A Disarming Story: Part Two

author: Walter M. Spink | September 2007

Looking back on our world community now, when I am fifty, it is strange to think how we struggled to protect our fences—to keep sacred our flags and our divisions. What a staggering shock it was to the whole divided world, to be told that we must, as it were, “throw all of our cherished weapons in the sea”; that from the smallest pistol to the most obese nuclear bomb, we must empty our beloved arsenals, upon which the world’s birthright had been so long and so massively and so shockingly squandered.

It was only after the Visionaries’ round of “therapeutic” destructions in 2031 that their turbulent but transforming program for the unification of the world started to take effect. By then, the urgent need for a firm, even a harsh, control over our destructive powers had been proven by the disastrous confrontations that we all know too well. I mean the total destruction—the sudden wiping away—of both Israel and Palestine in that sobering “one day war”. I mean the “taking out” of both the developing North Korean and Brazilian nuclear facilities. And I also mean, as a consequence, the horrors of those long years of a world on nerve-wracking Red Alert, right up to the time of the Visionaries’ dramatic intervention in the troubled affairs of the world.

Before that painful, but saving, thrust, the inhabitants of the whole globe, but most notably the young, were becoming convinced that the world was inevitably doomed to a nuclear Armageddon. The internet polls, by 2027, recorded that no less than 82% of the world’s student population believed that still another devastating nuclear war was likely within their own lifetime, while a staggering 46% believed that such a war was inevitable within the next decade and that, all too easily getting out of control, would probably destroy our civilization.

And of course that was even before Shanghai. After Shanghai, the world’s temperature rose almost to the breaking point. The young, if they still had dreams now, had to share them with desperation.

One thing was clear. It was not the doing of the Visionaries. Their later actions prove too well that their plan for the future was deeply respectful of human life. Could it have been some mad head of state, envious of China’s phenomenal growth, and hoping to gain by its rival’s startling setback—a whole decade of development, as it turned out. Or was it—could we believe this?—a macabre event orchestrated by one of the country’s own forever contending parties, indulging in a heedless internal play for power? It is likely by now, of course, that we shall never know.

One is taken back to the turbulent early decades of our century, where hundreds of the innocent were killed in primitive bomb attacks engineered, often with great skill, by terrorist groups whose identity is also totally unknown even to this very day. Or to the—by comparison—now minor tragedy of 9/11, where the whole point seems to have been the horror of a purely random destruction of life, as if this could redress the imbalance of the world. But the difference is this: if the anonymous attacks of the early years of our century destroyed mere hundreds, here we are talking about millions—millions who were lucky enough to die suddenly, and millions more, on the cruel edges of the blast, whose death we had to watch for days and weeks and months and years, accusingly.

Nor was this the end of our fears. When would the next city be obliterated? and where? Was this inconceivable aggression directed against China, or against the world? Has the whole world become a bomb beneath our feet? Can, as we improve upon our powers of destruction, a single person wipe out the world? And is he hiding behind some neighbor’s fence, working beneath some neighbor’s flag? Is our own destruction the final promise of our progress—a progress that we know, within our hearts, should be the promise of a transformed world?

With these events to warn them, is it any wonder that young people the world over were aching for and demanding some resolution to the mounting problems of a civilization that seemed to have been more and more corrupted at the core. For it was, after all, their world, and with the fervent tenacity of youth, they were not about to let it go. But how could they act in a world blinded by the burdens of power. How could they make their voice heard when the world, in its mounting confusions, was not listening? The internet was inundated with their concerns and their suggestions, and equally with their fury. But they had no focus; no plan of action.

The story of the decades of the thirties and forties is the story of how the dreams and the desires of young people everywhere were finally facilitated—finally focused—and how this changed the world. It is the remarkable story of how the luminous, but inchoate, energies of the young gradually found an appropriate goal in the harshly disciplined structures of societal action and responsibility imposed upon mankind by the Visionaries. The young now suddenly saw that they could act—that they could dream—and that they could best act and dream effectively within the productive structure that the Visionaries had imposed upon the earth’s changing history. And happily, these visions coincided; both the Visionaries and the Young knew that the world must fundamentally change, and that it must do so soon, or it would surely be destroyed. So they both were working toward the ideal of a “global village”, where the wealth of the world would be fairly shared, where all would, finally, speak in the same language, and where, with the old fences down, each person could now happily share in the plowing of his neighbor’s field, and in its harvesting.

