Global Nation Organization

Securing the Future With Love, Hardwork and Integrity

When I was a student of geology in Freiburg, Southern Germany, I once planned to visit a girl friend. She lived near Mons, in Southern Belgium, a few hundred miles away.  I looked at the map and decided to drive through North-Eastern France over night, an important shortcut so it seemed.

I had planned five hours of drive, but finally it took me more than eleven hours. The road I had chosen ran through areas with some familiar names – Sedan, Verdun, Douaumont, Lille - a road leading right along the western frontline of 1914-1918. In 1978, more than sixty years after WW I, it felt like a haunted, desolate area – empty villages, abandoned houses, hardly any lights on the street, and plenty of potholes on poorly paved roads.

And glancing outside, there were crosses everywhere. The entire landscape was nothing but a huge graveyard.
It told me that wars cast a long shadow – it took countries like Spain more than 140 years to recover from Napoleon’s Iberian wars, and Eastern France is still suffering from the consequences of WW I.

Memories about my weekend trip to Belgium came back to me, when I discovered an old binder with photographs. It belonged to my Grandpa Franz Kessler, who had been working as a railway engineer in pre-WW I Turkey, and then served as artillery observer on the “Western Front.”

Several times I opened and closed the book. Yesterday, though, I overcame my emotional weakness, and scanned the pictures – they are direct, gruesome but also very true. My Grandpa’ eye was relentless. He pictured corpses of fallen soldiers, exploded bunkers, graveyards and destroyed factories, but also amazingly normal scenes of playing children and a bath at the river. Several pictures also show the frontline on aerial pictures taken from either zeppelin or fixed-wing aircraft.

Have a look at my website: Matahari Sky www.flickr.com/photos/matahari.

The thirty-five pictures are organized in a folder called “Western Front 1915-1916.” History is important, particularly if transmitted from one generation to the next – forming a unique, personal and often propaganda-free view into the past.

I never met my Grandpa. Bad luck finally caught up with him when a grenade struck the factory chimney from where he was spying the enemy and directing the organs of death onto the French and British frontlines. Severely wounded on his skull, he retired from the war in 1917. He later died from a brain tumor, in 1935.

After having seen many war reports on the news or even the “History Channel,” I’ve come to the conclusion that war isn’t quite often portrayed by the so-called “embedded journalists” as what it really is – a terrible, unforgiving, grim, bleak episode of murder, torture and death. Those who win the war are those who survive. Some survive even better than others - staying far away from the war, and filling their corrupt pockets with the money of blood. War isn’t Boyz Toyz, wars consist of suffering and death.

May these pictures help to educate the world, and help to avoid warfare as far as it may seem possible!

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

 

 

 

Shirley, Jack and neighbor’s Jim discover a strange rusty box on the old barn’s crumbling wall. Old tangled cables lead out from there, to nowhere near. Curious kids, they break the metal box open. Under several layers of cobweb and dust, there lurk a number of old porcelain fuses.

“Wow, this looks cool,” says Jim, and tries to unscrew the biggest fuse in the upper-left corner.

“Need a drop of oil,” asks Jack, who had found a can of lubricants, and is about to pour the viscous fluid.

“Hold, please hold on,” says Shirley, “we better understand first, what we are doing.”

I’ve been writing this little story as a metaphor for what’s going on our Planet Earth. All of the above standpoints are correct, all are needed, and very much in conjunction.

Our species has been gradually taking over the planet, to the point that many of its dynamics are the results of human action (or interaction), compared to physical forces, and non-human life that used to dominate the world.

Now, it seems, mankind is discovering, similar to the children in the tall tale above, some hidden command fuses that regulate world climate on a higher, and rougher level.  The clever monkey is finally learning how to cook. One might call these fuses: ocean temperature, Atlantic conveyer belt, atmospheric partial C02 pressures, and a few others.

The problem is that really nobody knows for sure what could happen, when these fuses blow. Some may have blown a long time ago, long before humans existed, turning the planet into Mars- Venus-, aquatic or snow-ball worlds.All models suggest extrapolated climatic developments could be dramatic, in particular for a larger-than-ever human (and already suffering) world population that requires very stable climatic conditions to remain sustainable. Even right now, habitat destruction is not only affecting wildlife, but human habitats, too. We’re burning our own house.

What I’m getting at is that the world urgently requires a global resources management system. The times, where everybody can pollute at will or catch as many fishes as possible from the ocean are over – but not everybody is realizing this apparent fact.

