HOW TO AVOID ARMAGEDDON – 1

February 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

Humanity has never had it so

good and yet …

By RALPH DOBRIN

Excerpt from “How to Avoid Armageddon,” published by Old Line Publishing.

At the moment it seems that humanity has never had it so good. For the first time in history, over half the people on earth have running water in their homes. Over a third have flush toilets. In many countries all over the world the average person enjoys infinitely more luxury than the greatest kings a few generations ago. At the touch of a button, whenever we desire, we have immediate access to the finest musical or acting performances, which in the past only nobility could have enjoyed on very rare occasions. Our homes are infinitely more comfortable than the grandest palaces of yesteryear. The average person is well heated during winter and can travel to distant lands undreamed of by the most powerful monarchs a mere hundred years ago. We have instant electronic contact with people anywhere, while at the click on our computer keyboards, we can have just about any item we desire delivered to our doorsteps, including fresh food or pre-cooked gourmet meals from a thousand different sources.

But ironically, this elevated lifestyle, enabled by the modern methods of food production and the intense utilization of natural resources, has brought serious global pollution and climate change, which are raising serious questions about the future of our planet. Also, factors such as the rapid population growth in the poorer countries of the world, coinciding with witheringly low birthrates in the developed countries, and coupled with the reign of dozens of despotic regimes, many of whom promote militant religious or nationalistic doctrines, present additional alarming quandaries.

Clearly, the most pressing need for humanity today is adequate leadership. It is true that we have come a long way over the ages, from the days when human existence was largely a case of brutally enforced serfdom imposed by small groups of landowners and aristocracy. Most of humanity everywhere used to live under conditions of grinding poverty and helplessness against the whim of the regional chieftain, duke, archbishop or king and their henchmen. Empires butchering their exploitive will throughout the world, compounded the misery by stirring up ever more wars against indigenous peoples and between competing world powers. Such awful paradigms are a thing of the past in a large part of the world – mainly due to the spread of democracy.

But leadership used to be a far simpler affair than today. Populations were much smaller. Leaders didn’t need to consider laws, media ratings or elections, the way they do today. There was no such thing as coalition politics; neither was there any widely publicized criticism against government policies or leaders and politicians on television, newspapers and blogsites. And they didn’t have to consider bothersome matters such as protection of the environment, energy sources or political correctness.

While the presidents and premiers of the world’s main democracies still carry a great deal of influence and political clout in their own countries, they don’t have a free hand like the leaders of bygone ages. For better or for worse they are constrained by their countries’ constitutionary laws.

In the bygone days of empires, a king, sultan or emperor could make decisions that would be imposed on subject people all over the world. Often the decisions were utterly self-serving, capricious and damnably stupid. Millions of people could be affected by the folly of one overbearing, intellectually mediocre regent and his subservient adjutants.

Gratifyingly, the age of empires is over. Yet, a semblance of world government does exist in the form of The United Nations Organization, established after the Second World War in order to maintain international peace and promote global cooperation in solving economic, social and humanitarian problems. It was a lofty ideal and the United Nations Organization does immense good in many fields, such as health, education, agriculture, environmental issues, and financing of large scale projects in many parts of the world. But as a force for fostering peace, it has proved to be quite the opposite.

There are many reasons why peaceful co-existence among all the nations of the world is still dangerously elusive. There are scores of long-lasting border disputes. While many remain dormant, there are those that flare up from time to time. Other points of friction include disagreement over ideology, religion or water rights. In many parts of the world tribal or clan affiliations still arouse deep emotions that lead to military conflict. Economic considerations often precipitate conflict. But gratifyingly, unlike in the past, disagreement between countries or political and religious entities doesn’t always automatically lead to open warfare, because the devastating consequences of conflict using modern firepower is profoundly sobering. Nowadays, pragmatism and calm diplomacy usually prevail instead.

But now, three generations after the first atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the development of nuclear weapons and the means of launching them, by totalitarian states such as North Korea and Iran, are pushing the world into a new era of precariousness. Furthermore, militant Islam, of which Iran is an integral part, seems to have absolutely no qualms about the devastating effects of modern weaponry, as evinced by the constant, bold, armed conflict being waged by militant jihadic organizations against the “infidel” and even against other Muslims with different loyalties. In addition to all this, global pollution, climatic changes and other forms of environmental devastation, have already reached alarming proportions, that if unchecked, will lead to even more catastrophic tempests, floods, heatwaves, droughts and famines, threatening the existence of whole societies.

It is clear that only wise global and local leadership will be able to deal adequately with the pressing existential challenges that we all face. As simplistic as this might sound, the key to wise leadership is truthfulness. For such a quality to prevail, it must be backed by the rank and file of society, and will need to be assiduously practiced in every nation if humanity is to cope satisfactorily with present and future challenges.

Every society in the world claims to consider honesty a paramount virtue. Yet there isn’t a government in the world where truthfulness is scrupulously practiced. In totalitarian states regimes retain their control through deviousness and false propaganda, usually accompanied by threats of dire punishment if compromising facts are revealed about the rulers and the actual state of affairs.

In the most enlightened democracies, the constraints of finance and politics tend to diminish any high levels of integrity on the part of politicians and government officials. Most decisions are based on immediate and partisan considerations, and are not necessarily intended for the good of society in general or effective solutions in the long run. While most leaders and politicians in democratic countries shy away from telling outright lies, many employ half-truths on a permanent basis. And with half-truth, as the saying goes, one can’t know which half one is left with – the actual truth or the other half.

For most of their existence as a people, the Jews – as the Children of Israel in ancient times and throughout history till the present day – have contended with ethics as an integral part of their culture. Yet few, if any other nations have faced calumny and accusations of being unethical and immoral, like the Jewish people have. Wherever they have dwelt there have been people who found it expedient to accuse the Jews of dishonesty, cowardice, fraud, theft, treachery, deicide, spreading epidemics and often blamed them for national misfortunes and calamities.

While there have always been cowards, swindlers and traitors among the Jews – exactly like among all other peoples – the collective epithets have usually been exaggerated generalizations and even flagrant falsehoods. Often they have been employed to further a cause. Aristocracy and the Church throughout Europe over the ages diverted attention from their own misdemeanors and faults to the “Chosen People.” Adolf Hitler used racial prejudice to gain the support of the German people, eager for reasons to explain their national misfortunes at that time, subsequently plunging the world into unprecedented devastation and causing the destruction of Germany and the rest of Europe.

This brings us to the intractable Arab-Israel conflict and the many vital lessons in human relationships that can be gained from it. The course of the conflict may very likely have a very significant bearing on the future. The central question is: to what extent has truthfulness been employed by the parties involved and the rest of the world? The answer will determine what kind of future is in store for humanity as a whole.

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Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, In order to survive, Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

No more lies – part 2 HOW TO AVOID ARMAGEDDON – 2

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