Liar, Liar; Planet on Fire —
Conflict and Quiescence
In these troubled days, it seems that our favorite old work shirt we call Peace is in tatters and beyond reach. In the past, we wore our comfortable, old
Peace shirt to enjoy satisfying days in the garden, nurturing life and productivity in the warmth of an afternoon sun. Now, with a world beset by global terrorism, our beloved Peace shirt has been
relegated to a dark corner of our closet. Worse yet, the further we reach into our closet for it, the further it seems to slide away from us. Frustrated and worried, we search for
satisfying words to explain our dilemma, but our efforts fail us. We don't fail because we are wrong, but rather, because the universe has turned our
closet into a paradigm-shift-teaching classroom, and the lesson is simple. If we want to wear our old Peace shirt again, we need to evolve beyond our
present day human-centric terms like "war and peace" towards a more enlightened understanding of two universal absolutes: Conflict and quiescence.
Human-centric and Universal Paradigms
In simple human terms, a paradigm can be seen as the rose-tinted glasses we wear to help us perceive the world around us — in essence, they shade our perceptions.
So what happens if we exchange our rose-tinted glasses for modern day polarized lenses that filter out glare and UV light for a truly clear picture of
the world around us? In essence, you could say that we've experienced a paradigm shift.
The American Heritage Dictionary
A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices
that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
Comparing the two paradigms is simple. The human-centric paradigm helps us to understand the universe about us, in terms of how it affects us.
On the other hand, the universal paradigm teaches us to understand the universe about us in terms of our role within it.
Another way to understand the different between human-centric and universal paradigms is to assign a value of "1" to the age of the universe to represent the universal paradigm.
Next, let's assign a comparative value of 0.00000000000084 to the human-centric paradigm, which encompasses the whole of the human experience. What we see in terms of time is that our human-centric
paradigm is roughly a trillionth of that of the universal reality.
This leaves us with a simple question: Is our flawed and unworkable human-centric paradigm the best the universe has to offer, or has it merely been a stepping stone in mankind's relentless march towards acceptance
of the tried-and-true universal paradigm? The answer to this question is critical, because herein lies the root of the present day dilemma of global
terrorism, and the search must begin with an honest look at the word "fear."
Fear and the Human-centric Paradigm
It was Henry David Thoreau who first said, "Nothing is so much to be feared as fear." Later, President Franklin D Roosevelt adapted that pithy
statement for his inaugural address when he said, "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear, itself."
Fear is a powerful human phenomenon. In ancient times, the fear of the unexplained expressed itself in the most primitive form. When the crops
failed or a natural disaster such as a flood or an earthquake struck, our early ancestors dealt with their fear of the unexplained with a human sacrifice. For example:
"As your mighty chief I say that we have suffered
because our great god the Flabboz is angry with us. Quick, somebody fetch a pretty young virgin and meet me at the sacrificial altar, and we'll set things straight."
Regrettably, this practice often rewarded the tribe or nation with a return to a sense of normalcy to the great relief of the masses, despite the pain suffered by the virgins and their families.
Did human sacrifice really work to "make things right" again? No. Rather, it was the basic nature of the universe where short periods of intense conflict
and catastrophe are separated by long periods of quiescence. Consequently, the ritual of sacrificing virgins only played to the basic nature of the universe.
It was not until mankind progressed enough to understand natural forces that we began to realize that the needless sacrifice of human life to appease a god was truly an unproductive and fruitless shedding of
This is because we learned that weather comes in
cycles, and, to avoid droughts we need to build reservoirs and irrigation systems. Likewise, we learned that floods also come in cycles, and we learned to move our homes and farms to higher
ground and to build levies.
The point here is that we overcame our fear of the angry acts of vengeful gods by understanding the world about us and by relying on our inventiveness to engineer solutions that would help us to
prevent or mitigate natural disasters. We call this progress.
Yet, fear still remains to this day, and it, in its most virulent form, represents the fear of change. Over time, those civilizations that abandoned their fear
of vengeful gods in favor of progress have prospered. Those who cling to the past and fear change only became part of the past they so adamantly cherished.
Applying Fear to the Present
Since 9-11, we have openly asked ourselves time-and-again, "What did we do wrong?" While soul searching is generally a good and productive thing,
when it comes at the expense of an equally important question it serves no good at all. Ergo, we need to ask, "What did we do wrong, and what did we do right?"
In this regard, many of those in Western Civilization who support and oppose the war on terror have made the same error. The focus has always been on:
What did we do wrong?
- Against the War on Terror: We've done plenty of wrong. Look at how we've interfered with politics in South America for example. No more war. "Not in my name!"
- For the War on Terror: Whatever the Islamists think we've done wrong, it doesn't justify their global campaign of terror. The fact is,
we are presently faced with an imminent threat and whatever we can do to defend ourselves is justified.
What both sides of the issue (for and against) are doing wrong, is that their reasoning is as hopelessly outdated and pointless as the sacrifice of
virgins to appease vengeful gods.
