By: Wayne Brown
If you posed the question to people around the world, “what do you think is the single most important thing in the world today?”, then you might be surprised as to how varied the answers might be. I have also seen similar questions posed in this writer’s venue and have been amazed at the broad aspect of the answers. At the same time, it does point out how different people see things or the effect of things in the world. Given that thought process, I set about wondering to myself what made up the glue that holds this world together. The conclusions I reached frightened me to say the least.
The humanity which populates this planet is as different as night and day in so many ways. Our backgrounds, our cultures, our religion, our politics, our expectations, our desires for the future…the list is endless as to how we differ and yet in so many ways we can share a smile or a laugh half way around the world because some aspect of what happened to me is similar to a life occurrence in their world. That is probably the singular connection other than sheer existence which ties us together in this world. As much as that connection holds promise, I am not sure that it can overcome the vast differences which separate us like the vast oceans of the world.
When I boil everything down, I come up with four items that make up the glue of the world. These are the essence of the fabric that makes up humanity regardless of our origins and to a large degree regardless of our future desires given that we are thinking with a sound mind. These factors are Faith, Hope, Trust, and Love. As you quickly realize, they are intangible yet visible in many ways. We cannot touch them or examine them too closely but we can find evidence of their existence all throughout our lives and the lives of others in this world. I don’t believe they are concepts created by man as they seem almost instinctive and there from our birth…possibly in our genes?
Faith comes in many forms. One of the first we think of is “faith” in terms of our religious beliefs. Religion is one of the first places mankind turns in times of fear or need. Faith in a higher being, faith that prayer will be answered; faith that a light will shine on those who must make the right decision and choose the correct way…we find ourselves looking for that faith on a regular basis. We need that to have a “good feeling” about the world around us. At the same time, as we look at the concept of faith throughout the world, especially on a religious basis, there are those of faith who place no value on human life. There are those of faith who believe that those who are not of “their faith” should be eradicated from the earth. These are not lightly held beliefs but are deeply rooted in the beliefs of their particular religion giving such faith a legitimate basis for existence, at least in their minds it does. So I think it is fair that we conclude that faith conceptually is both a negative and a positive in today’s world.
Trust is a function of the human condition and thus it differs with each individual. We trust on different levels. We can be untrusting of those who surround us yet fully trusting in the God or higher being in which we believe from a religious perspective. Trust spans every day life from the personal relationship to one’s relationship with God. Trust, as it pertains to mankind and life on earth, becomes a function of one feeling secure; feeling that right is on their side and their evil cannot come to the door. As a people, we trust that our government and our military will protect our borders and keep those who would do evil at arms length. We trust in our traditions, beliefs, and our customs as a people. All too often we trust in the premise known as the Golden Rule only to find that many in the world do not subscribe to such principles. We trust that the world will stay in one piece because “right” is on our side. As a result, we experience the euphoria of well-being and peace whether it is real or just perceived on our part.
Hope is what keeps us going. We hope for a better day. We hope for a better tomorrow. We hope for a better future for ourselves and our children. Hope is intertwined with trust and faith. When faith and trust are lost, hope seems rather futile because there is little or nothing in which we place any sense of reliance. We must first establish faith; establish trust and then hope will emerge and fill out our resolve to make the world a better place. In the darkest hours of our past, when humanity has been at its lowest ebb, hope has been the singular difference for those who survived. Without hope, we quickly give up and relent. We do not resurface for that important next breathe of air in life’s struggle.
Love is probably the hardest to describe perhaps because it is the most important and likely represents our salvation in this world. Love is something that mankind is born with a natural need to give and receive. We spend a lifetime searching for it. We agonize hours, days, and years over the lack of it and pose an endless array of question with regard to why we cannot find it in our life. Obviously, we need it as human beings. Love is the link that binds humanity as a common people. We can have our differences but love allows us to respect those differences when we love those who hold them. A sense of love is what creates our desire to respect our fellow man. Like the other factors, love takes on aspects. Love of mankind is certainly different than love between two people in a marriage yet it springs from the same place within our soul and our heart. For whatever reason, there are those among mankind who elect to teach hatred, who circle back to the concept of faith, and say, “I cannot love you for you do not believe as I do”. It also goes without saying that it also means “I do not trust you nor is there any hope that we can exist together”. It then becomes a choice…either me or you. The other factors trump our basic desire to find love for our fellow man.
