Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Most Significant Moment in Human History: The Bomb

Humans naturally want to be free, and it is right to celebrate moments in history where our forefathers bought our freedom with courage and blood.  But there's a dark side to human nature that I think has more impact on the species than the good things: our propensity for violence.

After World War I, the League of Nations was created to avoid another "war to end all wars," because of how horrifyingly massive the body count was.  By 1914, humans had developed ways to slaughter their enemies by the hundreds of thousands.  Humanity realized that technology had finally caught up with our bloodlust, and the result was devastating.

Of course though, we knew deep down that we'd never be able to extinct ourselves.  There were just too many people on the planet.  Even if another great war struck, there'd still be humans left to repopulate and prosper.  But then, in the mid 1940's, we changed that.

Creating and detonating the first atomic bomb changed humanity forever.  Finally, humans had discovered the means to completely destroy themselves forever.  We, as a species, can now extinct ourselves should someone choose to do so.

That moment in history tells us so much about ourselves.  For starters, it tells us that we're willing to even explore the very avenue of our own destruction.  A prudent mind might think "wouldn't it be best to just let that be, and never develop extinction technology?"  But in our desperation, we did it anyway.

The way I see it is that once the bomb was created, we were faced with an immediate choice: destroy ourselves or press on.  We are still faced with that choice.

Isn't it funny that we have the means to destroy ourselves
but not the means to end child starvation?
So which way do you think humanity will go?  Will we eventually wholly reject that technology?  Sure, most people already do, but the species as a whole has not rejected it.  Or will we eventually just annihilate our entire existence?

Given that human beings are incredibly violent, selfish, myopic, and intollerant, I think we're pretty well screwed.  Human beings will destroy themselves in the future.  We don't listen to each other.  Everyone is "always right," about everything, ever.  We're all so right that we would be willing to die for our beliefs.  We'd even be willing to kill for our beliefs. 

Say what you want, but until we become "one world," i.e. the many peoples of the many nations become one people with the singular goal of promoting the prosperity and perpetuation of the entire species, we are on the path to destroy ourselves.  The atomic bomb beats every single event in human history, because the bomb marked the beginning of the end.


Silverfiddle said...

It will never be one world. What a horrifying prospect. Imagine the scope and scale of global tyranny it would take to achieve such a thing.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?"
-- Robert Browning

That also quote also has a dark side.

Human development, technology, fire... They are all morally neutral phenomena, but in the hands of man can either do great good or great evil depending on the hearts and minds of those who wield them. Thus the need for systems of morality.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, the atomic bomb is not a "morally neutral" phenomenon. And heaven is a myth.

You are a tribal person. You like tribalism. You believe your way of life is superior to others, and other ways of life are inherently a threat to your's. And heaven - religion - is just yet more tribalism.

What Jack was saying, I believe, was that when people get past tribalism - when we in our minds, our cultures, our societies, become "one world," not a tyrannical world empire, but when we think of ourselves as one people - the propensity for violence against one another will diminish.

It seems an inarguable point to me. As true as the sun in the sky.


Jack Camwell said...

The bomb is most certainly not morally neutral. It was created for one purpose: devastation.

And I'm not advocating 1984 one world crap Silver. Part of the problem is that too many people think that the only to achieve one world is by forcing everyone to do the bidding of some tyrrany.

The whole point of one world is that humans, as a species, come to a consensus as to what is the best way for all humanity to prosper and survive into the future.

There's two different kinds of people who believe one world is impossible:

1. You believe that humans will never get past their differences, and you base that off of your own unwillingness to bend.

2. You realize people are too stupid to realize that the survival of the species is more important than your own "right" worldview.

I'm the latter.

Jersey McJones said...

Jack, I like the way you think. I don't always agree with you, but I like the way you think.


Anonymous said...

Jackie, I had a long comment written out but after reading it I felt that it would be counter-productive to this discussion to post it. I have a lot I can say on the subject and while I feel it is critical people wake up, I also feel that shoving it in people's face is not the way to do so.

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: You said...
Say what you want, but until we become "one world," ...

How would you get there without the "1984 crap?" You need to flesh out this "global consensus" theory of yours. It is still too nebulous to have a serious discussion about.

You also say there is a dark side to human nature, and I agree, which is why I believe we will never be "one world."

Travel the world and you will see just how far away from that we are.

And God bless those who are different from us; they are entitled to live how they want.

I didn't mean to imply an atomic bomb was morally neutral, but rather horrible objects themselves are not the threat, but the horrible thoughts and plans hatched by human beings.

Pol Pot's savage butchery killed more people with sticks, knives and guns that have atomic weapons.

Mao killed upwards of 80 million, all with very low-tech methods.

That's my point.

Jack Camwell said...

Well, getting there without 1984 type stuff would pretty much require that people would have to be willing to just let others live their lives as they choose, so long as they're not hurting anyone else in the process.

Why would we all need to be the same in order to have one world? I live a very different life than my neighbors do, and we don't fight or kill each other over it. Yes, diversity is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't have to lead to violence. I know there are people who disagree with that, but those people are idiots.

I have done some travel. While in the Navy I was able to visit Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Bahrain and the UAE (Dubai specifically).

I'm not saying that we can be one world. In fact, I said that we can't. I guess I'm saying that we humans are going to kill each other.

manapp99 said...

