lead editorial, on August 11, 2006, the Chicago Tribune’s response to the that question was "what difference does it make?"

Maybe they’re right, terrorists are terrorists - but the question underlying all the who’s and why’s is of course - what can we do about it? When will it ever end? Will we have to go to war with the Moslem world ? Will the Moslem nations go to war against us? Would the outcome of such wars solve the problem of living in a world dominated by fear of terrorism?

I don’t know the answers to those questions - but as for the last one, I have to say that I don’t think so. I think the problem is one that cannot be solved by and in the world as we know it. The problem - the ultimate problem as I see it, is that we are not like one of those fictional worlds of science fiction - more or less one people with one language, one set of ethics, one set of laws, one understanding of right and wrong. We are the mirror image of the people of Genesis who built the Tower of Babel - scattered across the face of the earth and made unable to understand each other’s languages.

Not only language of course, but culture, history and that bugaboo of mankind - religion. It’s as though we are the products of many planets - thrown together on this earth of ours to make do as best we can. And so far, our "best" is about as far from being good enough as it can possibly be. We are like gangs of inmates in a mad house - each in different sections with its own rules and its own gang leaders. On June 20, 2006, I speculated, only half in jest, that indeed our origins could be traced to an original colony of insane humanoids, dumped here by superior being from far off planets eons ago.

So what is the answer to our dilemma? Of all possible solutions, the one that makes the most sense is to have this world move in the direction of those fictional worlds of outer space. To become more alike than un-alike. To have our similarities far outweigh our differences. To have some kind of world order. World Government. World courts. Sharing of the world’s assets. In this country, the thought of "world order" is anathema - particularly to those to the right of the political spectrum. But as long as we remain a world of more than 190 nations with different kinds of governments, speaking more than 30 languages and practicing more than 30 religions, our differences will continue to be the basic source of conflict that creates the madmen who are the purveyors of terror.

The kind of changes that need to happen are not going to happen in my lifetime - or that of my grandchildren - and who knows - we may blow ourselves to smithereens before we ever reach sufficient maturity to be a world of peace and equality. What may happen in my lifetime and that of my grandchildren, is what Newt Gingrich and others say is already here - World War Three. It will solve nothing - but there are leaders of some of the world’s nations who do not believe it can be avoided and it is likely to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Sorry to sound so pessimistic about the future of mankind to anyone reading these words. If you can convince me that I’m wrong, I’d be more than happy to hear from you - while I’m still here.

9.20 a.m. August 16, 2006 - no matter what date and time you read below…

I forgot to conclude my comments above with this little audio-video gem- totally relevant to the subject matter.