Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Ridding the world of violence: not the whole answer

In the novel 2077 I introduce the idea of a dedicated quasi-military but unarmed organization called the Order of  the Knights of Peace. They are able to overcome those who resist arrest or ‘impoundment’  but only with special technology which does not inflict injury or cause death  to the enemy. Even when  Knights are in physical danger they must risk injury or death to themselves rather than to an opponent, something which could result in their dismissal from the order..

Looking at the sorry state of the world today I feel such an organization is  sorely needed. Although we do not have the extensive arsenal of peace technology available in 2077 we are beginning to move in that direction.

The Taser is one example, although it is far from the cocooning baton used by the Knights, and imperfect in that it can cause injury if wrongly used. Tracker dogs for sniffing out explosives could be regarded as the forerunners of the GM bees of 2077. Small drones for spying on terrorist groups could be predecessors of the spyflies in the novel. Decryption and computer analysis is already being used to tackle the organization and information flow of terrorist groups like IS (which I prefer to think of as Imbeciles of Satan rather than Islamic State, lest I, a follower of Christ, offend my Moslem friends). The science of sociodynamics of 2077 does not, as far as  I know,  have a precursor today but if applied to suicide bombing the aim would be to track down and arrest the ones who incite young people to carry out such attacks.

But the violence-inflicting democracy-hating groups  and armies of today still have a large strategic advantage whether in combat or in attempts to defend their actions, which is why I set the novel so far ahead, giving the technology and methodology time to catch up. In the story there are a dozen or so techniques available to the Knights.

While writing the book over 5 years, during which my worldview was gradually changing from a  narrow science-centred materialism to a  broader, Christ-centred one which encompassed both science and religion, I began to realise that, no matter how powerful the technology,  these ‘peace enforcing’ methods would not solve the long term problem of evil and its consequences.  Which is where the 'Divine Light' comes in.  Violent charismatic, domineering individuals ('dominophiles') are located and  spiritually transformed. Not indoctrinated but taken to a higher spiritual level through free will decisions.

The end point would be a world in which  violence could not happen.

But would this necessarily be a good idea? Imagine that all weapons, even medieval ones like swords, knives and axes, could be removed by magic. No one would even think about changing the social or religious order by force. The French Revolution, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, Nazism, Stalinism etc. would not be options.

Yet it is a sad fact that much of the social progress of the world has involved violence. Suppose violence was removed from the equation entirely. How would injustice be corrected?  Suppose the peasants  being exploited in France before the French Revolution  had no means of attacking the upper classes of the time?  

Plato  thought that democracy was flawed because voters would always look after their own material interests. In the West today there is widespread concern about the health and social welfare system as the population ages.  The sanctity of human life has already been devalued by abortion (which I support in certain situations only) and humanists have advocated infanticide up to the age of two, which would amount to the paganism of pre-Christian society.  Senicide has been openly discussed as a way of dealing with the problem of what to do with old people as they became a burden.  What next? In a secular democracy bereft of spiritual values the majority would vote for whatever suited the majority, no matter how minority groups were affected. Germany was a secular democracy which voted in Hitler who helped the majority by gassing or carrying out humanity -benefiting experiments on the minority - troublesome and offensive handicapped people of all races as well as Jews and Slavs. And these minority groups would have no recourse other than to find the odd parliamentary activist to defend their interests or to engage in mass demonstrations or online campaigns ; but such measures only bring about change when there is a large undercurrent of support. The majority are not usually interested in any measure which threatens their own interest.

In a secular democracy there is no way of securing the interests of minorities when their well being harms in some way the interests of the majority. In 2077 this problem is not part of the story but nevertheless the end world envisaged might have the solution. But to accept this you must believe in the Holy Spirit, from which the Divine Light emanates, as the route by which the religions of the world, including Hinduism, Islam, Judaism  and Christianity are brought together under Christ.  Yes, 'Christianity' has to be included in the list. Regrettably, much of institutional Christianity today is no closer to the all encompassing Christ than the other religions.  (Let me make it clear at this point that I attend a church and believe corporate Christianity is an essential  part of God’s plan for the world.)

How then would one help the underdog in a post 2077 democracy under Christ?  The answer could lie in the concept of an inner holy sanctum.

 ‘Hermit Sages’ in 2077 are individuals who have given up all worldly interests and devoted themselves to prayer, meditation and the study of worldly matters while being separated from it and having no material interest in it. Occasionally they would visit the minority groups involved to help establish the nature of their problem. They would also have to consult with the holders of power. But in all cases they would be respected and trusted to guide society in accordance with God’s plan for a better world. The media of the future would keep a close watch on them. The Hermit Sages would not  resent it because they would have nothing to hide and see openness as essential in gaining trust.   Media coverage, much of it by journalists also under the Divine Light, would  ensure that the Hermit Sages of the inner sanctum were performing their role. Where no obvious exploitation of the weak or downtrodden occurred, i.e. where there was no violation of the Sermon on the Mount, voting by an informed electorate would be the standard way of making decisions on the government of society.

Personally, I can’t see any other way  forward.  But first we have to get rid of the ordnance now circulating throughout the world and available to all and sundry without causing escalation by using violence as a solution. We also have to peacefully persuade the world that democratic government backed up by an inner holy sanctum would be the only way to avoid present injustices being frozen in. 

Another anti-violence concept in 2077 involves the Theatre of War, in which robots vicariously fight under international supervision on behalf of nations. This method is used to settle disputes over territory, natural resources etc.

I am hoping that my novel might inspire someone somewhere, or some people somewhere,  to focus on these questions and move the world a fraction forward. It can be no more than a tentative first step.


PS I also wanted to write an entertaining page turner! You will have to be the judge of that. Hopefully professors of literature and critics won't be too hard on me.