The topic of “suicide bombers” has been raised, of course, during the build-up to the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Regardless of what any of us believe about the events of that day, it seems we can all stand united in our superiority as we assure ourselves that civilized humans (like us) don’t partake in kamikaze missions.
I could write volumes on the conditioning behind such beliefs and even more on the myriad reasons to question any “official story” we’re being sold, but instead, I’d like to suggest we take a much wider view of this “suicide as homicide” phenomenon. I’ll begin that process by telling you about a jarring late night phone call I recently received.
The Fire This Time
On the evening on September 5, I was awakened by a close relative, calling to inform me that her house was in the direct path of one of the massive Texas wildfires.
The good news is that she appreciated the urgency and got busy—getting herself, her husband, her daughter, and her many animal companions evacuated (as it turns out, her house was miraculously spared).
The bad news? Some 21,000 wildfires have hit Texas since December 2010, scorching a total of 3.6 million square acres (an area approximately the size of Connecticut).
The really bad news? It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
A 2003 FEMA study concluded that parts of Austin and its exurbs were ripe for … wildfires, stating: “The conditions … as we find them today may be perfect for a natural wildfire disaster of significant proportions.”
“In rapidly growing population areas like Austin, as more and more of the desirable land fills up, you get kind of a pushing in and a pressure to build in the zone that everybody knows you shouldn’t be building in,” George Rogers, a senior research fellow at Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center told the Christian Science Monitor. “As your population expands, it’s a natural consequence: You have built-in pressure to build in less safe places.”
The worst news? Human behavior also plays a major role in the frightening trend toward drought.
“We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognized by both the public and the climate change research community,” says National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai. “If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous.”
To which, Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, adds: “The term ‘global warming’ does not do justice to the climatic changes the world will experience in coming decades. Some of the worst disruptions we face will involve water, not just temperature.”
It’s been estimated that 75% of original US topsoil has already been lost and 4 million acres of US cropland is lost each year to soil erosion. Without nutrient-rich topsoil, human life would vanish, but due to overgrazing and the deadly livestock industry, 850 million people live on land threatened by desertification and over 230 million already live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence and face imminent starvation.
Urban sprawl, factory farming, clear-cutting, petroleum-based industries, and much more—it’s a self-induced tsunami of blowback. Which brings us to the suicide bomber conversation…
If viewed without bias, one might justifiably characterize modern human behavior as displaying both collective suicidal and homicidal tendencies. We’ve created and sustained a culture that requires relentless consumption and violence in order for it to function as designed. The inevitable outcome is—among many other tragedies—irreversible damage to our eco-system, our source of sustenance.
Thus, we’re not only killing ourselves; we’re taking almost everything else with us. We’ve become a society of suicide bombers, waging an un-holy war upon all 8.7 million species on this planet.
When I’ve written about this in the past, I’ve often faced rebuttals that borrow from George Carlin: “The Earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas.” While it is technically true that not even homo sapiens can “kill” the planet, I strongly discourage that literal distinction because I feel it plays down the devastating impact of human culture.
The fact that life may re-blossom long after a particularly violent species of primate is gone offers no solace to those (human and non-human) who are suffering and dying today.
But it may offer solace to those of us unwilling to fight back right now; those too busy debating distractions like who will next serve as ostensible commander-in-chief of the society of suicide bombers.
The urgency, the clock-ticking desperation, is being virtually ignored. How loud does the alarm have to ring?
As highlighted by the wildfire story above, when the personal stakes are high, we react almost instinctually. If you see a wall of flames and smoke roaring towards your town, no one has to tell you what to do. No one has to explain that there isn’t time to pass around a petition or create a Facebook protest page. It’s time for action, not hope.
Which brings me to yet another 9/11-inspired comparison. Like everything about that day, there are plenty of theories about what really happened on United Flight 93. Personally, I find the “official” version most useful in its unintended lesson, vis-à-vis direct action:
The random strangers on that flight were forced to weigh options they likely never previously considered in any serious manner. Sure, at first, most of them probably imagined that going along quietly was the best choice, the safest path to resolution. Don’t anger anyone, stay calm, and hope/pray for the best.
Eventually, when the situation passed the proverbial point of no return, it became crystal clear that drastic measures were called for. The criminals had to be stopped…by any means necessary.
Here’s the aforementioned unintended lesson: When you live within a society of suicide bombers, going along is never the best choice. There is no safe path to resolution. You can hope and pray all you want but it’s action that alters scenarios and impacts outcomes.
We’re spoon-fed lines like “Give me liberty or give me death” and “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” but we’ve become a passive and easily manipulated population. Still, as the official story of United 93 demonstrates, a couch potato can quickly morph into a resourceful fighter once urgency has finally been recognized.
Thus, it’s only natural that if we see an entire eco-system under assault from a culture hell-bent on self-destruction, we listen to our hearts and respond accordingly, right?
If so, well…let’s roll…