Wednesday.. January 16, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 127


Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

            Irony makes the world a more interesting place to live.
            It twists the “normal” into the “abby-normal,” as Gene Wilder so deftly put it in Mel Brooks’ beautifully ironic “Young Frankenstein.”
            Montana is one of the few states in America where the population doesn’t grow, or if it does, it moves like a glacier.  The leader of de-evolution of population is Wyoming.  The irony of sitting in a state where beauty and resources abound in plenty, is knowing that the rest of the world has another idea in mind than remaining stable, consistent, “normal.”
            As I rose this morning and walked out into the chilly Montana morning and looked up into the gauzy sky suggesting the possibility of snow, and sucked in clean air brushed down to my lips from the strong, defiant ribs of the Rocky Mountains surrounding the Helena Valley—I thought back over thirty years ago to a symposium my wife and I had taken in San Diego, California at the University of California San Diego campus.
            The title was—The Future Of Man.   
            It was held over a six month period.   World famous speakers from a variety of fields including education, military, industry, finance, philosophy, headlined the roster.   Three Nobel Prize winners offered their viewpoints over the course of the symposium, and, the hook was at the end, this most prestigious platform of the world’s most forward thinkers would spell out a map of the future, and give us their bottom line of what to expect as time’s clock ticked.
            I was free lancing at the time, writing articles for magazines and news syndicates.   Having a leading edge on the future seemed to me a vital part of my job.   Also, I was shifting my attention toward becoming the world’s greatest undersea reporter, and had made inroads to align myself with some of the most fascinating research relating to who owned the resources under the ocean, and how the military-industrial complex viewed maintaining and holding rights under the sea.
            I became closely acquainted with Professor Richard Dill, one of the best minds in the world when it came to exploring the powers under the ocean.  He was also a key design input force for the DSRV-1, the first deep sea rescue vehicle designed to extract people trapped in nuclear submarines buried deep in the ocean floors where no others could go.
            We, Americans, had just landed people on the moon and space exploration was peaking.   Tied to the budgets for space pioneering was funding for oceanography research.  As long as the public’s eyes were awed with outer space, “inner space,” the bottom of the sea, was also protected: they were symbiotic fellows.

