I was born in the year 1934. So what if anything is special or interesting about me? Well, in the 12,000 or so years since the end of the last ice age, I appear to have lived in the time of greatest change in human civilization - that is the greatest change to date. To illustrate this I will select certain key events that happened after I was born.
On July 16, 1945, when I was 11, the first atom bomb was tested in the desert of New Mexico. I have no memory of that event and probably at the time would not have understood it, but it ushered in the nuclear age.
12 years later at the age of 23 on October 5 1957, I was recently married and living and working in Montreal in Canada. On that Saturday morning as I got out of bed, I saw something strange. Through our apartment window I could see a man in a higher block of apartments on Sherbrooke Street, which was just above us, standing on his balcony, scrutinizing the sky with binoculars. My wife joined me and she too was puzzled at why anyone would be searching the morning skies.
Then we turned on our radio. Sputnik was orbiting the Earth. The great fear all over North America was not so much about the beeping satellite but about the Russian rocket that had placed it up there.
Three years later in 1960, I was on a mountaineering expedition to an unexplored
mountain range inside the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island. We were able to reach
this remote area by flying in to a gravel landing strip which serviced one of the
United States' DEW Line stations. The Dew Line was the defence early warning system of radar stations which stretched from Greenland across the Canadian arctic islands to Alaska.
Before backpacking into the mountains and after we returned a month later, we were able to socialize for a few days with the men at the base. It was at the height of the Cold War and while there was no great sense of fear 1500 miles to the south in the US and in the Canadian cities, the sense of fear with the staff at the base was palpable. They were expecting to see incoming missiles launched from the USSR over the North Pole.
Two years later that fear gripped all of North America as the Cuban missile crisis emerged. We lived with our one year old baby 30 miles from the Plattsburgh B52 bomber base in Upper New York State. All we could think of doing was to buy extra cans of baby food in case we found shelter in the Canadian woods.
What to me was more frightening than the overwhelming fear was the acceptance of the population that nuclear attack was imminent.
The atomic bomb test in New Mexico and Sputnik brought in a new world in which no
one could ever again be certain of being safe in one's own home or bed. We could all be targeted from afar. And our lives were devalued or demeaned by that new fearful fact.
However, history tells us that all that had changed was that annihilation could now be without warning and instant. The possibility of annihilation and fear of it have always been there. Pestilence, famine, attack from wild beasts, earthquake, hurricane, flood.
But as with the animal kingdom humankind has dealt well with the dangers offered by the natural
world. We even survived an ice age and if a wild beast charges we can at least climb a tree.
I'm afraid that our greatest fears and the greatest threat to our lives and wellbeing come not from the physical world, but from our human society, from our fellow men and women, from our doctrines and dogmas, and especially from absolutist and fascist ideologies.
I've had a long and good life and want to be appreciative and optimistic. I was also blessed with some great adventures when I was a young man.
If I were asked what I fear and distrust most, with great reluctance but out of a need to be
honest, I would have to say that I fear and distrust the very system we have set up to protect
us - the State and many of its officials. It's not the wild beast or the hurricane I fear most but the police state.
In the lifetime of this one man there have also been benign developments with great
potential for making a better world, some of which have also changed the way we
live. In my early Twenties I saw my first television screen in a neighbour's house.
In 1959 while working for Bell Telephone, I became one of the world's first programmers, as new fangled devices called computers were developed.
As I went into my Fifties, mobile phones and the Internet evolved, followed in a mere decade or so by social media.
So in a milieu of fear, alleviated by what appear to be a few hopeful technological and social developments, can we as mere individuals join in any meaningful movement which might lead to a better and safer world?
What I now say is more fully explained in a philosophical website linked to on the index page. There is a process in Creation itself and in human civilization which has been called a morphic development. A morphic development is one which facilities its own growth, so if you join it, like a rising tide, it lifts all boats. The morphic development available to humankind is one that strives to overcome fear and its evil servants such as the fascist state and its compliant citizens.
Imagine my mind locked into dogma or doctrine, into absolutism, saying this is absolutely right. That is absolutely wrong. I am right. He is wrong. I do not entertain sick, perverted ideas. He does. He is the pervert.
Were I like this, my mind would also be closed to the possibilities of Creation itself or of a universal force or even a universal mind. Let us say that such a closed state of mind is evil.
Now imagine my mind open to all that may contain beauty, justice and truth. Open to the
possibilities of Creation itself or of a universal force or even a universal mind. A good test may be that I am also open to accepting ambiguity. Such an open mind would
be the opposite to evil - that would be good.
This is a simple but powerful idea.
But each of us as an individual may seem powerless, unable to have any perceptible affect on how society or other individuals think and behave. So how can anyone with no apparent influence carry this great idea forward?
Through lights, camera, action!
The more talented of us have access to performance through the arts and all of us can engage with the arts, whether in song, dance or visual drama. If we are talented, why not take this simple but powerful idea that the open mind is good and the closed mind is bad and incorporate it into the creation of a performance, song or dance or a drama?
If we believe that we are not so talented why not encourage and appreciate it when the more
talented try it? Let's give them our applause.
We don't have to wait for some director to say:
Becoming and belonging
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