It would be hard to describe adequately the mounting excitement of those first days of our new world. Days full of promise, of hard planning and hard work, and of contention too. But always the feeling was paramount, that we were working together, and must work together, and can work together. Of course, it could not all be done at once, and there were powerful forces at play that were insisting upon the retention of the past. But the sheer force of the Visionaries’ unyielding control, and the determination of the young to see these programs of the future through, gradually were assuring a new and sturdy structure—a template—for the construction of a new society.

Think of the difficulties on the one hand, and the exciting promise on the other, of working with an overweening power that was forcing all of the weapons of the world to be melted down into ploughshares. Think of the difficulties on the one hand, and the exciting promise on the other, of forcing trillions of “military” dollars into a fund for the common good; and of replacing the exchange of soldiers for the exchange of students. That it could be accomplished—as indeed it was—staggers the imagination; but it was due to the force of Einstein’s grudgingly recommended “supranational military authority” on the one hand, and the surging force of the dream of the young on the other. It could not have been done without this world-changing combination of totally committed and totally believing partners in the transformation.

Admittedly, although helpless in the face of the exuberance of change, the “old world” wrestled mightily to resist our transformations, willing to continue in a world on fire—indeed, constantly flaming—if only their privileges and their powers could be preserved. But now that the world, despite their desires, has changed, they too are finally benefiting from the open rewards of community; and soon, it is clear, they will praise what we have achieved, with such joy, and such agony, together.

Gradually, as the 2030s went on, and even more in the 2040s, the vast student exchange program was having a salutary effect, developing friendship and understanding throughout the whole world. At the same time, the humanitarian initiatives were gradually making their inroads into the long-established problems of disease and poverty. There was light dawning, and a real (and totally new!) sense of hope was making its way into the chat rooms and blogs of the internet, while the older and more conventional media, to say nothing of the offices of government, were now suddenly opening widely to the concerns, suggestions, and developing programs of this once un-heard generation. Anyone who was present at the “million-man” (sometimes two million!) marches on the world’s capitals in the late 2030s knew that a new and unstoppable world was in the making; and not surprising, out of this ferment great new leaders emerged, to happily and productively channel our inchoate energies and our striving passions. Those who were there at these well-springs of change can never forget the amazement of those days.

In this “global conversation” a program set up by the inexhaustibly wealthy and committed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was having a profound effect. Recognizing the fundamental importance of the young people of the world being able to talk to each other with deep understanding, they started a vast program to teach English, as a universal common language, to children everywhere. Compelling children’s TV and computer programs and games, films, dvds, reading materials—all in English—were targeted at children the world over, starting in their very earliest years. Thus, by the time the children were teenagers they were able to handle the English language, in speaking, reading, and writing, almost as another mother tongue. It had rapidly become, already by 2040, the very foundation of a new “global village” where, as in Genesis, the “people have all one language…and now nothing can be restrained from them that they have imagined to do.”

That this developing dominance of English presaged the eventual death of all other languages and their literatures, and ultimately the very cultural values that they defined, was a particularly painful by-product of the unification of the world. It was an unassailable requirement—in fact, an inevitable fact—that the unified world would have, and would have to have, “all one language”, as surely as it would have to have a single government. Indeed, when we look back now to the prescient writings of the “futurists”—the creators of “Star Wars”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”—we realize that the world to come that they envisaged was founded upon these very inescapable requirements that we, encumbered by pride and privilege, refused to see. Blinded by our waving flags, hiding behind our iron fences, and arguing greedily in a confusion of tongues that our souls could never understand, we were too trapped in our own past to reach out for the promise of the future lying before us.

If we are going to get into our proper future, we must have a single tongue. But this is not something that we can choose; it is chosen for us by the powers of history. And as the world converges upon (or as) as single village—passport not required—we can and must finally all talk together. Who, in America today, is saddened by the loss of the Ojibwa or Sioux languages or even the unstoppable dying-away of the Navajo tongue? Or moving south, who is seriously concerned about rescuing Mayan or Aztec from the trash-heap of linguistic history, to be picked over only by the professors? It will necessarily be the same, in the end, with French and Portuguese and Chinese and Japanese and Bantu and all of the other confusing and separating languages of the world. Even today, how many Eskimos or Dutchmen would trouble to write their memoirs in their own language, if they would aspire to a significant audience?

