With how things have been going recently, it is scary to imagine what the state of the world will be by the end of this century. The previous century was characterized by an even mix of the wonderful and atrocious. While there were the World Wars, there were also amazing advances in medicine. While there were segregation and hate, there were also movements against these injustices that ultimately prevailed. Needless to say, things weren’t always easy and pleasant, but humanity not only persevered, we thrived.
Now, the question is how will we come out of the other end of this century? Technology and science have reached levels never before seen, and information is more widely available than our ancestors could have ever dreamed of. Despite all of these advantages, humanity is still plagued by constant acts of violence, fueled by ignorance and dogma. While these maladies have been part of human life for at least as long as recorded history, the stakes are higher than ever before. The very same ingenuity that has gotten us this far has placed us into a global stalemate. Unlike the wars of our ancestors, we run the serious risk of having the next big war truly being the war to end all wars. The desire for power and dominance, along with the fear of perceived enemies has caused us to squander an overwhelming amount of genius and resources into perfecting weapons of war. We have been so successful in this regard that one of the major reasons there has not been a major war between world powers since the end of WWII is the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Simply put, this doctrine refers to the fact that if two nuclear armed countries were to go to war, there would be no winner; only death and destruction for all involved. Or as President Trump put it “Nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”
Although many will argue that MAD is a good thing since it has prevented a major war for quite some time, this is a short-sighted way of viewing this matter. First off, anyone who considers a situation that can be compared to a group of people standing with guns to each others heads, only not firing out of fear of having someone else pull the trigger in response, is not thinking clearly. While I agree we are fortunate that this stalemate has held for as long as it has, how long do we think our luck will hold out? With weapons of mass destruction becoming more available, the odds that someone pulls the trigger only become higher. In addition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, there is also the issue of other WMD’s such as biological and chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands.
In addition to all of the direct ways we have created to destroy ourselves, we now also face destruction as a result of how we deal with the planet. We have covered climate change here at Across the Lines: News and Analysis on more than one occasion, but this point can not be stressed enough. If you take the time to review any of the genuine scientific studies on this subject you will realize what a serious issue this really is. Once you get past the propaganda from the billion-dollar industries that would like to keep operating as usual, regardless of how much harm they are causing to the environment you will understand why scientists are so worried when it comes to this issue.
Now, this article is not meant to fear-monger. It is meant to contextualize the situation we are facing in the hope that some of you reading this will realize the ridiculousness of our current predicament and join us in doing something about it. If I did not believe that we can overcome these issues I would not waste the time discussing them. I believe that as a species we have reached a crossroad and have an important decision to make. Simply put, it is “evolve or die”. We have the choice to either continue down the path we are on; refusing to believe that there may be a better way, or we can decide that enough is enough and make a stand. If we all decide that we will no longer accept that war is just an unavoidable part of life, if we decide that we will no longer allow fear mongering leaders to trick us into fearing our fellow humans. If we stop allowing propaganda to convince us that a child being killed by a missile is somehow less atrocious because it took place in another country, if we stand with, and care for those in need despite where they are from, language they speak or what religion they follow, then we can turn this around. If we stop emphasizing our trivial differences and instead realize our shared humanity we can all begin to understand and get along with one another. These may seem like radical ideas, but when you really think about it, they are not even close to as crazy as how we currently do business.
We love to blame the state of the world on our leaders, but that is just a cop-out. We are all responsible for things being the way they are, and if there is going to be any change worth while it is going to come from us all changing how we think and behave. The question as to whether or not this century will be our last is dependent on the decisions we make today. If we managed to come this far as a species in conflict with itself, imagine what we can accomplish if we overcome our petty disputes and come together. This century will either be the one in which we wreck things beyond repair, or the one in which we overcome our inherent flaws and come together to create a better world for us all.
By, Frank Bursese