Yet before a common platform of action can be developed, there needs to be a common platform of human ethics. Our planet can only be successfully managed, if fundamental agreement is reached on practical issues such as “right of drinking water,” “right of clean air,” “right of food, ” “right of sex and reproduction,” for humans and other living beings, including plants.

Like Jim, the boy with the oilcan, we need to pave the road, and to iron-out the many (often unnecessary or theoretical) controversial standpoints that have developed during human history.

We cannot just say: “ this is what the holy book says,” but instead all efforts have to aim at generating an acceptable model of human fellowship, that includes element of religion, Law, and most important perhaps: science.

Only with a united model, mankind could possibly embark on her finest task: rescue and ecologically balance the natural forces of planet Earth. I do recognize an urgent need for action, yet, like Shirley, one top priority should be to understand the complexity of human interaction with our planet. Hence our efforts must target four issues at the same time:

  • Address the most urgent issues, “extinguish the fires;”
  • Bundle all available research to clarify questions of human-planet-interaction;
  • Create a platform of universal ethics, and Law;
  • Develop a long-term plan to sustain the biosphere.

Needless to mention, that these are high goals – yet our human race, plus the planets biosphere may depend on their fulfillment.

 

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

 

Change happens on the heels of vision. It isn’t enough to modify existing structures for improvement; you have to create new ways of doing things to cause revolution.

While the above statement is quite true, it isn’t always easy to accomplish. Through time, true visionaries have appeared infrequently. Men like Isaac Newton, Nicholas Tesla, and Leonardo da Vinci. Sometimes though, it is people or ideas that exact change on a smaller scale. And it is with the combined effort of the millions of scientists and designers around the world that we can improve our lives on a daily basis.

Last night I watched an interesting news story from Holland on a home developer who doesn’t work against the sea, but with it. Thirty percent of Holland’s land mass is fill-in, wetland that was reclaimed from the sea called polder. This land is below sea-level. To protect the land from the sea Holland uses tens of thousands of pumps to pull the water out. Also, as many people know, Holland has an elaborate dyke system that is constantly being built higher and higher to hold back the ocean. Despite man’s best efforts, nature will do what nature does, ever change.

In the story on the CBS Evening News they showed the homes Mark Van Ommen is constructing ON the waterways of Holland. Beautifully crafted homes designed to float. What a simple idea. If the sea rises, so goes the home with it. If you want to move to another part of Holland, hook your home up to a tugboat and move it.

In looking further into this idea, I found architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.nl who has been designing amphibious houses.

A cross between a house built on piers and one that floats, the amphibious house rests on piles when the water level is low. When the water rises, the buoyant foundation lets the house come loose from the piles and float. When the water level recedes, the house slowly sinks back onto the piles. Source: Washington Technology

Amphibious Home

Floating homes are not a new idea. We’ve had houseboats moored to piers for many years. The amphibious homes are more than houseboats. They are built on a concrete and foam platform in a factory, allowing the homes to be mass produced by skilled artisans. Because of the concrete platform the homes can be built much larger than your typical houseboat. By building the homes in a factory, materials and construction skills can be controlled with total quality management.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. How true, how true. Floating or amphibious homes might not be revolutionary, but they are certainly innovative. And it will be these kinds of innovations, ones that work with - rather than against nature, that will secure our future.

During my many extended visits to the African continent, I had a chance to explore and understand the topic a little better.

First of all, there is a deeply entrenched misconception in the western world about Africa: it is often seen as a bleak continent of misery, problems, and diseases and suffering, relying on charity only.

This is far from truth. There is misery, of course, and tremendous suffering; but there is also a vibrant force of life like nowhere else. Nowhere can oneself enjoy life more than in Africa, perhaps – in spontaneous, natural, humorous, sexual and other genuine ways. As someone said, ” Africa is a place where nothing works, but anything can happen.”

In the Congo, life really starts around sunset, when the street cafes and restaurants open. The smoke of grilled fish fills the air. There is beer and life music just everywhere. Most surprising is the cheerful mood that reigns in every corner of town. Everybody is a friend. At some 9 pm the nightclubs open, which comes along with more beer and any possible aspect of commercial sex on offer. Those who haven’t found a partner yet may do so along the road to the hotel or house, in the hotel lobby, even to the point of some gentle knocks at one’s bedroom door.