If, as we once feared, Al Qaeda was going to take over the world—we took this very seriously after the staggering disasters of 2014 and 2018—the language that we all would have to speak and write (and eventually deeply love) would surely be Arabic. But this was not to be. English happened to triumph. It happened to be there at the crucial moment, when the world changed; and of course it had a great head-start, because of the political and cultural and economic dominance of the USA itself, and of the computer culture that it founded. Eventually—despite the loss of all the beautiful languages that we know today—we will have a single language incredibly enriched by its assimilation of words and concepts from all of the dying tongues that, in effect, nourish it. The dictionary will be awesome, for it will incorporate all of the ideas of the world. And no one, again, will have to struggle to learn—and finally fail to learn—the various languages that they are told they “need”, and never truly comprehend.

In the midst of all this ferment, both bitter and sweet, the Visionaries had sent forth another edict. As the many nations of the world gradually and grudgingly, but finally helplessly, gave up their armaments, and with them, increasingly, their national integrities, it became obvious to all that some central controlling force was essential to monitor this sea-change in international relationships. While the arsenals of the world, although rapidly diminishing, were still able to be effective, the old confrontational stance, that had kept us at war-and-peace before was still somewhat effective. Nations still honored each others’ fences, even though those fences were starting to fall down, and repairs were obviously disallowed.

The Visionaries had insisted from the start upon a centralized global police force, empowered by the possession of the significant arsenal that they had authorized UNESCO (the new and now effective UNESCO!) to develop from the most hi-tech (non-nuclear) weapons that were otherwise being unrelentingly destroyed. This, along with newly established global courts, would provide the power to settle the many disputes that could no longer be adjudicated by war in this startling new future when all of the old and revered national boundaries were being shattered. When one realizes that the resources of the world, not only as a result of the Visionaries’ demands, but of an accumulating global consensus, were now inevitably going to be shared—power and privilege being redefined on bases no longer primarily reflecting the prerogatives of personal or national or corporate wealth--one today must look back with amazement at the very fact that our changing civilization made it through this awesome ravine, littered as it was with the wreck of nations. But make it we did.

Needless to say, this transformation of the world was not done easily. UNESCO, now for the first time in its vacillating history, now had both vast power and a significantly developing program for global change, and could finally act. But, even with the tidal force created by the gathering support of the young people of the world, the overweening and anonymous domination by the Visionaries was still the crucial factor in the traumatic changing of the old world for the new. Letting nothing interrupt the global commitments of UNESCO and the surging student movement, the Visionaries wielded their power like a chastening sword—indeed as if from a unseen god on high. When the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion together marched, a million strong, on Washington DC to demand that UNESCO’s programs be disbanded, they were told that Washington would be blown up if they did not leave. So they did what you would have done, in the face of what they now knew was an all too credible threat. Similarly, when the Visionaries coercive program was becoming global, various other countries made an abortive attempt to stand up against the humanitarian ruthlessness of the implacable “terrorists”. Little Switzerland, overly proud of its never-soiled military establishment, insisted on keeping it; but balanced against the destruction of Zurich, they rapidly gave in. Only Colombia was adamant; at least until Bogota was, according to schedule, obliterated.

Remarkably, this very solution to the threat of unleashed nuclear power—this requirement for global disarmament—that the world has finally accepted, was precisely that proposed by Einstein, agonized as he was for having played a part in loosing such a vast potential for destruction upon the world. Recognizing that "the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking" and that therefore, as nuclear technology develops "we are drifting toward a catastrophe beyond conception", Einstein insisted upon the need to establish an “armed peace” under a “supranational military authority”. So, after all these years, the world has finally, even if unwillingly, come back to that realistic humanitarian’s own grudging recommendation for its survival. The only thing that he did not say was that in a fenceless future, the very concept of the nation was obsolete; but if he could figure out that E=mc2 he must have known this too.

After much understandable contention, the establishment of such a “(centralized) military authority” became the most crucial initiative of the United Nations; or, we might better say, the United Non-nations!. In any case, it was from this single stable power-center that what was to be known as the “Program for the New World” could be developed. Needless to say, the situation of UNESCO, long an ineffective global debating society, with all of its members in arrears, had now dramatically changed. Under its startling new dispensation, it had been given a new life, its authority now based on the global dominance of the Visionaries, with their focused and insistent expectations for mankind. Power and priority was now no longer automatically based on one’s arsenals. Power and priority now depended upon something far more akin to moral force and intellectual energy.

