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The only thing new in the world is the history that you don't know.
Harry S. Truman

History is an ebb and flow like waves eroding a shore, like a pendulum precessing, first this way then that, but always giving birth to folly yet one more time.

In the context of this site, human conflict is the historical perspective that matters most. Of course conflict in its expression is affected by other developments such as in science, engineering, and politics. If there is an axis of evil in human history, it is terrorism and warcousins in blood.

The issues of war and peace are not black and whiteone must always investigate the circumstances lest we do something to our everlasting regretand to the detriment of all. Circumstances are often extenuating, not properly perceived, or disregarded because of complacency, innocence, outright bias, or arrogance born of ignorance -- or ignorance born of arrogance.

By the same token, one cannot delay action for long once the way is clearly definedto delay is unconscionable. Achieving peace will not be a passive procedure. See: Pacifism defined for a critical distinction.

Most simply, carnivores devouring herbivores is a law of nature. Terrorism, as the human analogue to that natural law, has been around since ancient Greece and doubtless before. See South South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology for what looks like a terror event from 5300 years ago.

Warfare has gradually moved toward extreme terrorism for two generations. Now we see it at new heights. In that same period, the announced motives of terrorists have largely reverted to religious.

Chamberlain, by appeasing Hitler, hastened World War II and ensured his place among incompetent if not ignoble leaders. Can either Sharon or Arafat be appeased? If so what then? This dynamic infects Palestine today.

Gandhi borrowed from Jesus and freed Indiabecause his adversary was receptive to ethical standards and hard realities. Martin Luther King Jr. likewise copied Gandhi and pursued passive resistance with effect. Neither man was violent; neither man was truly passive. Each was assassinated by his own countrymen in terrorist fashion.

Nelson Mandela is a contemporary role-model, somewhat in Gandhi's mold. But Mandela's organization was repeatedly accused of terrorism. His commitment to and use of passive resistance was blighted thereby. Still Nelson Mandela achieved a peaceful transfer of power in a formerly racist nation that just could be the greatest political achievement of the 20th Century.

Kofi Annan, already a Nobelist, may now be in the catbird seat to alter the course of history. He can use any help we can give him, individually and collectively. America's go-it-alone policies may hamstring UN effectiveness as it strains alliances.

To learn more about the Arabs and their culture, visit Arab Gateway.

The greater question is: how do we reach out to the terrorists and their societies?


Some people influencing the course of civilization:

Tool makers of antiquity: Mastery of nature

Farmers of antiquity: Mastery of nature

Hindu Prophets: Enduring peaceful religion

Abraham: Prophet forebearer of monotheism and its associated Violence

Buddha: Peaceful philosophy enduring to our time; equivalent to a religion and often called that

Aristotle: Philosopher of reference for two millenniums

Julius Caesar: Established enduring culture

Jesus Christ: Prophet for Christianity; enduring religion with associated Violence

Muhammad: Prophet for Islam; enduring religion with associated Violence

Johann Gutenberg: Invented printing press; revolutionized education and communication

Elizabeth I: Established enduring culture and most common language the world over

Galileo Galilei: firmly put the sun at the center of the solar system; started the science of mechanics

Isaac Newton: Scientist discovered his law of gravity; gave formal science its foundation

James Watt: Perfected steam power giving birth to the industrial era

Thomas Jefferson: Redefined democracy along with James Madison; Formally separated church and state

Charles Darwin: Scientist explained evolution of life, not its origin

Gregor Mendel: Scientist discovered genetics; founded new branch of biology

Karl Marx: Foundation for Communism

Albert Einstein: Scientist explained gravity; revolutionized view of the universe

Neils Bohr: Scientist explained atomic quantization; revolutionized view of the atom and its potential with immense impact on the course of history

Ze'ev Jabotinsky: Spokesman for Zionism; predicted events to come in Palestine

Adolf Hitler: Genocide triggered spread of democracy

Franklin Roosevelt: ushered in a golden age for middle class and laboring people that lasted 40 years

Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch: explained nuclear fission and verified Einstein's famous equation e = mc2

Enrico Fermi: demonstrated the first controlled atomic chain reaction with devastating results for world history

Mahatma Gandhi: Demonstrated power of pacifism

George Marshall: New rules for the conqueror; new benefits for the conquered brought peace among enemies

Watson and Crick: Scientists explained DNA; established revolutionary biology with potential for controlling evolution

Deng Xiao-Ping: Peacefully charted a new path for the world's oldest civilization toward a market economy

Nelson Mandela: Removed the blight of Apartheid in a peaceful transition of government


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