Do you ever sometimes watch the news and think, ‘wow, I don’t have a clue!’ ?
It’s not often that something takes my breath away on TV. There’s the Kim Bauer nipple scene in 24 season 2, any Avril Lavigne music video, and let’s face it, who doesn’t get a little short of breath when Jack Bauer draws his gun and blows a terrorist away…
…but joking aside, I’m not a melodramatic person, and if anything I try to hide what I’m really feeling most of the time.
Probably the most stunned I’ve been watching TV, or specifically the news, is on Tuesday 11th September 2001. I was working at the time, early afternoon UK time was when the events in a sunny American New York morning were unfolding. I was told what happened, but like most people, nothing prepared me for seeing the actual events replayed when I got home; of two 747s filled with people flying at full speed into two buildings and exploding into flame. I felt a cold shiver and dread watching those images. And, given I was a theist at the time, those emotions were magnified by the feeling that this would escalate into something akin to Armageddon, the Apocalypse!
Those events are very rare on the world stage, but even today watching the news I see riots in Zimbabwe; the police beating protestors near to death, or worse. Spraying bullets at unarmed people who were paying their respects to the dead!
Right now in Parliament, the British government is debating over whether to upgrade the nation’s nuclear weapons sytems at a cost of £15-£20 billion. There is debate on both sides; both have good points. My personal view is, is our current nuclear defence system REALLY in danger from rival nations? Are our enemies REALLY put off by nuclear deterrent? And doesn’t it all just raise the ante by having even better weapons; read: weapons that can kill even more people in even less time?
I’m no pacifist. I’m not against nuclear weapons per se; I understand why they’re required, and I understand the need for strong national security. I DO question how much money is really invested in it; with the NHS a veritable shitbox and so many social and racial problems in this country, investing so much money into having the best nuclear arsenal and EVEN more nuclear submarines is very much like putting a forcefield around an iron gate outside a solid concrete wall, just to protect a house of cards.
But the counter-arguments aren’t bad either! And the truth is: I just don’t know! I don’t know enough and I don’t have all the facts! It’s a bloody big world, and there are SOOOO many issues and decisions. It’s tough. If I was “god”, I wouldn’t know where to start, although I imagine a few places I make changes straight away!
It is a certainty that over the last 50-100 years the human race has never had to grow up so fast, to live in times any more dangerous, more important, more perilious; where the stakes are not who owns this scrap of ground or cave…but are the future of the species. Nuclear weapons, suicide bombers, religious fundamentalists, core racism and prejudice…will the human race really survive another hundred years?
My opinion: yes! And I’ll tell you why. I look at the trouble in the world, the big decisions, the huge debates, the really important questions…and I almost long for the days when I DID believe in God. Why? Because it’s easy! If there was an awesome friendly being up there just waiting to step in, click His fingers and solve all our moral, social, political, scientific, and religious dilemmas…. wow! Who wouldn’t want that?! Barring obvious contraditions about the existence of God, it would seem every human would long for a quick fix to our problems…
Guess what? It’s not going to happen. The human race has no saviour. No skydaddy, no almighty friend looking over our shoulder. There is no cosmic knight in shining armour, sweeping us up out of this mess we’ve made for ourselves…none. Zilch. Nada. We are, for all intents and purposes, alone.
Which is EXACTLY why we need to solve problems for ourselves! Instead of waiting for an imaginary being to make things better, we have to do it for ourselves! Human beings have to help each other, and talk to each other, and argue with each other, and debate each other. If we have a problem, a big question, we need to DEBATE it, not kill. Let’s not shy away from tough decisions, let’s confront them, and solve our problems. The only reason mankind has made such vast social and technological progress in the past 100 years or so is BECAUSE we’ve begun to think of ourselves as alone; it’s the movement away from the supernatural and towards the natural, away from the magical and towards the rational, away from the religious and towards the scientific, that many social problems have been solved and, well, just look at the advances in science, tech, medicine, and our entire understanding of the universe and ourselves…
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a bloody loooooong way to go! But if we all just stood around with our fingers up our arses, waiting for someone else to cure our ills or make it just go away…nothing would ever get done, and we’d still be living in the Dark Ages (where many fundamentalists would have you live right now if they could!). Only when the human race grows up collectively and helps each other, do we see advancement.
When 600,000 people were killed a few years ago in a Tsunami, who stepped in to help? Was it Christ, or Yahweh, or Allan, or Vushnu? Was it bollocks! It was OTHER HUMANS BEINGS. People from all over the world donated BILLIONS in charity to help OTHER HUMANS BEINGS that they never met and would never meet! And yet the SURVIVORS of this tradegy THANKED GOD for their survival! The logic is so twisted it’s perverse!
But I have great optimism in the human race. I honestly believe that we will continue to grow and help each other in the decades and centuries to come. I don’t think we will eradicate war or crime. I don’t think violence, racism, bigotry, and religion will end. These things appear to be an unfortunate by-product of our evolution. But perhaps our minds will outgrow them, and what comes as a primitive animal urge will be quieted by our superior minds, and we’ll see EVERY human being as equal, as worthy of respect, dignity, and love… we won’t judge people for their personal, political, religious, or sexual decisions. The only thing we’ll say is “if it hurts no one, do as you will”.
I honestly believe the human race will “get there” or as near as possible (!) one day….but we won’t do so by faith or religion, pacifism or sheer hope. We’ll do it by actions, education, science, and helping each other.