I should mention, though I don’t know much about the processes involved, how the great foundations—those storehouses of the “wealth of nations” contributed so materially to the structuring of our new world. This was the more admirable because the days of personal privilege, in this changing world, were clearly doomed. But for the present, and with a remarkable prescience, they turned their energies and their resources toward furthering the coherent establishment of UNESCO’s authority. With its (previously) inadequate funding, and even more inadequate governmental authority, UNESCO needed the imposition not only of carefully planned programs for its new governmental responsibilities, but the funds to carry out the vast programs of change that now were envisaged. This was something that the still recalcitrant nations of the world could by no means authorize as quickly and as well. So the great foundations—at least those that recognized and accepted the fact that a new age was dawning—contributed their efforts and their funds too in a way that we so gratefully honor today—these very days when their vast resources have now finally been merged into the needs of the common good.

I must also mention the significant role played by the burgeoning supporters of the notable “green revolution”, with their recognition of the needs not only of the people of the earth but of the earth itself. The implication of their initiatives was in the end the transformation of society, and of the requirement for societal change and sacrifice. Needless to say, the dramatic transformation of the world that the Visionaries envisioned went far beyond that of the “greens”, but their support in the end turned out to be of great importance, since the people of the world realized that the beautiful residence was verging on the edge of crisis; and if not controlled with reason and compassion, this crisis would be the end of all we loved.

Thus did the “Coalition of Peoples” develop, its programs structured with a new emphasis on consensus, to deal with the complex problems of building a new world. Despite Einstein’s speaking of a “supranational” controlling authority, the end of nations and of national integrity was now already a developing fact. In the world of the future, nations would have become a thing of the past. All of those invisible fences, as well as the embarrassing walls with which we sometimes replaced them, would finally come down. And with—as the years went on—the whole world speaking together in the same language, the potentials of the future more and more were becoming not only a matter of hope but of expectation. It was as if the radiant energies of youth, at last directed with both passion and conviction, had finally found their focus—and the focus was the world. Overseen by a powerful and exuberantly optimistic center, the complex problems of religious toleration, of the sharing of wealth and privilege, and of the stigmas of race and even of learning, all began to be subsumed in the excitement of realizing the kind of world of which the best of the earth’s people had always dreamed.

Although the unburdening of the prerogatives of power and privilege, as nation after nation—sacrificing their very nationhood—willingly, or unwillingly, joined our developing community, we have by now entered up a world of seemingly inexhaustible potential in which all can find delight and hope. No one is pretending that this was an easy passage. The increasingly nationless nations and the nationless persons within them were sometimes heartlessly wrenched by the turbulence of change. But what great transformation of the world has not been done without a consequent agony?

If you ask my people today—you know from my name that I am a Muslim, and (to the praise of Allah!) we are spread all over the world—if you ask most Muslims today about the origins of their deep belief, many will explain how their ancestors were swept up (but often after being beaten down) in the great tide of the Muslim diaspora. They had but little choice, but now can only praise this fact, and the exclusive eternal future that, at least in their mind, it promises. If you ask an American Indian today, whose ancestors died so cruelly on the plains, to take you to his rawhide tent, you will instead discover that he has a fine condominium in Boston (the city happily escaped destruction) and that his son has just been admitted to Harvard. And those whose ancestors were so unthinkably shackled and starved on the slave ships coming out of Africa; are they unhappy that some of their family, at least, survived the vicious voyage? We are what we are today, because almost universally, we were dominated by visions of a future that we neither asked for nor wanted. But what we did not want became, as it turned out, the very substance of our dreams. We yield, we adapt, we transform. Perhaps, after all, we are in the hands of the gods.

Since we are no longer wasting our birthright upon the wastefulness of protecting our outworn national integrities, we can face the future now with the force of a new focus. People today cannot believe the past; they cannot believe that while most of the world was once living, often in pain, at the very margin of existence, the vastness of our resources was being spent—was being wasted—on the development of staggering arsenals that, in the ultimate analysis, we could never use. Indeed, it was the very thought of using our arsenals against each other that cast its blackening shadows across a world that might otherwise have been filled with light. How could we live so long with the thought that we might at any time destroy each other? What was the point of all of these contentions of the past that we read about: US and Iran, Israel and Palestine (now of course long gone), Pakistan and India, the Brazilian revolution, the decimation of North and South Korea, and all of those horrible events in Africa that apparently no one really cared about in any case?

The chief good that finally came from all of this wastage was that it provided the possibility, perhaps the inevitability, of its own destruction. In the end the very power that we had so selfishly and obsessively gathered turned out, in one of the ironies of history, to be used against itself. That is, the forces of destruction were ultimately used for the domination of the world, and for its corollary disarmament. And thus was the world finally freed from a fear of itself. And thus was the world finally filled with hope and expectation. That, happily, is the world in which we live today.