A number of people had high hopes and dreams as the old millennium was ending and the dawn of the next thousand years was beginning in 2001. The last millennium was filled with untold misery and war.
The blight of the Dark Ages and the world wars still scarred the European and Asian psyche and landscape. War—a condition of the human species, an illogical approach to life, a something that robbed women and children of their innocence—was a sad reality which continued as a plague of memories and fears. Innocence lost is difficult to recapture on this planet traversing the cosmos.
During the cold war many went to bed at night wondering if they would awake to a dawn of peace or perish during the night. Many had fears which they hid from their children that one tragic day the world would end in a mushroom cloud of horror. Those days came to an end.
At last many thought the world had evolved to where reason and sanity would prevail. The superpowers have learned to exist together and to be friendly. Of course, there were those minor countries where dictators still bore sway, but they posed no threat; well, no real threat.
Their hopes and dreams could now be realized. A new golden age was beginning.
However, since a quiet morning in September, the world has been on edge, with good reason. New words were introduced into our vocabulary—the Towers, Flight 93, Al-Qaeda, WMD’s, Guantánamo Bay, etc.
Unfortunately, the high hopes and dreams of the new millennium were dashed to the frozen earth and broken by the impact. The broken pieces could not be melded together again by all the president’s men or the UN Security Council. The world became more precarious now than during the cold war.
Diplomacy took a back seat to personal decisions. Reason was not consulted. Had to act and had to act fast was the response. The danger grew.
Now, the realities that plagued the children of the cold war affect their children. Safety has become an elusive object. Perhaps, even sanity itself has become a byproduct of the previous generation.
Every day brings new reports of how the world is eroding into an oblivion from which no life may escape untouched by the horrors of the spiraling cycle of violence and potential Armageddon. War once again rears its ugly face of horror that no Halloween mask can equal.
There has not been a horror novel or movie made that can surpass the psychological and physical atrocities which war brings to a nation, especially to its young. To live in constant fear of death is a burden that no child should have to bear in this life. Of course, there are worse things than death for a child. There are unspeakable horrors which befall women and children daily on this wasted planet lost in its own solar system—Darfur is a commentary on so-called civilized humans who engage in this tragedy as well as those countless hundreds of millions who do nothing.
Like characters in Rebecca Harding Davis’ short story LIFE IN THE IRON-MILLS, life for many on this planet resembles those wretched souls who labored and died in the iron mills—the mills of fear, want, desire, war, and hunger. A cold bowl of soup and an aging crust of bread would be a welcome treat for many lost souls in this millennium of high hopes and dreams. However, there is another hunger beside the physical—the hunger of the spirit.
One cannot point a finger and say there is the reason. No, the reasons are complex, and the guilty are many.
Human nature has been debated for centuries. Humans are the only species that will kill itself for momentary gain or revenge. The animal kingdom kills to survive. The human kingdom murders to justify its existence.
Perhaps, the myth of being expelled from a garden of delights and wonders has caused the spirit of man to roam and to slaughter. Suits and doctor of philosophy degrees clothe a race encased in its own desire for self destruction.
Life, precious like fresh water, is wasted daily in the fields, deserts and streets of the world. Unfortunately, the avoidance of death is not possible in this world. Many fear death. Perhaps, the same number would welcome its sweet, peaceful sleep to escape their tortured, daily existence.
Daily existence is as difficult for many as it would be to survive on Mars. A hostile environment proffers challenges and opportunities to those few who are equipped to survive. However, survival is not always a goal worth having.
The world stands with an uncertain future. Tomorrow will bring fresh trophies of cruelty and horror. Cruel synonyms are barbarous, ferocious, inhuman, pitiless, ruthless, sadistic, vicious, and the list continues without bated breath.
Was human life meant to be this way for so many?
When one is in the country and gazes upon the cloudless, night skies, the question begs itself—is there no one out there who can lead us back to the path of decency and rationality?
Then one has to candidly admit, why would they come to this planet? Perhaps, C. S. Lewis’ quarantine would be the apt word to describe us. If an advanced race is capable of space travel, visiting earth would not be a logical decision on their part.
To observe at a distance would convince any advanced race to keep away from planet earth at all costs to maintain its own sanity. Infection of our nature would be a virulent strain which could jeopardize the whole universe if there were worlds of life beyond this one.
Presently, we have no direct evidence there is life beyond earth. Perhaps, we are the only speck of life in this Cosmos.
If that is the case, should we not strive to survive our own natures and differences? If the world could find common ground in its own humanity to become a race of equals, then the Cosmos would have some meaning. Humans would have found a purpose to exist.
Alas, another dream of the impossible since humans seem destined to end on this ball of cosmic dirt. Perhaps, burned out in an exchange of atomic alterations or a biological contaminant? Let’s not forget asteroids.
Would it be more merciful for an asteroid to end the days of humans? Many scientists believe the remains of an asteroid in the Gulf of Mexico may have ended the reign of the dinosaurs. Dust, simple in its nature, blackened the skies and the warmth fell. The great beasts could not survive the darkness and cold. It seems that sunlight is essential for life on this planet.
Natural history museums have some remains of that once mighty race. They could not survive their fate. Were they predestined to die by the Cosmos?
Will humans in the 21st century die as a race? The primary difference between humans and dinosaurs is that the dinosaurs were victims of a cosmic accident. On the other hand humans can bring about their own destruction in a few seconds on a computer keyboard.
Technology has given us the ability to do the impossible. Unfortunately, the impossible carries a hidden agenda. The wisdom of the keepers of the technology is flawed. Given their inclination to react emotionally will overrule their logic every time.
So, we are left to live and die on this terrestrial ball of rock without hope? It seems that in the greatest struggle to survive the spirit of men and women have down through the countless centuries found a hope.
Will this be the case in the 21st Century? It seems strange that life on this planet is so tilted to destruction.
True religion was meant to answer some basic questions and provide guidance and hope. It seems to have lost its ability to maintain a civilized order of life for the masses. Unfortunately, perverted religion is the cause of conflict among the various sects.
Tolerance of belief would be a welcome relief for many. Too often in the place of tolerance a gun or machete is used on another human being, especially a woman or a child.
Science was once believed to be the saviour of the human race. It was the panacea to the world’s ills.
Unfortunately, science has been transformed into weapons of mass destruction. This misdirected use of science helped to usher in this era of atrocities.
Is there any hope that we might regain the fervor that we welcomed the 21st century?
Perhaps, it is well to reflect on the words of Ezra Pound:
“The phoenix are gone, the river flows on alone.
Now the high clouds cover the sun
And I can not see Choan afar
I am sad.”
Will we ever see the City of Choan again? This is Pound’s haunting question as sadness grips the minds and hearts of those who believed and those who prayed that the 21st century would be different than the 20th.
It is not too late if reason and sanity and tolerance are allowed to rule the peoples of the earth. An olive branch or a handshake is only gestures until they are offered in sincerity and good will. Acceptance is only a noble concept until it is practiced daily.
At the end of this century what will the readers of history conclude from what we did or chose not to do at this moment in history? The decision begins with you. For 2011-2020 is a blank page in our journal.
Will you begin to write your journal on this 24th of January, 2011?
For me this is my 100th Post. How about you?
G. D. Williams © 2011