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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Reality and Illusion 

Jeff,

You're right: there is a great deal that is happening or that has
happened for which we should be grateful. In many ways, we are at a peak
of human achievement.
This applies not only to material things but to our conceptions of
freedoms and individual rights, the rule of law, concern for our fellow
men in non-racist terms and so on.
Many of our moral concepts are embraced in a way that they never have
been so widely before.
For this we must be grateful; but at the same time, we must ask how
sincere this embrace is. I did think, after World War Two, that we were
on the right road to peaceful change and to a world that was free of
violence and full of working together with others for the benefit of the
whole human community.
The Cold War was a blot - but also, contrarily, a motivation for our
efforts.
Until the end of the 1960s, I think that our record - the record of
those who looked for a better postwar world - was good, at least
compared with earlier periods.
The record since has been less comforting.
We have slipped ever more terrifyingly towards what I have called a
"multiple abyss." The world is armed to the teeth as never before, with
weapons of terrifying capacity to destroy, we have many failed states
that threaten strategic and security stability, we have economic
policies that selfishly promise economic collapse on a worldwide basis -
a collapse that could be even more catastrophic in its political and
strategic implications than that of the 1930s - and we seem to have lost
the capacity to produce political, social, economic and strategic
leaders who can do anything but blunder blindly towards disaster.
We should not slip into the error of denouncing as "doomsayers" those
who define the reality of the dangers that confront us. We have made
enormous scientific and technological advances - quite incredible
advances in almost every scientific - including medical - field, even in
the last decade.
What we must not do is throw away the benefits that these advances offer
by being blind to the dangers that arise from our failure to make
advances of similar significance in our political, social, economic and
strategic understanding and our consequent policies.
In a world of immense and increasing violence and widespread want, I
have written that we need "a new vision, a new image, a new
consciousness of self. We will get it. Our looking-glass fantasy refuses to
believe that we won't. But it had better come quickly - before
catastrophe, from the demise of dreams, beats it to the finish line."
You might like to read "Uncle Rupert." I think he is the sort of man of
whom we stand greatly in need: someone addicted to freedom and a
satisfying life who sees what is needed and does what he can about it.
I agree with you that we should be bright and smile as much as we can.
We should never abandon hope or confidence in our own capacity to
determine a better future for ourselves and others. But we have to work
on hope. We have to build securely on confidence. We have to save our
best and biggest smiles for the day that we really know we are headed
towards a more peaceful, more prosperous, more cooperative world and not
away from it.


James Cumes


Jeffa wrote:
James,



I'm overjoyed that you share these interesting articles with us, now
that I have you I can cancel all my magazine subscriptions, but all you
send are doom and gloom articles about what is wrong with the world.
Wouldn't it be quite useful to creating victory over want if we knew
what was going right in the world?



Bright regards,

-=Jeff=-

----------------------

Jeff's website: http://www.souriant.com

(Jeff is a bright living in Moscow, Russia

and part of a growing constituency of Brights

at http://www.the-brights.net)

A bright is a person with a naturalist as

opposed to a supernaturalist world view.

Brights base their ethics and actions on

a naturalistic worldview.



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