Sunday, August 24, 2014

When We Are Part Of The Problem

That which we tolerate today we embrace tomorrow. – Various attribution

No raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood. – Various attribution

Rather than ask what is wrong with the world, ask what is right with it.  The answer you focus on determines your thoughts, words and deeds. – Harry Tucker

The #1206 “fiction” series continues ….

It was another difficult day on the set of his most recent documentary and Zane sighed with exhaustion as he shuffled into his bedroom.  Without undressing, he fell full-length onto his bed as his mind churned over the events of today and his intentions for tomorrow.

He fell into a much-needed sleep … or thought he had when he suddenly awoke with a start as he found himself sitting in a dark room.

“Do not be afraid”, said a voice in the darkness, “you will not be harmed in any way.”

“Where am I?”, Zane asked, confused and apprehensive about what appeared to be a crazy dream erupting from his over-worked mind.

“Where you are is not important”, came the reply.  “As I indicated, you are safe.  We seek your assistance on an important matter.  Please observe the holo-image around you.”

Before Zane could ask what a holo-image was, the room was suddenly filled with the laughter of thousands of children as they played around a lone chair that sat empty.

As he wondered about the children, the voice suddenly said “You see 24,000 children before you under the age of 5 years.  Observe.”

As he watched, he saw an image of himself struggling against the grip of two large but obscured figures.  They dragged him over to the chair and bound him to it, leaving him struggling against seemingly unbreakable bonds.  The playing children were provided with water by an obscure figure who released the water with the press of a button.  As they thirstily drank it, their faces suddenly contorted and they began to fall all around him.

“What’s happening?”, demanded Zane, horrified with the images he saw as the copy of himself in the chair cursed and swore to be released in order to help the children.

“They are dying from contaminated water”, replied the voice.

“You son of a ….”, yelled Zane but he was interrupted by the voice. 

“Wait”, it intoned.

Suddenly the image around him changed and the children were alive again, happily playing all around him.  The same chair sat amongst them, empty, when he saw an image of himself saunter over and sit down, this time not being forced by the figures who had dragged him to the chair earlier.

As he watched, the scene repeated as before, with the obscure figure releasing water to the thirsty children.  As they convulsed and died again, he was horrified to see the image of himself casually looking around, occasionally interacting with his smartphone but otherwise nonplussed by what was happening around him.

“I don’t understand’, said Zane, “What in the hell is going on here?”

“Wait”, replied the voice.

The image reset again, with the children happily playing and the lone chair sitting empty amongst them.

This time, however, as the obscure figure approached the water release mechanism, Zane realized that the figure was him.  He was horrified as he saw the image of himself release the water that once again poisoned the children.

“Wait a minute”, cried Zane, “What are you doing?  Why are you doing this?”

“Did you know that 24,000 children under the age of 5 die every day from consuming contaminated water on your planet?”, asked the voice.  “Perhaps it seems less painful when you don’t have to watch them die or you can rationalize a belief that you play no role in their death.”

“But that’s not my fault”, cried Zane.  “How can you suggest that I am to blame for this?”

“How do you know that you are not to blame, either directly or indirectly?”, replied the voice.

Zane opened his mouth to speak but before he could, the images around him were replaced by others. In one scenario, he was an executive ordering the use of sweatshops in developing nations to manufacture clothing, expressing delight that he had the power to rule over those whom he felt were worth nothing compared to his success and the success of his company. 

In another, he was one of several men gang-raping a woman, watching his manhood harden because of her screams of pain and fear and the feel of her nails raking across his face and neck.  In another, he was ordering a stock market crash that would wipe out the life savings of millions of middle-class investors as he expressed his indifference over the pleas of colleagues that wiping out the average citizen was not morally or ethically acceptable.  In another, he saw himself feeling the power of revenge as the knife in his hand crunched through the ribs of his victim. 