            The Symposium was not well attended.  We sat in an amphitheater at UC San Diego and could throw spitballs if we wanted at the greatest minds in the world.   Political correctness and the women’s movement had not yet gained the power of the club, so therefore no lines of protestors stood outside the doors jeering that the “Future Of Man” was a sexist name that marginalized gays, lesbians and all women, past, present and future.    Neither was there an army of lawyers waiting to file lawsuits for emotional distress caused by the world’s leaders excluding women from speaker agenda, or disenfranchising them from the future of the world.    Quite frankly, at the time, no one cared, for everyone knew the Future Of Man was dependent upon the Future Of Women.  
            Dr. Edward Teller, the key force behind the atomic bomb, and other Nobel winners drew maps and sine waves showing how we were going to blow ourselves up and how we were dissolving nuclear resources into military rather than industrial might.
            One of the key anti-government proponents cited President Eisenhower’s unfulfilled plan to conscript every citizen into government service for two years to reduce the size of federal government; and an education specialist told how the most important teachers of children should be non-teachers, average citizens without educationally twisted backgrounds who cared more for the children than structured learning outlines, and they should be allowed to teach for no more than five years and then retired to bring vigor and excitement into the first years of a child’s education.
            Of course, each speaker presented mountains of facts to support his prediction of what the future needed to add or subtract for the world to prosper.
            On the final day of the symposium, all the prior speakers gathered for a panel—a consensus among the great minds laying out the path for the Future Of Man.    I looked forward to the sparks that might fly as the world’s greatest intellectual egos all attempted to agree on one common platform for the future.  I was sure such an end-point would be impossible.
            I couldn’t have been more wrong, or more shocked by their summary.
            My pen was poised; my ears cocked waiting to hear the secret to the future.   When it was extolled, man-by-man, intellectual-by-intellectual, I sat stunned, but pragmatically aware they were right.
            In a non-intellectual nutshell, they said the future of man was that half the world would become “slaves” to the technological “other half.”   Their consensus was the world could not support equal advancement among nations.   That in the end, the world would be split between the halves and have-nots.   The masters and servants.   The strong and the weak.
            It came down to supply and demand and resources to support a world of advanced technology.   On the military-industrial side, it was deemed impossible to provide technology to underdeveloped nations who would more than probably misuse them because they hadn’t “earned the right” to own them.
            One by one, they summarized the world as though it were a piece of cake cut in two—one side rich and prosperous, the other feral and fetid.    Their population curves, economic forecasts, and technological projections demanded that only one side of the coin could afford the luxuries of modern civilization without depleting the resources of the earth, and the other half must serve to supply them as the labor, the grunts of the earth.
            To a bleeding heart liberal, such talk was heresy.   It rubbed raw against the “do unto your neighbors as you would have them do unto you.”   It smacked of Hitlarian principles of “Deutschland Uber Alles!”   But, if you looked at the numbers, studied the facts, used your common sense, the nagging question of “how the entire world could all live on the pinhead of technological advance” was unresolved.    There was much more demand than supply of resources to achieve such a goal.
            The great minds stopped short of how to “enslave” half the world.  They didn’t go into how to build the Great Wall Of Technology to keep the have-nots from crossing the moat into Paradise.   It was science fiction at its best—yet the men who summarized this incredible map of the future were the most revered thinkers and doers of our time—hailed by the world for their contributions to mankind and womankind.
            Over the past thirty years I’ve kept those thoughts secreted in my mind.  They aren’t casual conversation pieces.   There was something deadly accurate about the facts they presented, but something more deadly wrong about the ethics of smothering nations and peoples so that they could serve those who had, and suppressing their right to acquire what Thomas Paine so deftly noted in  his 'The Rights Of Man'.
            Terrorism has changed my ideas of keeping my thoughts to myself, and, in an ironic way, validated what the great minds of the Future Of Man Symposium stated three decades ago.
            The Taliban seeks to halve the world.  It’s great goal is to cleave itself from Westernization, to deny its citizens the right to technology, to suppress the formation of a McDonald’s on every corner of every dusty road in every middle eastern country.
            Osama bin Laden could have been one of the speakers at the symposium.  His solution was to extricate the “other half” from technology.  
            As I have studied the thinking of those from a part of the world that lives without the luxuries we term “civilized,” I find more and more advocates denouncing that what we call “normal advancement” to be “abby-normal” by their standards.
            I’ve always been skeptical that Osama bin Laden is anything more than a figurehead of beliefs rising out of the Middle East.   Men like Juma Namangani, legendary head of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (I.M.U.)—the Che Guevara of Muslims in Central Asia, seek a pan-Islamic state across Central Asia.   His advanced guards, reports Ahmed Rashid in the Jan. 14 issue of The New Yorker, “are beautiful female snipers armed with the latest scopes and night-vision goggles, and that the guerrillas’ knapsacks are filled with dollar bills that they distribute to the farmers who feed them.”  He goes on to say that Muslim holy men make the guerrillas’ bodies impervious to wounds and their bodies sweet-smelling after death.
            The irony of the Future Of Man Symposium is not that the technological world will enslave the non-technological world, but vice versa.   Today, Terrorism threatens to blow up the fragility of modern advancement.
            Its first step was the World Trade Center.
            The “uncivilized” washed the world of “technology and power” into a world of fear.   The edifices of greatness that have been built by years of evolution of technology now are crumbling.   When the most primitive people on the earth from an economic and technological point of view can make the most advanced people shudder in fear, the tables have turned.   The “haves” have become the “have-nots” as of 8:46a.m., September 11.
            Many will argue this point.   But, the mere fact that Americas military might is still trying to find and kill one man after four months of throwing an entire nation’s resources at him, proves one simple point—cockroaches will survive after all the other creatures have died.
            In the evolution of mankind, we forget that perhaps our way of life as the “haves” of the world may not be the only or best way to survive the future.   Perhaps, in the long run of human evolution, the lack of technology will provide those who live in “abby-normal” ways to our tastes, fortitudes of survival we can only imagine.
            Montana is like that.   While it does not race to build its power and might, it sits upon the greatest resource in the world—water.  It is the watershed for the United States.  Should it stop the flow of water, it could cripple an entire nation.
            Maybe, like the Taliban, or the I.M.U., Montana isn’t so “backward” after all.  Maybe it’s sitting on top of the world—and maybe it’s a “have” not a “have-not” state.


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