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HR: A Look Into The Abyss
By Harun Rashid

5/10/2001 12:17 am Fri

A Look Into The Abyss

by Harun Rashid

Sep 28, 2001

The twentieth century was a time of great technological innovation. The rate of change created a lag effect, such that everyone was at once a creature of a staid yet solid past, a participant in exciting new experience, and a builder of novel assumptions about the future. Now the citizen, sitting comfortably in his civilization, has been dumped rudely on his wayside. Not only has the rate of change decreased to zero, there is a decided deceleration. In some aspects there is little to note beyond the daily rotation of the planet. Perhaps he needs a period of rest and reflection.

A look at the assumptions raises concerns mildly questioned before. We have come to think of ourselves, collectively, as members of a solid and secure civilization. Now we are forced to examine that assumption with unaccustomed care. Civilizations have always had a dependable continuity, based on shared values kept in place by force of arms.

We have assumed that in the globalised world there is a common set of shared values, and further, that these values can be kept intact by a determined force of arms. These are only two of the basic assumptions which must be examined for veracity. Around the world one notes a variety in values, and the continuing contention and conflict which results from any clash for dominance.

Even the development of fatal nuclear arms has not eroded the collective desire to preserve the tenets of our new technological civilization. We have assumed that this desire to preserve existing values was universal, and were unaware of any tangible threat.

Perhaps some fear is justified by the unpredictable behaviour of the insane, but thankfully their numbers are relatively small, and they tend to be incapable of coordinated action. They can usually be identified and restrained before they harm many others.

The fear of the insane resides deep in the subconscious, and this fear is touched when in the company of the near insane. Everyone has had the experience of confronting an irritated or enraged human who threatens or commits a violent act based on imagined or erroneous information. The damage is often not preventable, but it is easily contained and repaired. While there may a small circle of personal fear, the foundations of civilisation are not threatened.

A widespread irrationality that has both technological capability for destruction and hidden tentacles, each willing to be sacrificed for ideological purposes now exists in the world. It is not an original occurrence in self-immolation, destructive power, irrationality/insanity or organisation. We have learned that such irrationality usually occurs in the context of the true believer, whose self righteousness is used to justify whatever violence and mayhem he may commit.

What is unique is a total indifference to the survival of civilisation itself. We are forced to jettison our assumption that everyone respects its benefits, and we must now base all our future decisions and actions on a recognition that we have indeed entered into a new world. However bravely, however mournfully, we must adjust to a new reality. A quasi-nihilistic factor is gnawing at the entrails of civilisation.

However big the frog, or the size of his pond, it is the protection of the impounded water as habitable home that now takes precedence. The antics of this or that petty tyrant have next to no meaning now, and this is reflected in loss of interest in the affairs of small countries, however spirited the personalities they sport. The eyes of the world are now on the center ring, and its entertainment is of such scope and size that interest in the greed and cruelty of personalities in the small counties has lost inertia.

As the fear of world annihilation from nuclear war subsided, the assumption grew that, after all, the present civilisation will somehow survive. This confidence has grown steadily over the past fifty-six years, through times of crisis and high emotion, as the terrifying power of the nuclear bomb has been held in abeyance. This confidence is now gone. Whatever hope there was, that using nuclear bombs would always be unacceptable to everyone, is now lost.

Both India and Pakistan have a nuclear capability. Both are deeply involved in the present attempt to obtain redress and restore confidence in the capability of detection and defense systems. Both countries have joined together with the rest of the world in a collective effort to solve the problem of irrationality and insanity without triggering an irrational and insane ideologically based disaster.

In Malaysia, the unpopular prime minister continues to circle the country, clamouring for attention. Trailing noisily behind him is a string of keys to cells where his innocent and brave critics are held in deplorable conditions, without a hint of humanity or compassion. They serve as his token terrorists, on exhibit like savage carnivores of yore. So fearsome are they, they cannot be seen, and are kept in separate sunless pens. He has caught them in his ISA net, and says the world is safe. But they were there before the WTC was bombed. He is consistent in his lack of logic. He struts as a politician, not an intellect. He is a zookeeper of men.

He seeks a place among the world's statesmen. But he finds none. He has the handicap of being rational. His lust for power, greed for money, and ambition for fame are understandable, though pitiable and commonplace. His struggle to survive a coming economic collapse lacks potential, and reeks of personal gain.

He, detestable to the last, in the larger scheme of things is just a pest, a perpetrator of pestilence, a threat to families and brave men. But he is no threat to civilisation. He represents a faction which abuses the values of civilisation, takes its luxury, taunts it, with total disdain for its ideals. He is that vile creature who preserves civilisation in simulacrum, purely as podium for gigantic ego, devoid of spirit or compassion. Such men are easily and readily forgotten, a menace, the epitome of the anti-hero, the name a derogatory term, an epithet for future generations.

In the building of a coalition to confront the threat posed by the new breed of ideological terrorist, the petty tyrant has little place. If civilisation is to proceed apace, building on its past successes, the dead must be buried and mourned, the rubble cleared to make way for new edifices to come, a monument to those lives lost, a re-building to represent survival of the highest ideals, a commitment to preserve the values of humanity.

Today the world pauses, to reappraise what things are of value. The search is important. From success a will can arise to defend and preserve. If injustice has caused the insanity and irrationality that attacks civilisation, then it is for greater justice that the world must aim. Without appropriate values, that will cannot arise.

There is nothing to guarantee civilisation, as we now know it in its technological time warp, will survive. What will survive, though perhaps in isolated pockets, is a desire for truth, for freedom, for equality. Wherever there is man, these will survive. Where they are absent, civilisation in its highest form cannot exist.

In the dichotomy of good versus evil, the petty tyrant is among the evil to be fought. For the moment, the threat of irrational terrorism is the greater menace. Until it is suppressed and removed, the world economy will suffer. Let us make a common resolve, that as the threat of the irrational terrorist is tamed, the rational tyrant shall also lose his teeth. It is the rational tyrant who is also a terrorist, a threat to civilisation's higher ideals, and like that other terrorist, eager to conceal himself as such.

Link Reference : HR Worldview: A Look Into The Abyss