So the reality of the world is that mankind does not have a common basis of faith, trust, hope, or love and in too many instances associates these things only with their own culture and value system. Thus, we come back to one civilization set on the destruction of another…the struggle of mankind down through the centuries since the existence of time. Technology changes the world but the world may not change with technology because mankind cannot find a way to apply the concepts of faith, trust, hope, and love to all who populate the earth and have it returned in kind. That is the unfortunate fly in the ointment so to speak.
Where does that leave us in today’s world? That seems like a reasonable question to consider. Some of us may not think about it a lot but the concepts that I have described above come in to play in our lives on a daily basis. Our world today is filled with technology. We have some level of new fangled convenience within arms reach at all times. These things are changing the world but is the world changing with them? Today, we have mobile telephones more capable than the largest of computers just twenty-five years ago. Today, a simple mobile phone can be used to launch missiles, blow up aircraft, or just simply send a text message.
In the process of embracing this new technology, we take a step away from what we have known. The art of conversation is less practiced as people opt for the convenience of the text message over a face to face meeting or a simple phone call. In making that selection, we step a little further away from humanity, away from that interaction, that personal touch. We are less “involved” emotionally with our fellow man than possibly we have ever been in the past. In case you are wondering, this is not progress in any form of the word. But, it is a good example of the technology changing the world and they way we live in it yet we really do not change as a people at all in terms of our beliefs, cultures, and desires.
I point this out to say that technology in so many, many ways today is removing the human contact from those breaches between the various sects of humanity. Just like in a video game, we can push a button and blow up a thousand people in Technicolor and 3-D and laugh at the result. Sure, if we are in our right minds, we know it is only a game and is an experience of only make-believe but the reality of it all is that it seasons our soul to deal with the potential of such an atrocity played out on our fellow man. Think back to the events of 9-11 and realize how much it all seemed like you were viewing the events of a video game as the tragedy played out before our eyes. We no longer have to choose to get along when we can opt to destroy the opposition. Soon that concepts starts to seem like a good solution once we are seasoned to it.
Much of our existence as a “global civilization” lies in the factors which I discussed earlier. More of mankind subscribes to those factors than does not at this point in time. We remain a civilized humanity co-existing in the world with some on the sidelines preaching hatred and destruction. As they do so, they slowly chip away at the balance and attempt to shift down the ratio of those who subscribe to the factors down to those who exist on hate, class envy, and a desire to destroy those who oppose their beliefs. While those who take that approach are seemingly working hard to achieve their goal, the rest of us must ask ourselves “what are we doing to offset it?” What we are doing in the interest of Faith, Trust, Hope, and Love may not be enough to hold the critical balance that keeps us civilized on this earth.
Those who do not subscribe to the four factors discussed above look for ways to undermine their effect in the world. They realize that civilization works against them because it sustains the fabric of the factors of Faith, Trust, Hope, and Love. Civilization is a deterrent to their objective. If the foundation of civilized society can be disturbed, then the factors slowly cease to be an influence on mankind. Thus, given that premise, the focus shifts to chipping away at the foundation.
We get up in the morning from our rest then turn on the lights and the heat or air conditioning, depending on the time of year. We take a hot shower and dress in our clothes for work. We prepare a hot breakfast and some coffee to enjoy while we read the morning paper. We then get in our vehicle and make the all too familiar commute to the workplace. Once there we employ various technologies to derive those products or services which make the company or our company money and thus we eventually get paid. With that money, we buy the goods and services we need to sustain the daily lifestyle I just described. We do it day in and day out without too much thought about it. We basically take it for granted because it has been that way for so long…perhaps all our lives. There lies the problem and therein lies the cracks in the foundation.