Sex is openly associated with money. A one-night stand is cheap, and costs less than a meal in a decent restaurant. There are short-term contracts (five minutes, one night, one week), medium-term contracts (a few month), or marriage. The latter carries the highest social prestige, and comes with the traditional blessing of the African family including the ghosts of spiritual ancestors. The others are grudgingly accepted, and require the occasional ransom payment to the girl’s family.

Be it as it may, sex in Africa is predominantly a polygamous, and also polyandrous affair. A rich businessman, or employee with stable income tends to have many partners. Rich female business ladies buy their lovers. I remember the story of a State Oil company employee who had nine wives and 49 children. Another gentleman had 11 children with his wife and another 13 with some nine mistresses.

Sex also occurs a lot during daytime, mostly in government or other offices, with prostitutes signing in as visitors. Sex is simply available 24 hours, 365 days and wherever desired. Sex can even be borrowed – have fun now, leave your driving license, and pay later.

There are also different categories of partners:

  • The wife or wives. There is marriage according to either civil code, church or customary code; adultery (by the wives) is strictly forbidden;
  • The alpha-mistress has almost the same rights as a married wife, and mostly competes with the wives for money and attention; adultery is strongly discouraged;
  • Beta- and Gamma- mistresses are occasional partners that are often shared by a number of male partners; at this point we can speak of a network of sexual relations;
  • Common prostitutes (mostly female); these don’t tend to have long-term partners, but always try to get an upgrade to a level of mistress.

It is the sexual network aspect that is partly to blame for the Aids epidemic in Africa. Condoms are widely shunned. Another factor is the way, in which sexual penetrations are performed. Africa isn’t a rose garden of sweet feelings and romantic ideas. Sex is often carried out in brutal ways, given sex is not only considered a pleasure game, but also an instrument of forceful submission. Sex is a must. Nigeria’s late dictator Abacha is rumored to have died from a heart attack, after having swallowed a week’s dosage of Viagra. Furthermore, there is a whole range of herbal mixtures, with mostly little understood effects that are used to enhance and further stimulate sex drive. In certain tribes, rituals, tattoo and herbs are used to instill a powerful, indomitable sex drive in young boys and girls – at adult age, these require seven or more sexual intercourses per day to feel in the right mood.

Multiple sexual relations are for a wealthy man a status symbol as much as a Mercedes, and the consequences are dramatic. I was told that a leading oil company in the Congo looses eight percent of their qualified local employees every year to Aids.

There is little hope that the situation will improve in the short term. Sex is by far too important in an African man’s life, and condoms aren’t and won’t be popular. The most realistic hope lies in the development of effective and cheap anti-viral creams that would enable women with multiple male sex partners to prevent infection by Aids, an infection that is bound to happen - sooner or later.

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

I have read a lot of horrible stories in my life on the despicable acts humans commit on animals and other people. The story I am reprinting below wins the award for reporting on the most inhumane act perpetrated on a child and their family.

It is extremely disturbing to note how Islam uses their religion to support these horrific murders as if it were ordained by God. Truthfully though, how shocking is this news when we know Islam does not value their children. Afterall, they are the ones recruiting young men and women to be Shahada’s (suicide bombers). And how shocking still that no one in the Muslim community, not even the parents of a Shahada denounce the practice. Instead, the parents of the boys and girls who have already died via suicide bombing have encouraged their other children to follow in their siblings footsteps. So a story about al-Qaeda murdering and then baking boys to psychologically manipulate the families, who oppose them, is really no surprise.

It would be nice if this information were coming from somewhere other than a Christian organization. It makes the entire story suspect. With Muslims being responsible for so much violence against their own people, let alone the rest of the world, it would seem Christian fundamentalists would have no need to conjure up such a bizarre story. But this story exists. And if it is true, then the whole world should know about it.

So if any secular sources can confirm this story please either post here or contact me via email.

I want to clarify; I am not supporting a Christian ideology over a Muslim one. Christianity has not been very different from what Islam is today. Just look at the 660 million dollar payout in Los Angeles alone, from the Catholic Church this past week to the children who were sexually abused by their priests.

An ideology that does not protect and cherish the life of a child has no business existing. What further proof does anyone need to denounce Islam? While all religion has been an abomination to humanity, Islam, in its current state, is public enemy number one.