It's not the inhabitants of various countries or regions that cannot live together peacefully. It is the leaders who cannot. In order to hold a country together leaders have turned to many divisive tactics such as nationalism and religion to make it's people believe that they are superior to others and therefore need to eliminate those that are inferior. If you teach hatred of others to your people you instill this idea that even though their lives would suck even more if you were a (fill in the blank). In Texas they used to have a saying. It went something like:

Hell...I may be a dumb white trash redneck Texan but at least I'm not from Arkansas.

Allowing for someone being lower on the totem pole than yourself may increase your self esteem but it requires you to denigrate another. Leaders of many countries actually encourage this kind of behavior so that it's populace will focus it's rage at poor life conditions on others like the western devil USA or the Jews (ever the convenient scapegoat) or the Mexicans or the Indians or Pakistanis etc. Anybody but the leader that is probably most responsible for your conditions.

Sadly I think Jack is right. Given the way things work it is unlikely that we are ever going to stop killing each other. But Silver is correct in saying that we don't need no stinking high tech killing devices like bombs to kill masses of people. Just good old low tech hatred.

Jack Camwell said...

"we don't need no stinking high tech killing devices like bombs to kill masses of people. Just good old low tech hatred."

The bomb has the potential to extinct the entire species of humanity, and potentially most organic life on the planet.

Before the bomb was developed, we were not capable of doing that.

Anonymous said...

Please use correct English. What you meant to say was EXTINGUISH ourselves.

If we were able to EXTINGUISH ourselves, we would become EXTINCT.

EXTINCT is a noun.

EXTINGUISH is the verb that goes with it.

This business of using nouns as verbs and vice versa is deplorable.

I'm sorry to correct you, but SOMEONE has to do it. Since playing fast and loose with the language became 'permissible," our language is all but LOST.

Contrary to popular opinion using correct, standard English is NOT condescending, bossy, stuffy, belligerent, haughty, or "not with it."

What passes for English these days might as well be dog dirt in my never humble opinion.

Thank you, and a HAPPY EASTER to you.

~ FreeThinke

Jack Camwell said...

"Extinct" is an adjective, not a noun. "Extinction" is a noun.

And the "business of using nounds as verbs," is not deplorable. There's a name for words like that: gerund.

Playing fast and loose with language begins at the very inception of a language. Just because language evolves doesn't mean it is destroyed in the process.

And it's not as if I've got the worst grammar and syntax on the web, nor is the case that I do not know how to use English properly.

My style may not be poetic or particularly literary, but I'm not going for a Pulitzer here.

And besides, you understood what I meant, didin't you? The purpose of verbal language is to effectively communicate an idea to another person. I think even with the phrase "extinct ourselves," I still clearly communicated the idea.

Or is the purpose of verbal language to chain our minds to particular rules of grammar and syntax?

Silverfiddle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silverfiddle said...

I think it's a race to see if we birth control ourselves out of existence or nuke ourselves.

I would put my money on demographic extinction.

It would take at least two countries on different continents with thousands of multi-megaton nukes and intercontinental delivery systems to actually destroy all human existence.

Consider that the largest soviet nuke was capable of incinerating most of the state of Colorado. Of course, you have the radiation and the fallout that would kill those in the surrounding states...

And then you have certain geographical areas that could survive as pockets of existence due to prevailing trade wind patters protecting them from the fallout. If they could not subsist on indigenous fauna and flora, they would eventually die out as well.

So yeah, we hold the seeds to our own destruction... We're bastards, ain't we?

Happy Easter!

Jersey McJones said...

Guys, guys! Things aren't as bad as they seem.

That's the point of Easter! Right?

When things are at what seem to be their worst, man can rise above and make a better world of it. That is evolution. That is Easter!

Things seemed bad to the early Christians as Rome and the Middle East entered a new era. Greece was recast but still the cultural center of the world, and their world was split between powerful empires. As was the Holy Land.

The writers of the Bible knew all this, of course, and so they presented a more decent and kind way of thinking than the big powers were offering. Yes, Christianity was corrupted through the years, but it has stood an amazing test of time. That is because at it's core Christianity is a-political. I really believe that.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Jack. I shouldn't have gone off half cocked.

Both of us were wrong, and both of us were partly right.

Extinct is not a noun, but it isn't a verb either.

Let's accept that, and carry on from there.

I hope you had a pleasant day yesterday.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

That is because at it's core Christianity is a-political.

Wow. I agree with Jersey!

Jersey McJones said...

Silver... Thank You.


jez said...

That one world just got a step closer :)

Anonymous said...

At present I am in two minds on some of these issues raised.

For a start I believe a single-minded peaceful world is utopian. Most certainly one-government is a pipe-dream in my opinion. Though that sounds pessimistic I do believe that eventually there will be an almost peaceful world in the sense of no wars but crime will occur where there are people, it is because in everyone of us there is a fight between good and evil (sinfulness, etc) and that is just a matter of course.

The bomb, however, is a tool and nothing more. Yes it is the worst and most violent of tools but nevertheless it is a tool and it is the man (or society) that orders its use that is responsible. For that reason I disagree with Jack that The Bomb is not the most significant event in history nor does it represent an end. MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) has assured that The Bomb is a deterent that in many ways is becoming a costly, unnecessary tool. If I had to chose what are the most siginficant events in history, it would come down to what has impacted us the most - The Bomb has made no difference to the very vast majority of humanity. Banking, Organised Religion, Navigation, Combustion, Gun Powder and The Internet have had more impact on the lives of humanity than The Bomb. Sorry if I sound like Sid Mier's Civilization, but I think it reflects my view.

Good subject

Damien Charles