“Our world is separating itself into two violently opposed camps – the people v. their failed leadership – and an undeclared war between them will mean the destruction of human society as we know it,” write “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.
AS a teenager I was fascinated by that wonderful book by HG Wells, “The War of the Worlds“.
I re-read it half a dozen times over the years before I rejected the idea that any visitors from outer space would necessarily be bent on taking over our world and destroying the human race.
But recently an even more horrifying thought has been much more difficult to banish. It’s this: our world, it seems, is separating itself into two violently opposed camps – the people v. their failed leadership – and an undeclared war between them will do what Mr Wells’ space invaders could never quite accomplish: the destruction of planet Earth and of human society as we know it.
Yes, I know, that sounds absurdly alarmist, the maunderings of an ageing pessimist, but bear with me for a moment. The evidence is all around us. Indeed, it’s so ubiquitous on our news channels each evening that it’s deceptively like the new normal – that frog in the slowly heating pot who thinks everything’s okay until suddenly it isn’t.
So, what’s driving the heat under our human pot? Well, climate change is the active ingredient. But we could handle that if it were not for the other forces at play, and they’re to be found in the make-up of the human race and our sudden evolution from part of the natural order to the notion that the world and all its creatures are ours to do with what we will.
It’s one of the founding notions of the Christian, Jewish and other Middle Eastern religions: it’s to be found in its purest form in the first book of the Christian Bible – Genesis 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’.”
It’s an invitation to the vandalism that Western society has propagated ever since. And the result is a world in peril.
But it’s not the only mad idea that flows from the biblical source.
Another is close to the heart of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Pentecostal pals. “I believe in miracles”, he cried after his election and he wasn’t speaking in jest or in tongues. He and many like him actually reject the laws of physics when it suits them in favour of the supernatural. They call it “faith” and they make laws to protect their irrationality from the world of science and reason.
Another is nationalism given heavenly blessing by God’s “gift” of Israel to the Israelites, a notion that could hardly be better designed to cause conflict within the human family.
And as climate change puts millions of refugees to flight over land and sea, the whole concept of national borders will be drawn into battle. Just ask Donald Trump and his mythical wall.
But perhaps the most volatile of the explosive forces has much less to do with the ancient creeds. Rather it’s the rising inequality and tyranny that today has millions of protestors in the streets of South America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Hong Kong.
Where next? Where, and how, will it end? More about that next time.