GLOBAL JIHAD
Report: Al-Qaida bakes little boys
Iraqi official provides account of atrocity to embedded writer

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Posted: July 13, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

A reporter embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq reports a government official has recounted a new atrocity by al-Qaida: several instances in which terrorists baked a young boy, then invited his family to lunch with the victim as the main course.

The report is from Michael Yon, a Special Forces soldier who returned to Iraq to report on the successes there, inspired, he told radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, by a “news cycle that seems to pander toward the terrorists.”

Yon was in Baqubah listening to the statements of an Iraqi official who asked that his name not be reported. Yon said the Iraqi told him al-Qaida arrived in Baqubah and united a number of criminal gangs, leaving death and destruction behind.

“Speaking through an American interpreter, Lt. David Wallach, who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al-Qaida united these gangs who then became absorbed into ‘al-Qaida.’ They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al-Qaida. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people,” said Yon’s dispatch, “Bless the Beasts and Children.”

“At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al-Qaida directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al-Qaida invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old,” Yon continued.

“As Lt. David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, ‘What did he say?’ Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al-Qaida served the boy to his family.”

‘Nobody lifted a finger’

In an exchange of e-mails with WND, since Yon was reporting this week from a region with no telephone signal, he confirmed his report.

He was in Buqubah for several reasons.

“One of those reasons was that AP had just reported a massacre as fact which turned out to be fallacy. Secondly, this mass murder I described in ‘Bless the Beasts and Children’ occurred only about 3.5 miles from where I am writing to you tonight. There were reporters here during that time, including from AP, and AP also had a stringer here. (Meaning they had two.) The ‘massacre’ that turned out to be a farce but was reported by AP happened just days before my report of a real massacre, but AP and others simply ignored despite having assets only minutes away,” he said.

“I gave the name of the village, grid coordinates, photos and posted video, and published names of Iraqi and American officials who were very easy to reach. Nobody lifted a finger. This upset a lot of people at home, and rightfully so. I was here with hard evidence – photos, video, grid coordinates and plenty of witnesses, yet flatline from MSM,” he told WND.

But he stayed in the area, asking questions.

“That’s when one Iraqi official mentioned the baking,” Yon said, a report he said later was confirmed for him by other Iraqi sources.

“Perhaps it’s urban legend. I have no idea. But my reporting was spot on. … I quoted someone and offered zero opinion,” Yon, whose work is financed directly by his readers, told WND.

He said while he did not witness this, there have been myriad other atrocities.

“I have not just heard about them, I have seen them,” he told WND.

Yon said in another dispatch he witnessed the excavation of the heads of decapitated children.

“There is no imaginary line of credulity that al-Qaida might cross should it go from beheading children to baking them,” he wrote.

He added: “Al-Qaida: the organization that gleefully bragged about murdering roughly 3,000 people by smashing jets full of civilians into buildings and earth. Al-Qaida in Iraq: who proudly broadcast their penchant for sawing off the heads of living breathing people, and in such a manner as to ensure lots of spurting blood and gurgles of final pain, in some cases with the added flourish of the executioner raising up the severed head and squealing excitedly.”

“People at home might find it incredible, improbable, even impossible. Yet here in combat with al-Qaida, the idea is no more improbable-sounding than someone saying ‘The chicken crossed the road.’ Maybe the chicken crossed the road. Maybe not. The veterans I’ve been talking with here have no difficulty imagining the chicken crossing the road, or al-Qaida roasting kids. Sickening, yes. Improbable, no,” he said.

“One clear indicator of just how bad a terrorist group is, is when battle-hardened soldiers – and writers like me who travel with them – don’t find it hard to believe a story which purports that al-Qaida had baked a child and set his roasted body out as the main course at a lunch for his parents,” he said.

A comment on Yon’s website from “James” suggested the description “barbarians” should apply.

“The moral equivalency argument needs to be crushed. We detain someone without due process and AQI bakes a child and feeds him to his family. Yet many people in the West are saying, ‘We’re no better.’”

‘Report wouldn’t surprise me’

A group with far more knowledge about torture and atrocities than it would prefer is Washington, D.C.-based International Christian Concern.

Policy analyst Jeremy Sewall told WND the report is “pretty extreme.”

But he also said with the documentation of various other tortures, “Your report wouldn’t surprise me.”

“I’m just thinking of a report about two Muslims who approached a Christian boy at work at a mechanic’s shop. They said, ‘Are you a Christian.’ He said, “Yes.’ And they beheaded him on the spot,” Sewall said.