We are all aware of the competition for crude oil supplies in the world today. China, the emerging giant of the Far East, grows stronger by the day and its hunger for fossil fuels expands exponentially. This includes not only crude oil but also the coal which powers the plants that produce 80% of China’s electricity. China does not have the necessary resources to sustain its need for crude oil and will exhaust its own supply of coal resources in less than fifty years. China’s population will slowly shift from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector just as it the same movement took place in America during the Industrial Revolution. At that movement takes place, China will see a drop in food staples and will have to turn to the outside world to for the necessary food staples to feed its massive population. These factors do not necessarily make China a bad country because they are occurring; they simply are realities of the world today. One thing is for sure though; these factors will play into the breaking down of civilization’s foundation.
As crude oil and fossil fuel resources slowly deplete, the competition for them will drive up the price of those products. That pricing will in turn be felt in the transportation sector which moves the goods displayed on the retail shelves which support our busy lifestyles. The price of fuel will go up; the price of transportation will go up; the price of products on the shelf will go up. It is the trickle down effect commonly referred to as “inflation”. In this case, there will be no cyclic relief as energy resources continue to deplete thus inflation will continue to drive prices higher and higher until the consumer begins to have to make choices as to which items they can do without…certainly basic food staples and fuel to get to work will ride high on those priorities. Companies will begin to fail because they cannot produce a product at a reasonable price which will in turn cause a loss of jobs and further issues in the consumer sector which will only broaden the negative impact to other companies. Economies will begin to fail.
As these factors set in, people will become growingly desperate to fill the basic survival needs of their lives. Faith will begin to diminish. Faith that the system can and will recover will be lost. Panic will ensue. Law and order will take a second seat to survival of the fittest. Theft will become the norm to sustain. Grocery stores will be the target of crowds and riots in the streets. Man will confront man in the cereal aisle and fight to the death over boxes of corn flakes. Family and individual survival will rule the day and chaos will rule the streets. Electrical grids will become insufficient. People will not be able to afford electrical power. With jobs lost, homeowners will default on payments; financial institutions will be overrun with defaulted loans. Houses will become battlegrounds and places where squatters and urchins hide. People will roam the streets like animals in search of prey.
Man will lose trust in the government, in the financial institutions, and in the economy as a whole. The lights will no longer turn on. The hot shower will be gone. The world will be dark and hungry, an existence for which man is so ill-prepared in this day and time in most parts of the world. Government will basically lose its ability to obtain cooperation from the people because trust cannot be restored. The citizens will feel that the government has basically let them down and left the in the dark to survive on their own.
As this chaos plays out, hope will begin to suffer. Prayer will be thrown aside for more instinctive efforts. People will see the chaos about them and realize that things can only get worse and know there is nothing left to hope for in such a world outside their own daily survival process. As faith and trust diminish, hope can only follow and slip away into the darkness lost in time.
Finally, love will give way to the basic instincts of survival. Tribes will form and territories will form with boundaries. Even within the tribes, brutality will rule the day with the strong towering over the weak and death a common occurrence. Mankind will be driven by his selfishness and greed to resort to brutalizing others just to stay alive. The concept of love will fade into obscurity and be replaced by the instinct of animals.
The eventuality that I describe above may seem too far fetched for you to conceive. Certainly there are those in the world who believe that nothing could destroy our Faith, Trust, Hope, and Love of each other yet how often have we considered those factors against the backdrop of a civilization falling apart and losing all that we have known in the way of security, comfort, fulfillment, and self-actualization. How many times have we considered the real possibility that mankind could return to the era of the caveman with a few simple technological shortfalls which crack the foundation of our civilization and destroyed the fabric of mankind?
Humanity has some tough choices to make. God does not need to show up and destroy us. We can destroy ourselves as we act like white rats in a maze scurrying about driven by the various stimuli introduced into our little world. Humanity has the choice…find a way to exist in harmony or perish together. God will only observe and either burst forth with joy and contentment or cry in shame at what he has created.
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