(Personal Milestone: This is my 25th post on this blog. Woohoo!)
Today marks the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Six years ago, a group of extremists tried to destroy us as a people and as a nation and all for the stated glory of their god. It didn’t make much sense to me then and it still doesn’t now.
Thinking about that tragedy and the war our country is still waging “on terrorism” has made me wonder if we will ever evolve to point to where we will strive for world peace instead of world domination.
You see world peace requires the cooperation of all in order to make it work. At the micro level, this is the equivalent of roommates sharing an apartment. Each person must do their part (pay their portion of the bills, clean up their mess) and be willing to give up a few things (smoking outside, no pets) in order to live together in harmony.
The dynamics of the real world, however, has two of the roommates fighting each other to the death. Some roommates are taking sides while other are trying to avoid the situation altogether and still others don’t know what the hell is going on. There is another occupant who stays in their room all day and filters contact with the outside world through a firewall and yet another who is slowly dying in their room because the others are so caught up in their own battles that they can’t be bothered to help.
At first glance, the solution seems simple enough. We need to think more about what is best for the whole of Earth and less about what benefits one person, one country or one ideology and make the appropriate contributions and sacrifices to attain that.
But a story I heard, recently, makes me wonder if we will ever be able to do that. I was afforded the opportunity to watch the movie Apocalypto which was directed by Mel Gibson. Towards the beginning of the movie an elder of a tribe tells this story:
And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, “We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.”
The Man said, “I want to have good sight.”
The vulture replied, “You shall have mine.”
The Man said, “I want to be strong.”
The jaguar said, “You shall be strong like me.”
Then the Man said, “I long to know the secrets of the earth.”
The serpent replied, “I will show them to you.”
And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left.
Then the owl said to the other animals, “Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.”
The deer said, “The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.”
But the owl replied, “No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'”
When I heard this story I felt like someone had slapped me in the face because I knew that all I had to do was turn on the television set or log onto the internet to see the truth of this. In America we are consumed with the act of consumption. It is our life and we are trying to take over the world with that ideology. Other countries are consumed with the need for control and are continuously working to subjugate the world under their dictatorship. And yet other countries are consumed with non-involvement, shunning all attempts to solicit their help even though everything that happens on Earth affects them in one way or another. It was a wake up call.
So what will it take to shake us out of our self absorption and realize that in order to build a world of peace, a world where there is no hunger and no suffering, that we must work together? Will it really take another world war? Or do aliens have to invade and take over Earth sending us packing into the vast and unfriendly universe? Or will the world actually have to be on the brink of destruction before we understand the consequences of our actions?
As you think about those that died in the September 11 attacks, I want you to think about whether this current war on terrorism will bring us closer or push us farther away from the goal of world peace. Then I want you to analyze your answer. Why do you think that way and what proof do you have to support your opinion? Then I want you to talk to other people about this question preferably those with a different opinion than yours and analyze their answers. Do their thoughts on the subject change yours or strengthen your conviction? Why?
The point of this is to exercise your critical thinking skills. As I stated before, the solution to all of the world’s problems will be found in our heads and not our hands. Therefore when it comes to bringing the dream of world peace to fruition, it will be the strength of our minds that makes it happen, not the strength of our weapons.