He also cited the recently confirmed report from Turkey, where Muslims martyred three Christians in an attack described as “gruesome.”

In that case, “various body parts were chopped off,” he confirmed. “It was terrible.”

As WND reported, Tilman Geske, a German citizen, and two Turkish Christians were martyred – allegedly by five Muslims who met the three victims at a Christian publishing company for a Bible study, according to Voice of the Martyrs. Beheaded Turkish Victims

The report said Geske, 46, Pastor Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel were killed with hundreds of stab wounds, and “they were disemboweled and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes.”

Please note: The above video contains graphic images from the World Trade Center attack on September 11th, 2001.

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I will never forget the shock I felt on 9/11/01. I was about to walk out the door for the office when the CBS morning show cut into footage from a burning World Trade Center. I instinctively reacted with - terrorists have flown a plane into the building. Bryant Gumble tried to downplay the importance of what was happening by referring to the crash as coming from a small private aircraft. But I knew better, I knew it was a commercial aircraft and I knew what kind of person was responsible.

Immediately I called my family in New York to warn them they were under attack. The second plane had not hit yet, but as I said, I instinctively knew there was more to come. Soon three other jets crashed; one into the South tower at the WTC, one into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.

As a frequent traveler, I could empathize with the fear the passengers felt as they realized they were being flown into buildings. Visualizing what it must have been like still causes me to shake. I can see how it was possible for terrorists to take control of the planes. I often sat in first class, so I knew upon take off the curtain between the first class cabin and the main cabin was drawn shut to block the view and give the first class passengers privacy. Many times the cockpit door was left open until the very moment the wheels lifted off the ground. And at that time of day, first class would have been nearly empty. If a terrorist sliced a flight attendants throat open in view of any passengers in first class, those passengers would most likely have gone into shock upon seeing blood spurt with every heart beat, possibly right at them, and pink frothy bubbles gurgling out of the victims open throat as they gasped for their last breath.

As the day wore on, the phones went down in New York. I felt blind and panicky; but, not hopeless. I cursed at the people who did this. And wondered: Where is our President? The only source of communication was what I could read on the Internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV.

A week later I drove from Florida to New York to celebrate the Jewish New Year with my family. It was a somber holiday to say the least. Much of my route went through rural areas; so there weren’t many radio stations. It seemed as though the only broadcasts I could get were from National Public Radio. For 1,000 miles my husband and I listened to people calling into NPR from all over the country, reaffirming their support for the people in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. As I drove up and down the road, so did my emotions; roller coasting from overwhelming sadness to utter rage.

Truthfully, I cried most of the way. When I arrived in New York, I saw the memorials in front of every firehouse. An outpouring of candles, flowers, cards, stuffed bears, photographs…oh the photographs of the lost and missing…I can’t recall ever feeling such deep sadness over such unnecessary loss of life.

All regular programming had been preempted by the tragedy of 9/11 throughout the week. We were shown brave images of rescue workers searching the rubble for survivors and of family members searching the streets, hospitals, and morgues, hoping to find their loved ones – dead or alive – just to find something.

I will never forget the sympathy from around the world as nearly every nation poured out their grief and support for America. Messages from people on the street and world leaders being shown on TV from England, France, Germany, Russia, China, Australia, Japan – nation after nation speaking out against the scum that carried out this horrific mission.

With a single resounding voice, we all asked: How could such a tragedy possibly occur? Everyone but…

News footage, as shown above from the West Bank, was far from sympathetic. Instead, it disgusted me. Palestinian’s were shown cheering and passing around candy after hearing the WTC collapsed under the force of gravity after being struck by two commercial aircraft which compromised its structure. CHEERING! Men, women, children – young children – were all cheering and praising Allah…all were filled with joy upon hearing and seeing of the attack. On one video a Palestinian remarked, “This is a sweet from Osama bin Laden.”

I will never forget the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Or the sight of people jumping from the WTC and the sound their bodies made as they exploded from hitting the ground. But I also, will never forget those cheers. Cheers I was sure would make the world wake up to the understanding of what separates Islam from humanity.

Unfortunately, few listened and fewer remember…

The other day while flying through Chicago O’Hare, I heard an announcement over the public message system: “Department of Homeland Security has determined we are in an Orange alert. Any bags left unattended will be removed.” The message, which was broadcast repeatedly every few minutes, was in a very loud and pitchy voice, designed to catch everyone’s attention. Even the most jaded of road warriors such as me, could not help but take notice. It affected me the same way TV or newspaper stories on terrorist (which despite what George Bush wants to believe, does not rhyme with tourist) attacks do. It made me want to spend some time on the gun range.

