Dorothy van den Honert: A lot of talking, not much listening
Three thousand years is a long time. That’s how long it has been since the Biblical Abraham died at the ripe old age of 175. He had had a much wanted son named Isaac by his beautiful wife, Sarah, and later, at Sarah’s urging, another son by her servant, Hagar, named Ishmael. And lots of people are still suffering from Sarah’s generous act. Isaac was the offspring of Abraham’s (legal) wife, and Ishmael was the offspring of an unmarried (tsk, tsk) woman. So the Jews are still claiming they are legal but that the Arabs are not, and over the course of the years they both claim the same territory and the same rights of inheritance, and eventually the same right to hate each other. Isn’t it astonishing that a grudge can last for 3,000 years?
In the meantime, variations of both groups have multiplied and claimed their own rules, regulations, territory, and variations of the Bible and the Quran. Each book is held to be the word of God and sacred, and each group has developed its own rules of dress, food, and sacred traditions. And the Lord help anyone who disagrees with one of them. A quick look at Google, showed Samaritanism, baha i, Druze, Yazidi, Mandeanism, Shabakism, Zoroastrianism, Sunni, Shiite, Yazidi, Mandeanism, Shabakism and more. Each thinks it has the last word, most have a "book" like the Bible or Quran which you can’t argue with, and firm dress codes and rules of behavior and territory that you better not argue with. For each group, God Himself told them something, and that’s that.
This kindergarten behavior is causing the Middle East mess. Israel has a stockpile of atom bombs, so of course, Iran wants some, too. But I believe that they all know that the first nation dumb enough to use it on another one will likely be blown off the world in a hurry.
For my money, a worse threat to the world is not the arguing of large groups of religious people but those individuals with the super-egos who don’t care a whoop about some invisible God, but want the world to realize that they are god’s right hand man who knows best for everybody. People like Ho Chi Minh, Hitler, Gadhafi, Stalin, Hitler, Robespierre (pick your own poison), and of course, Putin. He is almost in a position right now to start a world war. I doubt that he will, but he is a nerve-racking, stuck-up menace.
Maybe the greatest threat to the continued comfortable existence of people on Earth is not man’s increasing violence at all. The big threat has been sneaking up on us for at least 30 years, quietly, unobtrusively, observed only by people who are trained to observe it. And when they became worried about it as they understood its implication for people, and began, 30 years ago to warn humanity, nobody believed them. People who didn’t want to believe in global warming when they could see what a hard winter it had just been, couldn’t see the difference between climate and weather. So now it is called climate change, which seems to scare people less, but there are still zillions of people who don’t want to recognize it.
I think there are several reasons why this is. First, of course, is the poor quality of science teaching in the United States. Second is the slowness of a lot of the changes. Third, and probably the most significant, is human greed. If your industry is doing quite well, thank you, on a diet of coal, and a change to green technology would cost you a bundle -- well? On the other hand, if you live in the Midwest and have had your house blown down twice in a row, you may be more apt to believe in climate change if it brings violent weather.
A few people have even come to believe it as hurricanes increase in frequency and start wiping out beautiful beach property. It may be hard for some people to believe that a three-degree rise in the temperature of the oceans can wipe out species of fish, masses of corals, and cause huge increases in rainfall. When was the last time you went scuba diving and observed a huge area of corals with their fascinating fish?
A couple of years ago a cute children’s book was published called, "Nobody Listens to Andrew." It was about a little boy who went upstairs after breakfast and found a bear cub in his bed. He went downstairs and told his mom, who told him not to make up stories. So he told the cleaning lady and got the same response.
The last line in the book is "Nobody listens to Andrew." I wonder how many scientists there are in this country named Andrew?
Dorothy van den Honert is an
occasional Eagle contributor.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.