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[ba-unrev-talk] Fwd: [issues] Mid-East and what we are missing

>From: Paul Werbos <pwerbos@nsf.gov>
>Cc: issues@isss.org
>First, I apologize for not picking up on some very interesting threads
>of conversation in this group. Aside from a zillion deadlines and glitches...
>there is also the old Quaker notion that folks like me should sometimes 
>only speak when really
>moved to speak, to avoid creating noise.
>A reporter recently asked: "If you had to spell out just two big things we 
>are missing that
>we need to pay more attention to, what would they be?" In a way, I fumbled.
>There are a hundred concrete usable things that need more attention. Most 
>of them I try
>to address to the relevant concrete people. So I gave some generalities.
>But in a way... what I personally feel are the biggest vacua right now are 
>(1) some reassessments
>of quantum foundations -- unglamorous for now, and hard to rise to, but 
>important and neglected issues;
>(2) certain aspects -- related to spiritual foundations. There is a lot of 
>TALK about both, but still some holes.
>Item (2) leads back to the Middle East.
>One reason why certain areas are relatively neglected is simply that it is 
>hard to socially support
>a deep enough conversation, that people understand, that doesn't look 
>completely crazy...
>the social rules that exclude the discussion are very understandable... 
>and yet... the exclusion may be
>very costly. It is strange how hard-core realism and hard-core mysticism 
>are the two areas which
>may be suffering the most... both at the same time...
>OK. Those are excuses. Now the example. I hope no one starts being 
>reminded of the Nash movie, when I
>start to make some really crazy-sounding suggestions. I claim they are not 
>crazy. But I cannot prove it to
>you. So if it seems totally nuts -- please forgive, PLEASE recall that 
>Heisenberg, Schrodinger and De Broglie were JUST as
>crazy in these areas... and please note I am very clear this is not an NSF 
>point of view, and that I have the ability to act as if
>I were not "crazy" at all... but... seeing something... I feel some duty 
>to say at least somewhere what I think I see....
>A simplified claim: "Al Queida is God's gift to America, in exactly the 
>same way that AIDS is his gift to
>Africa (and some other folks) and the Black Plague was his gift to Europe 
>awhile back... Not a punishment,
>not a diabolical force, not even remotely his hand... but his gift. A gift 
>that will keep giving... due to a Will
>or Mind that cannot be stopped by any military forces whasoever."
>By "God," I do not refer to the strings of definitions and dogmas one 
>finds in the central apparatuses of any of the
>organized churches of the world. (But you might say I am biased. As 
>someone once said,
>"I do not belong to any organized religion; I am a Quaker.") I refer to a 
>sort-of-entity sort-of-phenomenon which
>is far more complex and far more subtle, though not quite so 
>unintelligible as is alleged by those who would discourage
>all efforts at deeper understanding.
>The Black Plague led to great suffering here... but the suffering passed, 
>and it led to economic fundamentals
>and a loosening of central control critical to the amazing growth soon 
>after. (I am reminded of the studies showing
>that the bombing destruction of Japan and Germany was crucial to the very 
>rapid economic growth which followed
>not as long thereafter. Productivity growth has often been higher in 
>depressions than in periods of GNP
>growth. Barnacles accumulate, unfortunately...) Likewise, AIDS clearly 
>addresses demographic problems which
>were on the verge of eliminating all hopes of rapid economic growth and 
>environmental sustainability..
>in many places; one hopes that these problems will be addressed with 
>self-discipline or with condoms rather than death,
>but factors far beyond our control or our technology have presented those 
>three choices; and efforts to avoid the choices
>through technological fixes... have often been frustrated..
>And then there is the gift to America (which, like AIDS, is not ONLY for 
>one nation...)...
>In my crazy view... if one tries to use UNASSISTED technology to fight the 
>pressures which exist in the..
>collective unconscious? Gaia? the Mind of God? (bearing in mind there is 
>real intelligence there)...
>one may expect to lose in unexpected ways. The situation in the MidEast is 
>a very complex
>of SEVERAL very deep and powerful global gradients or pressures...
>On the positive side, of course, Al Queida is fundamentally alien and 
>antithetical to "God." They are full
>of wild and intense beliefs.. in their own heads. As many have said... it 
>will be great pathos when the suicide
>bombers discover their fate is more like the Buddhist image of the kingdom 
>of hungry ghosts....
>Their continued existence -- AND the undeniable spiritual force of some of 
>their leaders and supporters -- is
>not due to any real foundation for their goals and beliefs. Their is 
>essentially no hope for them, on the spiritual level.
>they are very much like the traditional black magicians, whose fate is 
>just a matter of time.
>But why a matter of time? Why not immediate? Why are they not "fried" 
>immediately, like the low-level ill-fated
>US "black" programs years ago to harness "psi powers" in a black-magic 
>sort of way?
>Because they serve a greater purpose, in the same way that AIDS viruses do.
>They put pressure on the US and other places, which in a sense are tending 
>to be frozen at another level in the
>(oversimplified but suggestive) Buddhist system of levels. In some very 
>subtle way, we are neglecting
>the needs of spiritual growth... it is hard to say why... but the pressure 
>from the MidEast has reminded us of that.
>Yes, God calls for Love far more than Hate... for Life over Death... 
>yet... somehow... without these pressures..
>we seem to fall into something more like ice and bureaucracy... In the 
>immediate wake of 9/11, we rose
>above that to some measurable degree... and the virus seemed to abate... 
>but there has been something of a backsliding
>in many ways, in many levels.... and it may take a long, long time for us 
>to figure
>out and accept and handle all this. Just as it will take Africa awhile to 
>adapt to AIDS. In the larger scheme
>of things, it may all be a matter of necessary growing pains. But if we 
>think those pains are taken
>care of, and we can now just move our attention elsewhere, relying solely 
>on technology
>and nothing else... we will be deeply fooling ourselves. This gradient 
>will be with us for quite some time.
>But not all gradients here are so bad.
>For example... the principles of Love and Life... the natural tendency for 
>humans to want to grow in understanding..
>the pressure for more balance between male and female, including of course 
>greater female education...
>these to are very powerful and very deep gradients. If we truly ride and 
>support these gradients,
>there will be some hope for us. Some unexpected breaks. As is the old 
>adage "God takes care of fools,
>drunks and the US of A" -- which is perhaps more true in times when the 
>USA is more true to its
>original heritage from places like Pennsylvania. But if we allow ourselves 
>to be overly biased by ego and nationalism
>and black-and-white nonempathetic views of other cultures.. by misplaced 
>hopes for quick fixes from
>beltway bandits... well, we'll be like those folks in Africa who eschew 
>both self-discipline and safe sex.
>We are called to strive towards a bit more self-discipline than our 
>adversaries... and we are called not to sink to their level..
>None of this tells us how to set up security arrangements in 
>Israel/Palestine. That's important. But in many
>ways, those are actually more solvable and smaller problems. Think about 
>that. It is sobering, is it not?
>Yet some of us must also foster mathematical, scientific understanding and 
>develop those technologies which ARE
>needed as ONE part of the larger sustainability  equation. I must now go 
>back to that...
>Best of luck,
>    Paul W.
>    (01)