I know from conversations with people in my personal and Internet life, this is a shared sentiment. Recently though I speculated on just how useful a firearm would be under an actual terrorist attack. Would there be enough time to actually shoot off a few rounds at the perpetrators before they blow themselves as well as others up? So I’ve come up with an additional proposal: Send our pet dogs to bomb-sniffing or biological and chemical-agent-detection school.

You might be thinking, there must be equipment out there already doing this work. Well, you are partially correct. Mechanical detectors are available, capable of detecting biological and chemical agents, but they are very costly and have limitations.

Biological detection systems are currently in the research and early development stages. There are some commercially available devices that have limited utility (responding only to a small number of agents) and are generally high cost items. Because commercially available BW detection systems and/or components exhibit limited utility in detecting and identifying BW agents and are also costly, it is strongly recommended that first responders be very careful when considering a purchase of any device that claims to detect BW agents. This is a very different situation when compared to chemical detection equipment; there are various technologies for detection of chemical agents and toxic industrial materials (TIMs) that can be purchased by the emergency first responder. One reason for the lack of available biological detection equipment is that detection of biological agents requires extremely high sensitivity (because of the very low effective dose needed to cause infection and spread the disease) and an unusually high degree of selectivity (because of the large and diverse biological background in the environment).

Another reason for the lack of biological detection equipment is that biological agents are very complex systems of molecules compared to chemical agents, which makes them much more difficult to identify. For example, Ionization/Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), an excellent (though expensive) system for collection, detection, and identification of chemical agents, cannot detect or discriminate biological agents in its present form. In fact, the need for high efficiency collection and concentration of the sample, high sensitivities, and high selectivities make all chemical detectors in their current form unusable for biological agent detection.

However, Detection Support Services claims a properly trained bomb dog is considered superior to current machine technology, especially in areas of sensitivity, mobility, and user friendliness (Institute for Biological Detection Systems, 1999). Adding, “Law enforcement and military bomb dogs were in very short supply before the devastating terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. Subsequent to 11 September, the requests for bomb dogs have out stripped all available resources.” Meanwhile there are 73 million pet dogs in the United States, all of which could be pressed into service.

Imagine every time you walk your dog, particularly if you live in an inner city, your pet companion could be on guard duty, helping to save a nation. Or what about those of you, who fly with your little dogs, wouldn’t their bomb sniffing skills make you feel more secure, knowing they would alert you to danger. Better yet, how about putting a trained dog on every flight? Certainly that would be less costly than an Air Marshall. Of course, an Air Marshall could shoot a terrorist dead, but what if they never get a chance to fire off a single round? Wouldn’t a dog on board be a visible cue not just to the passengers, but to terrorists as well? A dog could even work in conjunction with an Air Marshall; as a double team. So instead of just sending our dogs to obedience school, why not also train them in the fine art of bomb or chemical detection.

“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.” 

Anatole France, a 19th century writer and poet

I was born on the peak of the cold war in Bavaria, southern Germany. In my early childhood we lived next to a military airfield. Every day I saw fighter planes shooting through the sky, and their piercing noises filled the air. It felt quite a bit traumatizing. Now and then, when the enemy planes appeared on the radar screen, fighter plane scrambled to chase them off at the border.

When I was six years old, Dad showed me the death zone at the Czech border. There reigned an eerie silence along an empty stretch of land, far until the horizon, cutting through forests, meadows, and even villages. A poisoned stretch of earth, full with deadly explosives prevented the people in the east to obtain another vision of life. The area on our side of the border was strangely quiet, a dead end of depressed people, as if breathing slowly. We felt the vulnerability of our existence quite strongly.

Space is strong and vulnerable at the same time. So is intellectual space. Intruding enemies of the intellectual space need to be countered as well. A Danish provincial newspaper, that published cartons in Denmark for a Danish public is attacked almost in the entire Islamic world. The first reply to those who criticize should be: “We do in our intellectual space, what we think is right, and in accordance to the laws of our society.”

The recent events sound strange and tell a lot about the state of the world we’re living in. Intellectual space is becoming crowded, and there are no traffic lights. Failed governance, in combination with economic deadlock and pseudo-religious recipes has led millions of people into an impasse of no hope. Rien ne va plus.

