Journal of a Futurist - 1 October 2001
But what would you do if you were George Bush?
How has it come to this? How long gone is the euphoria of a year ago, when so many of us were caught up in the spirit of the Sydney Olympics? That first night, watching the opening ceremony at home, my suspicions were swept aside by a surge of pride and delight at being part of a nation that could celebrate its past with wit and insight, and that could reach out in friendship and belated regret to its indigenous people, and embark on a dreamtime journey, a child in tow, to deepen and define a new and expansive spirit of multi culturalism, one fit for the new millennium. Schmaltzy, yes, but thats showbiz.
In those heady moments, it seemed we had finally embraced the Other, and what did we find? That the Other was really us. Upon reflection, we finally saw that the Other was
I wanted to dance all night, except it would have freaked out my daughters.
But that was then, and this is now.
Fear of the Other is back. The Other in an ancient head-dress, a multi headed hydra of our darkest forebodings.
This Other is apparently so menacing that it cannot be allowed to set foot on our shore, nor even to be seen by media cameras, as it huddles on the deck of a container ship, or sits unseen in protest on a war ship. Having first been sent an SOS, our country then sends in the SAS. (As I write news come that some refugees are being forced to land on Nauru).
No worries - we have done our duty. From container ship to containment, from a leaky smuggler's craft to an abandoned phosphate mine, from fleeing the Taliban to facing our immigration minister Phillip Ruddock, the horror, the horror. Now the Other is little more than electoral booty, to be suffocated in red tape, and set adrift to the land of sorrow and forgetfulness.
Never mind; we have done out duty.
A message has been sent.
Who would have thought that in a globalising world at the dawn of a new millennium, we would see such a resurgence of jingoism? Who would have thought that in the aftermath of the recent mass murders in Washington and New York, surely to be understood as a hideous crime against humanity; who would have thought we would hear from on high, such utterances as
evil barbarians, vengeance, dead or alive, smoke em out, youre with us or against us, infinite justice and
that the sole cause of the cruel attack is because the US shines as the worlds beacon of freedom and opportunity?
They call it a war against terrorism, but its more like a war against history. Its a war against education and illumination, a war against seeing the world as a whole, a war against seeing the world as a system.
How odd to be galloping through the dawn of a new millennium, while saddled with values of the Old Testament.
How come so many have been so quick to pursue the agenda of war?
Within 24 hrs of the attacks, an anchor women on CNN was wearing a superbly tailored khaki jacket, complete with epaulettes. Tabloid fascists with bloated byelines rail against questioning voices as " fifth columnists", and doubters are dismissed as appeasers. Their solution? Give Force a Chance.
Let me state this loud and clear. Justice must come to the perpetrators, so long as it really is justice, and not just the worlds biggest lynch mob.
A few hours after the attacks, I received my first hate email. It began like this:" I bet people like you are happy now
This is a horrible event in the world for all of us, with maybe worse to come; a vital moment to demonstrate an expanded politics of dialogue and inclusion, a time to realise that globalisation might mean more than markets and cheap labour that it might mean listening to the Other, as opposed to blackmailing, threatening or cajoling
. and to build a new kind of human communications system, moving away from the wild west into a wiser world. A chance for healing, not hellfire.
In short, it is time for our leaders to look more to the future, and less to the electorate.
Instead of wasting precious time with White house press conferences to effusively thank the wonderful men and women from the CIA, lets grasp this chance to exert a higher form of leadership, in which Christian fundamentalism makes way for issues of meaning, values, human evolution, higher consciousness and global destiny.
Its easy to criticise, of course, and some of my emailers have already asked: hey, what would you do if you were running the show.
- Sharpen security, amass the evidence and shift the ambience of diplomacy from a Dodge City bar to that of a council of wise elders, drawn from all of earth, church, mosque, synagogue, nation states, academy, mavericks and saints.
- Move from shouting to listening, from a rhetoric of them-verus-us to a recognition of their actions-linked-to-our actions, step back, take a deep breath and view the world though a global lens
not the stupor of patriotism.
- Publicly present credible evidence to identify the culprits, before unleashing the missiles.
- As the millions of hungry fleeing Afghan families are mostly pawns of the Taliban, better to bomb them with food parcels than fill the rivers with the innocent blood. This might even prove an effective strategy in flushing out terrorists.
Theres so much about America I love, especially its talented and spirited citizens, the warmth and courage of everyday people. But its foreign policy leaves me cold
as it would too most US citizens
if only they knew what it was.
So we must ask, how did this happen? This failure to make connections. The shock and surprise at the rage of the desperate. Where does knowledge come from? How is knowledge blocked out?
Is it because we are all looking the other way? There was a piercing remark from a famous New York gossip columnist, soon after the attacks, along the lines of: "The hoo-ha of celebrities, gossip, trivia, scandal what kind of crap have I been writing all my life?"
Perpetual distraction is the modern disease.
Why do people hate us, why do the Palestinian children laugh at our pain? These are difficult, uncomfortable questions. Answers not easily found in Hollywood, Sixty Minutes or Vanity Fair. America is an amazing land, brimming with high times and sweet success for millions; funny, smart, innovative and free thinking. But there are grave crimes committed in the peoples name, about which the people do not know, or care to know. This denial will need to be addressed, long before the last terrorist is captured, dead or alive.
Meanwhile, what would you do, if you were George Bush?
Peter E has responded: "Richard as touching as your liberal instincts are....there are deeper forces at work here....might be useful to pick up "origin of species" and read it again in the light of recent events..."