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Fred's Views


Perspective

An artist named Eschler, I believe, created drawings that gave a great 3-D experience. However, on closer examination, his drawings were physical impossibilities, stairs that lead upwards until they joined themselves at the bottom. Water courses that essentially went around in circles, and so on. The point is, that reality is largely a matter of perspective.

When a great tragedy, such as befell the world on September 11, 2001, occurs, it is all too easy to lose our perspective. That's natural and normal. But there also comes a time when we must regain our perspective and carry on. For many people, that time may not yet have arrived.

Seven thousand people may have lost their lives as a result of this tragedy. But hundreds of thousands of people have died in other tragedies, some natural, some man-made. And over 50 million people, worldwide, were casualties of the Second World War. Millions of innocent Jews were slaughtered by the Naxis.

How many thousands may die, innocently or otherwise, as a result of The United States and its allies' attack on Afghanistan in particular and terrorism in general? I am not suggesting that military action should not be taken. As was the case with the Second World War, military action would appear to be absolutely necessary if the blight of terrorism is to be eradicated. Though, as I have stated elsewhere, military action alone will not be enough.

The citizens of the United States and its allies must realize and be prepared to accept the fact that these seven thousand lives may be just the beginning. Hopefully, when the terrorists attempt to strike again, and they will, we will be better prepared and may even be able to thwart their attempts. But lives will be lost. Just how many can not be even guessed at. The terrorists in Afghanistan might be eradicated in a few days, but it could equally take many years. And then what of the next terrorist group?

We must steel ourselves for a long and costly battle.

But life must go on - we hope. However, there lies just out of our perceptions a possible threat far greater than any of the tragedies that have, thus far, befallen us. At any moment. and certainly at SOME moment, our earth will find itself on a collision course with an asteroid or comet so large that humanity itself will be at risk. Unlike the nuclear threat, which can hopefully be controlled by man, this threat is beyond our powers to overcome - unless. If by some miracle we get enough advanced notice of an impending collision, there is a chance (at this point in our technology a very, very slim chance) that we might be able to divert the path of the asteroid or comet and thus save ourselves.

Billions of dollars have been lost along with seven thousand lives. Billions of dollars and unknown lives are still to be spent and/or lost as this battle continues. It must be fought, regardless of the cost. But what about this even greater potential danger?

How much money do we spend on searching the skies for this very real threat? How many man hours are spent in the search? What part of the estimated total number of asteroids or comets capable of striking earth have been mapped? The answers will probably astound you. I have no doubt that more money is spent on one night's fighting than has ever been spent on searching for and mapping these celestial dangers. More man hours go into running one aircraft carrier for one week than have ever, probably, been spent staring at the heavens. And far less than 10% of the celestial bodies that could possibly collide with earth have been identified and their orbits tracked. This is a huge problem of which we have yet to scratch the surface.

Obviously, we are facing a real, current threat that must receive a substantial amount of our total resources. But it is not the only threat. There is a far more substantial threat to our existence out there, somewhere. We can only hope that it's not anywhere close at the moment. Real but not immediately present threats always seem to be placed on the "back burner". So it is with the asteroid threat; so it is with global warming; so it is with many pollution threats. So it was with terrorism and the problem of Afghanistan. Perhaps we need to change our persectives.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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