Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On the Brink

In a look at how war is being played out on CNN, Amba of AmbivaBlog has assembled a disturbing post that is like postmodern art—a new, deeper meaning created out of otherwise bland cultural fabric. A truth uncovered in the white noise.

That truth? We are not in the best of times. A reality Amba conveys as she ends the post with Yeats’ famous poem, The Second Coming.

I am sure the current Israeli-Hezbollah war has left many of us feeling apprehensive. Will this escalate? Are we deluding ourselves into thinking the conflict between Western values and Radical Islam will end without a world war? And, do we as a people have the strength and vision necessary to capably resolve the growing crises of the world?

That last question is as, if not more important than any other we may ask ourselves. In Amba’s post, the incongruity between fluffy-pseudo news and unyieldingly real news is starkly clear and truly unsettling. These times call for a serious, mature people—but we may not qualify.

Of course, my fears could be silly. It is entirely possible that all generations, in their short time here, feel as if the whole world is on the brink. Is it human nature to view our own times as the end times (if not THE end, at least the end of the world as we know it)?

We all live our lives perched on the precipice, knowing a swift wind will soon rise and send us tumbling. Is it any surprise that we believe our world is in the same precarious situation? Are our fears the same fears our ancestors once had? And, if so, did not the world go on after them, changed but hardly ended?

Yet, even as I write the above, I am not particularly comforted by it. I simply cannot shake the feeling that we are truly, truly, yes this time, truly on the brink. That weak wills, calcified minds and cruel hearts conspire to take us all down.

I would be depressed if not for my relentless belief that greatness will rise and pull us away from the cliff's edge. I see the superficiality in our culture but do not believe we are submerged by it. I see the insincerity and selfishness in our leaders, but do not believe they control us. I see the bitter, absurd divides in our culture but do not believe the rifts are irreparable.

I see us near the brink, yes, but not so weak that only one swift wind could end us. I think we can pull back. I think the fortitude is there. All we need to do is rise to the occasion. Easier said than done, but it would be foolish to think it impossible.


Anonymous Clint said...

Very well said, Alan. Great post.

7:33 PM  
Blogger cakreiz said...

Excellent. I tend toward grim pessimism on this issue. We're engaged in much wishful thinking. We hope that the intractable problem that is radical Islam will wain in the face of reason. It's false hope. The radicals remain emboldened and persistent. We discount Ahmadinejad's wild, hate-filled genocidal rhetoric, ignoring the stark reality of his words. The future prospects of peace are grim. And it's not about Bush or Hillary. It's about a branch of Islam gone wild.

6:53 AM  
Blogger cakreiz said...

I truly believe that most Senators, Dems and Reps, understand and appreciate the gravity of the challenge that we face from radical Islam. I'm just not sure Americans want to stare it in the face.

p.s.- that should've been 'wane' above. Another mistake by my editor.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan - the sad part is many in our country truely lack the intestinal fortitude to do what is necessary to confront radical islam. There is no pretty way to deal in violence. Radical islam does not deal in reason. Reason does not work with them. Appeasement, as demonstrated by the Israeli land withdrawals is not sufficient for Radical Islam. Nothing short of the death of every last infidel will suffice for them. How do you reason with a person willing to so easily depart this life and take others with them for a promise of an afterlife with a 1000 virgins? You can't - you can only fight them. Pershing understood this in the Phillipines at the turn of the last century. The Israelis up until now understood this. Swift, unforgiving force unbridled by the "rules of war" is the only thing in the last millenium radical islam has ever bowed down to. I wish the Israelis godspeed in their current undertaking but I fear the leaders they now have do no know this critical lesson and hence will fight a fair fight and will lose. Hezbollah does not fight by rules. Radical islam does not fight by rules - we are all infidels. Ultimately I believe we will have leaders who rise to the challange - but it will take many bloddy acts upon are populace by radical islam to get our society to look past the rules of civilized society and recognize that when dealing with radical islam -only swift unforgiving force (and the necessary violence and carnage that goes along with it) will win the day.

Think how WWII might have turned out if we hadn't done the bombing campaigns in Germany. In today's world and by today's rules - those actions would never occur. Firebombing and carpet bombing whole cities - one can only imagine the outcry from Barbara Streisand and the NYTimes.

9:35 AM  
Blogger 牛五花Orange said...


2:49 AM  

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