Friday, August 11, 2006

An Unsafe World

August 11

The anticlimactic resolution to the attempt at another mass murder of innocent victims who happened to be headed to the United States by airplane reminds us what an unsafe world we live in.

In my lifetime there have been few respites from this feeling. When I was a young child we were embroiled in a full-scale war, and our daddies were all missing from our lives while they fought it. Planes were a threat, and periodically the grown-ups turned out the lights, hung blankets over the windows, and we all hid under the furniture for maybe an hour or so, hoping the blackout would keep us out of harm's way.

When that particular war was over, there was an uneasy peace known as The Cold War, in which we were certain that the Russians, governed by madmen, were going to attack our country at any time. Then in 1950 came the Korean War, which we didn't understand, followed by a period of prosperity and the overarching feeling that we really were in some kind of war with Russia. School children were drilled in how to hide when a bomb was dropped -- get under the desk, that'll save you -- and people built fallout shelters and equipped them with food to last for a year. That gave them a feeling of security...or did it?

Russia designed a workable rocket that was named Sputnik. This proved to us their superiority in math and science, and changed the emphasis and curriculum in American schools for generations. We put our efforts in a space program that outshone their wildest dreams, and held back true education (learning for its own sake) in favor of creating an image of technological prowess and pressuring children to be more and more like miniature adults -- terrified and competition-driven rather than curious, open and creative.

A friend recently asked me to address the subject of the "beehive" of mankind, the order of life, suggesting the inevitable progress we are making (sometimes in spite of ourselves) in improving the human race and its contribution to the planet. I'm sorry that I just don't see it that way. Looking at the larger picture, it seems to me that ancient Greece and Rome were probably more civilized, even deprived as they were of technology. Certainly the planet itself was better off before our superior technological advances provided the means to blow it up at any time, and the erosion of the ozone layer warmed us to the point of melting our magnificent snowcapped peaks.

Mankind has not used his gifts for much more than the destruction of his own past and the earth itself as he went along. War is still the greatest game in the world. We wonder why our leaders have plunged headlong into battle after battle, picking up old wars and using our sons to give their lives in opening old wounds with other nations. Can we not see the obvious – it is because we enjoy it? It is because that feeling of insecurity is a spur to a world of people weaned on competition, anger, hatred and bigotry. We are a busy little beehive indeed, flying about in circles, creating much more than honey. And much less.

We call it progress, we call it growth, but Marietta Johnson and a few other saintly folks like her called it arrested development, and abhored our celebration of it. Spiritual leaders emerge in every age, and we ignore them quite efficiently while we follow the warmongers over the brink to the destruction of civility and wisdom, maybe forever.

In the meantime, I think I'll avoid transatlantic air travel for a while.


Bert Bananas said...

"Jihad" is all about spirituality, Fair Hope. Once the Jihad is completed by the spiritual horde needed to carry it out, Free Agency will be ended and humankind will be slavishly at peace. - - big sigh - -

To be a tad more serious, what boggles my mind is that all the "lttle people" who make war possible never figure out that they would have been happier staying home.

John said...

Reminded me of a joke from a routine I used to do on the “Brooklyn” view of getting under the desk. “My Third grade teacher would slam the ruler on the desk and announce “Alright children, this is an Air Raid!… get under your desk!…. put your heads to the wardrobe!… your rear ends to the window!…because if their gonng to Nuke us!.. we’re going to moon them!

Six years later, during the Cuban missle crises, maybe because we were getting to big, which highlighted the obivious flaws of our desks as nuclear defense shields or maybe because the authorities now desired to teach us to accept our fate without protest, we were moved to the darkend hall to sit with our backs to the wall, and patiently, without talking, await our end. It was here in the darkened hallway I turned to my best friend and commented “I can’t believe these f*#king morons are going to vaporize our asses to prove a point in economics.” It never occurred to the school authorities that maybe we would rather be on the roof to personally witness, if only for an instant, this final politics, as phyics, as economics lesson in life.

Such were the good old “Nuclear Family” days of “Dr. Stangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb”, “Fail Safe”, “On the Beach”, “Godzilla”, “Them”, “The Amazing Colossal Man” followed by the “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman” and of course “The Beginning of the End”. Well the end never came and civilization has moved us forward to now just worrying about someone possibly getting a bomb, sometime in a future without giant ants.

What is interesting to me is what triggered you to write a blog on the decline of civilization. It's true the British have uncovered a “future” plot, by 21 misguided indivuals, to blow-up only 10 of the 7- 800 airplanes full of innocent western tourists that cross the Atlantic every day. (In the European press the actual timing of the arrests and level of the threat is still under question). Whereas, for the past 30 days, real, american made bombs and missiles, with american approval, have been reigning terror down on the innocent men women and children of Lebanon in an attempt to bomb an existing civilization literally back into the stone-age, triggered nothing from you.

The truth is the progress of civilization and civil society is not under threat from eithier of these two events or global warming or anything else. For the last fifty thousand years the steady progress toward a more civilized world has been steady and progressive. We live in a world of 6.5 billion people, the vast majority of which are working very hard to get along. Whether or not america or the west survives is irrelevant to the final outcome, a humanity and a civil society will develop, continue to survive and progress, it the fundemental defining characteristic of being human to do so.

After all we are still here. The Organic school after a hundred years is still here: It is now changing its focus to "A School for the Global Community" and with that civilzation will take another genuine step forward. We can all honestly find a Fairhope in that.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, as one thoroughly corrupt old American politician used to say repeatedly, it's not because of the supposed threat of bomb-creation-through-gatorade attack that I have seen the end of human life on the planet. In fact, I think I made it clear that this is just one more time that "they" are pushing holes in our comfort zone of home and family in my short 66-year life span. I like your take on it, John, that in spite of the U.S. attempt to annihilate the orderliness of the world, the rest of the world is making progress toward enlightenment. I have another friend who lives in a different country who holds the same view. My sister plans to move, and my daughter talks about it all the time, and probably would have taken her two little boys to Canada years ago had the climate been more to her liking. For all my discomfort about certain aspects of living in Switzerland, I must admit that I never had any fears they were out to assert their authority by blowing anybody up.

But that my own country is the aggressor, is warlike and ruthless, is not a new revelation to me. The anger and fear of it has always been there in my lifetime. There has been a great deal of effort expended in rationalizing this tendency, and the weird part of it is how well that has worked among the populace. Maybe its because the internal public relations (aaargh!) was managed so well.

Benedict S. said...

Maybe, Miss Finding, the desire to blow things up relates, in a crazy kind of way, to the same desire for recognition that led some of the single-taxers to add touches of oppulence to their homes. What a rush some of us must get from realizing we're "the world's only superpower." Could it be that conspicuous consumption is being replaced by conspicuous destruction?

Finding Fair Hope said...

So maybe, in the name of world peace, I should avoid having the house painted? I never thought of that.

Benedict S. said...


Finding Fair Hope said...

This concept will save me a bundle! But I was having so much fun thinking about it. Oh, well, thinking doesn't cost anything, and now I have something else to think about.

Benedict S. said...

Pleased to have been of service ma'am. You now face the problem of what to do with all the money you've saved. Maybe you should paint the house.