In another, he saw himself turn his nose up at the pleas for help from the impoverished, the homeless, the refugee and the mentally ill in an expression of superiority or indifference to their needs. 

In the final image, he was entering the launch codes to enable the nuclear arsenal of the United States, feeling the call of God to destroy the Infidel who dared to get in the way of God's plans for the world.

“It appears that you do not like these images”, the voice indicated.  “Perhaps you see yourself more as this person.”

The images were suddenly replaced by happier images, where he was playing the hero rescuing someone from a burning building, donating money that eventually led to a cure for cancer and the final image where he was emerging from a meeting of the United Nations where he was announcing his plan to bring about peace for the world.

“We see that you prefer these images”, said the voice.  “That is understandable. Every raindrop believes it brings nourishment while no raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood.

The voice paused before it continued.  “The truth is that you are all of these things, comprised of a complex mix of unlimited potential for evil and hope.”

Zane sat in stunned silence for a few moments before whispering, “My God, what is wrong with us?”

The voice replied, “A better question to ask yourself is ‘What is right with you?’ and formulate an answer to that question.  You have the ability, the talents, the strengths, the gifts and the potential to do anything you wish.  Unfortunately, the will to do what is right is oftentimes lacking.”

“You have arrived at a critical juncture in the development of your species”, continued the voice.  “You have before you the opportunity to flourish or flounder.  The choice is yours.”

“I don’t understand”, stammered Zane.  “What can I do to stop the difficulty that is going on in the world?  I am just one person.”

The room was suddenly filled with images of the potential that the Earth offered, stunning waterfalls, huge rainforests, fields of waving grain, abundant oceans and finally all the images were replaced with that of a single, newly born infant.

The voice spoke again. “You are saying that these things are not worth saving?  Be still for a moment and reflect upon these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where did I come from?
  • Where am I going?

Then ask the infant before you these four questions:1

  • What do you want me to do?
  • Where do you want me to go?
  • Who do you want me to see?
  • What do you want me to say?

Zane paused for a moment, feeling a wave of foolishness wash over him and then he humored the voice and spoke the questions loudly to the image of the infant.

The baby suddenly stopped moving and looked intently at Zane.  Zane shivered as he felt the infant’s eyes burrow deeply into his soul.

Suddenly, a realization dawned on him and he opened his mouth to speak but before he could say anything, he was interrupted by the voice.

“Do not speak”, said the voice, “What matters now is that you understand.  What matters more is that you do something with this understanding before your time on Earth has ended.  Your end may be much closer than you realize as you approach the point of no return.  In the meantime, you will be connected with many like minds in the coming months.  Recognize them and honor the connection. Farewell for now, Zane.”

Zane awoke with a start, his body covered with a cold sweat.  Looking around apprehensively in his bedroom, he realized that his nose was bleeding, he had an amazing headache and …. there was something he needed to do.

He groped for his cell phone in the dark to make a call.

To be continued.

© 2014 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

1The Four Questions and Other Stuff

The four questions are from the great book The Roadmap Home: Your GPS to Inner Peace by Leonard Szymczak and were used with permission of the author.

Zane is an actual documentary producer with incredible gifts, talents and strengths although I changed his name in this post.  He knows who he is.

And yes, 24,000 children under the age of 5 die from contaminated water on this planet every day but out of sight is out of mind.

Author Note: The following paragraph was originally used but was in fact the standby paragraph to much more graphic paragraphs (the ones now used).  People who matter to me felt that the shock value was important for the message and so the originally planned graphic paragraphs which did not appear in the original release of this blog are the ones that now stand.

Zane opened his mouth to speak but before he could, the images around him were replaced by others.  In one scenario, he was an executive ordering the use of sweatshops in developing nations to manufacture clothing, in another he was raping a woman, in another he was ordering a stock market crash that would wipe out the life savings of millions of middle-class investors, in yet another he was killing someone on the street and in the final image, he was entering the launch codes to enable the nuclear arsenal of the United States.

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings,  is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

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