I’m haunted by the future that should have been.
A century ago, the scientific mindset predicted an age of prosperity and peace.
Then a bullet for Archduke Ferdinand sent Europe into mass insanity and the injustices inherent in the closing chapters kept our course set for another global-bulleted bashment.
While American isolationism still reigned, FDR, elaborating on our fundamental freedoms, suggested a fourth freedom topping off our freedom of speech, freedom of or from religion, and freedom from want: the freedom from fear.
In his inaugural address in 1941, he announced:
The fourth freedom is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction in armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.
There was a lot of talk about disarmament in the 20th Century, of which you don’t hear a squeak anymore. Starting with conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan (two 21st Century American creations) how many homemade weapons have been turned back on us the world over?
Still another opportunity for disarmament talk arose when the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight. And rather than put peace at the helm, we Americans chose to pursue “unipolarity” after the close of the Cold War, our Third World War of the 20th Century.
That is: We decided the world must be governed by us. That was the doctrine Bush has continued with a vengeance. And you and I have allowed it to continue.
Writes Conn Hallinen in Foreign Policy in Focus:
One of the more interesting phenomena to emerge from the U.S. debacle in Iraq is the demise of the unipolar world that rose from the ashes of the Cold War. A short decade ago the United States was the most powerful political, economic, and military force on the planet. Today its army is straining under the weight of an unpopular occupation, its economy is careening toward recession, and the only “allies” we can absolutely depend on in the United Nations are Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands.
I got to thinking about war, the large and little, and our shaky interpersonal relationships while reading “Between Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond,” a collection of writings and perspectives. I was particularly moved, romantic that I am, by that offering by John Lilly titled “Toward a Cetacean Nation.”
I’ll spare you all the brain biology and behavioral studies that suggest that when it comes to dolphins and whales, we may be dealing with partners of very near equal (or possibly greater) intelligence – the brilliant stories of lives changed and heart-moving accounts of the events that occur at this interspecial intersection.
But if dolphins are so smart, Lilly found himself asked again and again, why aren’t they ruling the world.
The question can be easily turned around. Why does man or individual men want to rule the world? I feel that it is a very insecure position to want to rule all the other species and the vast resources of our planet. This means a deep insecurity with the “universes” inside of oneself.
The desire to “rule the world” is really externalized helplessness when faced with one’s emotional landscape. We feel incapable internally, so we attempt to exert ourselves externally. True world-ruling is when one can “rule one’s inner realities,” Lilly writes.
How easily the winds of emotions sweep over our kind and we come to behave, we hear from outsiders, “like animals.” How shaken we are by the desires that creep over us, the fears that tangle us, the anger that slips out of the faintest crevace to smother us.
Ah, what it is to be human!
Perhaps others, Lilly is suggesting, have already mastered this seemingly impenetrable universe.
If humans survive the coming 100, if we are able to “slip the noose” of our governing failures as the “master race” as our engineered climate chaos bears down on this planet, perhaps we will have time to learn what the whales know: Creatures with brains many, many times the mass of our own and an evolutionary history predating us by eons.
To think, we may have a chance to grow up after all…
Of course, it will take monumental effort to tip the political realities toward peacemaking as policy. So let Al advise us on the way forward on energy, but get that Department of Peace built!
I’m a nut for early book illustrations, particularly of textbooks and natural history. The one above is from the Oxford Book Company’s “Visualized World History” by Phillip Dorf. Unfortunately, the artist is not credited.
For more gab on who’s smarter.