In essence, this is the crux of the problem with the
Islamists. They are afraid; no, terrified of change. Consequently, it is not their malevolence we must suffer but the violent expression of their fear of the future. Yet, is this whole conflict about
them? No, it is more about us and our need to ask the question, "what have we done right?"
When we view what we've done right as objectively as what we've done wrong, the whole perspective changes. For example:
What did we do right?
- Against the War on Terror: People have died in bloody wars for my right to express my abhorrence of war without being murdered, imprisoned or committed for my publicly stated views. Therefore, to
perpetuate war, is to betray their sacrifice. To avoid war is to honor their sacrifice.
- For the War on Terror: In WWI, we thought we were "making the world safe for democracy," and allowed the seeds of WWII to be sown with the Treaty of Versailles. We learned from that mistake,
and following WWII, we won the peace by rebuilding Japan and Germany into great industrial democracies and good partners for peace. Again, we're doing the same in Afghanistan and will likewise
do so in Iraq (if there is anything left to democratize.)
By balancing our view of the situation with, "What did we do wrong and what did we do right," the whole situation takes on a different tone and
measure. Likewise, we also see that both positions are equally valid in that, if we are to evolve into a more compassionate race, we must accept
the realities of the present and face the dreaded task ahead.
Likewise, we must also work towards the day when all the people on the Earth say to war, "not in my name." Only with an honest and balanced
universal paradigm such as this, can we hope to evolve spiritually and politically towards the thousand years of peace promised us by both secular and religious prophecy.
So, what is this universal paradigm based upon? It's certainly not based upon the failed human-centric concepts of war and peace. Rather, it is
based upon the universal absolutes of conflict and quiescence.
Understanding Conflict and Quiescence
The most profound difference between the concepts of "war and peace" and "conflict and quiescence" is that, for all of recorded time, man has
alternately tried to avoid both war and peace with little lasting success either way. Yet, conflict and quiescence keep happening with certain regularity, and neither is avoidable.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
A striking or dashing together; violent collision; as, a conflict of elements or waves.
WordNet, Princeton University
A state of quiet (but possibly temporary) inaction.
Consider this. The next time you draw a glass of
water, know that you're drinking comet juice, in a manner of speaking. While a comet impact upon the Earth today would be conflict of catastrophic proportions, the fact remains that we largely owe
our deep blue seas, flowing rivers and idyllic fresh water lakes to comet impacts that occurred when our planet was in its infancy.
Further, scientists tell us that if we travel back into deep time, what we see is that comets and asteroids do not strike the
Earth according to a type of insurance company risk schedule where x number of impacts happen every x number of years on a Darwinian scale.
Rather, impact events tend to happen in brief moments of time, followed by long periods of quiescence.
When you frame this in the modern context, you see conflict-aware Near Earth Object (NEO) astronomers and researchers worldwide clamoring for
better funding of projects from quiescence-lulled politicians who make promises and often fail to deliver.
In a nutshell, the astronomers see the universal pattern of short periods of conflict followed by long periods of quiescence. (They really do get it!) Yet,
the politicians who must fund this urgently necessary work look at it from a human-centric viewpoint. Consequently, they measure the threat of an
impact event with cost per life lost calculations that seem pointless, because, after all, things are quiet now so why worry?
The result is frustration and the astronomers have turned up the rhetoric, which is a good thing if you agree with the words of renowned science
fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, "I am not averse to generating a little alarm. For the case of impacts upon the Earth, a little alarm is what is needed."
Now, let's apply the same framework to our present
day situation with Iraq. While public debate is heated, there seems to be disagreement that Saddam Hussein is an evil man with evil intentions and bent on possessing weapons of mass
destruction. This is generally a given in most any debate. However, the rub comes with the issue of quiescence.
Since Saddam has not attacked any other regional neighbor since the days of Desert Storm, the probability that he will become another "impact
event," if you will, is statistically remote and therefore not worthy of going to war.
So who is being naïve? Those who see the inevitability of conflict with Saddam no differently than the inevitable fact that, someday, a comet or an
asteroid will collide with the planet, causing death and destruction. Or, those who only see a present day state of quiescence and who refuse to
believe that conflict is inevitable because of their eternal hope for peace.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
To desire with expectation or with belief in the possibility or prospect of obtaining; to look forward to as a thing desirable, with the expectation of obtaining it; to cherish hopes of.
The American Heritage Dictionary
The absence of war or other hostilities.
But why should either party be naïve? More to the point, shouldn't those who feel the need to deal with the inevitability of conflict likewise believe
that quiescence is likewise inevitable? Likewise, shouldn't those who hope for the relative peace of quiescence also understand that conflict is a universal absolute, no matter how much fear it engenders?
If both questions seem reasonable, then perhaps mankind is truly at the threshold of a paradigm shift that will give us the spiritual strength to
embark upon the thousand years of peace promised us in prophecy.