Sunday, September 20, 2015

Battling the Fear, It Is Everybody's Job

Recently a young man, a high school student, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. School officials were worried that it was a bomb. Fear produces strong reactions. People are afraid. Violence is everywhere, and humanity has been pushed to the brink of the precipice.

It is not the first time, either. History is riddled with scenes of unimaginable carnage, and boundless violence. Of course, there were times of peace and tranquility, but sooner or later somebody decided reality was unfair, reshuffled the deck and consumed the world in a storm of hate and greed.

It is a popular to think there have been two world wars, world war is a current event. But, if a world war is defined as involving most of the major powers history is filled with conflicts that would qualify. From the Assyrian domination of the Middle East, the Punic Wars, the Mongol invasions of almost everywhere, to the wars that tore through Europe for most of the middle ages.

Right now, depending on the qualifications there are roughly 25 wars being fought around the world. Many more, depending on the broadness of the categorization. Many of these, because of the fervor, and propaganda, could escalate quickly, spreading to neighboring countries. Once the fire starts it will be difficult to extinguish. It has always been that way.

Trautman; Destruction of Jerusalem via Wikimedia Commons
War, and battle rages until exhaustion, nothing short of absolute victory is acceptable. Here is an account of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem;

"The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination."*

What happened to the millions in Jerusalem was not unique. It was just one in a string of cities torn to the ground, inhabitants slaughtered, or sold into slavery, it was the fate that waited for every city.

What is drastically different is the weaponry. Science has taken society across a terrifying threshold. It is likely mankind has the ability to destroy most of the people living today. Science is not evil, it is a servant performing the bidding of its masters. Science is not the source of destruction, it is the vehicle.

And it was fear that pushed the pursuit of such fantastic weapons. But, why? People in all corners of the world, in almost any belief, sprang from the same source. Yet, our fear creates loathing. Political leaders extort, and pollute the differences, until the differences are all anybody sees.

It is, almost always, the political leader that exploits the fears most successfully that is elected, or seizes power, or in one way or another assumes control. And once there the best way to stay is to keep the fear real, front and center.

Is there any way to correct the course, or is there no reason for hope? That is up to us, and it won’t be easy. Every action has to be an effort to alter the course of history. And, it will almost have to happen everywhere, so it is not very likely.

*Milman, The History of the Jews. Book 16