Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cradling the World

OYAYI SA MUNDO
Aking mundo, ihimlay ang pagal mong katawan
Sa duyan ng kalawakan.

Hayaang maghilom ang mga sugat
Sa 'yong dibdib na likha ng mga tao

At itigil ng 'sang saglit ang iyong paggalaw
'Pagkat sa muli mong pag-inog
Ay may bago nang buhay.

(Noel G. Cabangon)

My translation (not so literal):

LULLABY FOR THE WORLD
Rest your tired limbs, oh my world
In the cradle of the universe.

Let the wounds
Inflicted on your breast by men
Heal and close.

And tarry a moment from moving
For when you turn again once more
A new life will be born.

On the bus to work today I passed by a rubble patch along one of downtown Khobar’s busy streets. It was a sign of different things to come, and the memories of the building except for those of its former occupants are now being erased from the earth.

Just a stone’s throw away from our apartment the foundations of the Al-Shula Mall that survived being transformed to ash still bear the mute testimony of how buildings are so vulnerable to the test of time; but more so, to the current tenuousness of humanity.

Adjacent to it the Park Hotel, once a landmark for travelers who take the bus to the airport, has been obliterated and the rubble has been bulldozed. Even the earth has been newly-turned. When I pass by that intersection of the Dhahran Road and Prince Turki street, the emptiness of it for one used to it is close to being obscene.

News from the British Museum announces that the curators have assembled a collection of antiquities to document the forgotten empire of the Persians - from the rise of Cyrus to the absorption of the Persian Empire by the Macedonians under Alexander. There are, so they say, very unique pieces that indicate the contributions of that empire to Western civilization.

I wonder, though, in this new generation sorely lacking in a long-term, much more a communal, memory, what will we leave to those who will succeed us.

Proof positive in that where the messaging is instantaneous people think less about what they say and what they would leave. There is always the recall feature in your Outlook program. There is always the "delete" command to cull unwanted messages.

Even in the world of cyberspace where people gather in community we are all but little bits and pieces before becoming true memories. Ironically, however, a person who doesn't exist as a number is considered not to have existed. All we are to other people then is JUST ANOTHER NUMBER.

Are we, then, simply statistics to be filed away in some supercomputer's memory crunch?

Meantime, people continue on consuming - people as markets lapping up food, fuel, supplies, entertainment, clothing - the rush for new markets now is just as bloodthirsty as those races over stretches of ocean. All the while our finite resources are beginning to be consumed at an alarming rate without prospect of replenishment or renewal.

*****

Isaac Asimov puts this well enough, and I will paraphrase him:

Major premise: The Earth's volume is finite.
Minor Premise: The total volume of coal, oil, and other natural resources on the Earth is less than the total volume of the Earth.

Conclusion: The volume of the Earth's natural resources is finite.

Major Premise: The volume of the Earth's natural resources is finite.
Minor Premise: We are using part of those resources every day.

Conclusion: We will use those resources up eventually.
*****
Science tells us that Nature has a way of culling off populations - when resources are few, living things in an ecosystem will fight over them.

Sociology tells us that the natural recourse with the haves and have-nots is that the rich get richer, and the poor become poorer. And that when the tipping point comes, the have-nots turn the tables on the haves - often bloodily. Which then sets up the normal cycle of oppressor and oppressed.

First major premise: The world population is expanding at a faster rate, and that growth is mostly in the poorer countries.
Second major premise: Demand for resources has raised their prices, making the rich countries even richer.
Minor premise: The simplest way for the dispossessed to gain respect is through violence.

Conclusion: We are on the verge of another major clash.

Someone out there must be doing the math.

What legacy do I leave when my ideas fade or this electronic network disappears?

Who would remember those who have fallen in the dark years of the dictatorship, those martyrs who died without seeing the dawn? Would it all matter in this new age?
*****

I'm in a dark mood today, as if I am marshaling all my emotional forces to some conclusion... as to what it is, let me stop awhile and think of it, and it will come to me.

1 comment:

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