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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
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
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
Link Reference : HR Worldview: A Look Into The Abyss