Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2020.04.08
There's a lot to be said for not saying a lot.


Couds of War

The following recipe for stopping war within 10 days was recently sent to my attention. It required a “strong commitment of each person involved progressing exponentially to a massive scale worldwide.”

“The basis [sic] idea is one person would find 9 other persons to stop work for 10 days straight as a personal commitment to stop war and hold for peace. Those 10 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for the next 9 days. Those 100 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 8 days. Those 1000 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 7 days. And so on multiplying by the power of 10 the total number of persons stopping work each successive day until on the 10th day the entire world would stop war and realize peace.”

Personally, my hope for peace diminishes when I see solutions like these being circulated. Is this the depth of thinking and compassion that will actually bring peace forward? I’ll leave the problems with the math alone. Mostly because I want the keep the reader. So, let’s say we have that “strong commitment of each person”. What’s going to happen?

Loss of life would certainly follow if hospitals were unavailable to tend to the sick and injured, food goods were no longer shipped to places with no local supply (I hear the hunting and gathering prospects in Manhattan are particularly dismal.) or if electrical, water and sewage treatment plants were to fail. With no food and no clean water, the opportunity for disease to move in and ravage large populations is unopposed. When large catastrophes occur, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, the immediate relief efforts are focused on providing food, water and shelter. Without these basics, humans quickly become ill and die as disease begins to take hold.

It is a myth that computers have so successfully automated our society there is no need for human intervention. Such automation fails with staggering frequency. Being adaptable to the conditions of the moment, we humans compensate for the shortcomings of machinery. Not so with the machines. Unplug them and they stop. Stop tending them and they drift off course until they collapse. The flow of goods and services depend very much on humans showing up for work to make it happen. It’s a bit glib to claim that complete cessation of work by everyone on the planet for 10 days would result in peace.

Prosperity, which usually precedes peace, happens when goods and services move. Consider the effect of a few hundred longshoremen stopping work on the west coast. Large quantities of perishable goods were destroyed. Many small business closed as their shelves went bare and customers left while the bills continued to arrive. Now extend this effect to a global scale. Following the attack of 9/11/2001, the government had to remind everyone to go out and “do their patriotic duty” and spend money.

It is disingenuous to assume that because our actions do not kill someone directly, we aren’t to some degree responsible for later deaths that are directly or indirectly attributable to such actions.

In truth, I have every confidence this strategy will fail. Both the math and human nature are against it. While there may be no trouble getting a commitment to stop working (particularly among the swelling ranks of the unemployed or those blissfully unaware there are 10 people willing to work their job for less pay), how do you get a commitment to “find” 10 other people to stop working? We’re talking about humans who cannot commit 10 minutes of quality time to their family. Being human, they don’t behave the same as math.

I’m reminded of a quote from Gurdjieff:

“If a sufficient number of people who wanted to stop war really did gather together, they would first of all begin by making war upon those who disagreed with them. And it is still more certain that they would make war on people who also want to stop wars but in another way.”

Fighting words, to be sure

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