Those who put fire on embassy buildings say it’s because of blasphemy. It may be so, indeed, to some extent. I can believe some people feel hurt. I also felt hurt (as a Buddhist) when I saw Buddha pictures being used for cigarette advertising – smoking being radically banned in the Buddhist religion. But feelings are always the property of the owner.

Is it acceptable, if people are saying: “I’m going to kill you, because you hurt my feelings?”

Be it as it may, nobody can attack God, Buddha, Jesus or any of the great saints and prophets. The great beings who have visited our planet cannot be hurt by any form of blasphemy, advertising or dirty cartoons. Let’s not mix religion and blind misguided feelings!

The big question is who decides what blasphemy is, or not. Religion has proved to be a treacherous ground for worldly business throughout history. As long as time exists, people have tampered with religion for political reasons. Contents of holy books, often called the ‘Word of God’, were changed again and again – adapted to new realities with the purpose of increasing or cementing worldly power.

Who wrote the stories of the Bible? We don’t know. How did the original Bible texts look like? We don’t know for sure, we only know that some priests promoted or executed changes. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, reads different from Jewish Bibles issued a hundred years later. Only the translation, illuminating a glimpse of history, makes the changes visible. Some texts went in, others were erased. God and Jesus were understood quite differently in the times of Justinian of Alexandria, if compared to today. The concept of Trinity didn’t exist in the early centuries of Christianity, and sects like the Arians saw Jesus as a prophet, rather than the son of God. The last words of Christ read completely different in St. Luke’s and St. John’s Gospel. If there is such a spread of interpretation describing the most precious words and moments, how can one fully trust the remainder?

How did the original Koran read? We don’t know, because the many existing early versions apart from one version were destroyed at the time of the Caliph Othman. In brief: religious books can be as much re-shaped by man, as created by the word of God. We simply cannot solely put our faith into something that people tell us to believe – be it for their benevolent or perhaps other, more darker motives.

Religious texts can be twisted. It happened in the early 13th century- Christian beliefs were twisted up and down until they would provide a reason for holy wars called crusades, then.

Imagine this: someone takes the Koran and produces a slightly changed version, or interpretation. A version, that suggests the disrespect of Jews and Christians, compared to the older, ‘original’ version that promoted respect toward the ‘people of the book.’ Imagine, such a book being printed with Saudi oil $$$, and published throughout the world. If such a book were to be followed by the faithful masses, who could any longer tell them it’s wrong, without being murdered on the street?

Is it called fiction? No, some say it’s called reality.

Recently I sat in a plane next to a Christian lady living in Sweden, but originating from the island of Java, Indonesia. When I met her in the plane, she was just returning from Java, and I asked her about her feelings. “Life for my family is not good any longer,” she said. “When I was young, there was no talk about religion. We just lived peacefully together in the same village, and followed our faith in the way we wanted. These days, we live separated from the others. We greet them for the Hariraya, but the Muslims don’t wish us any longer a merry Christmas. Our Christian girls are ordered to wear headscarf in our Christian schools. Frankly, I don’t know what will happen. Someone is mentally poisoning the Muslims.”

There is no doubt, that multicultural societies require mutual respect and sensitivity. Without tolerance, our world won’t be able to function. But tolerance must never be a one-way road. It may never compromise the essentials. The freedom to view, examine, and to criticize is one of the greatest, if not the most prominent achievement in human history. It may be the only available antidote to prevent gradual mental poisoning.

Nobody should ever bow down to any kind of faith, just because someone tells ‘don’t touch, it’s holy to us.’ So be it. Surrendering the freedom of analysis and judgment for the sake of a  temporarily practical cozy arrangement is perhaps the biggest (if not fatal) mistake a liberal person or society can possibly commit.

Our mind is like the old rusty Chevy truck standing in the barn. It’s not new, and not running smoothly, but it’s the only car we got to drive the road of life. Our critical mind may have flaws, but it’s the only one we got, and we cannot replace it with any form of kitschy faith, and  without compromising some of the most essential values of humanity. Being responsible means: to be thoughtful and independent; to be truthful, tolerant, and forgiving.

Equally important, so, is to embrace the essential values of a free society – a society that has the right to be free from ideology, taboos and faith. I hope this intellectual breathing space can, and will be defended with vigor and determination.
*****

P.S I wrote this article about a year ago. I copied it here given this topic has become even more relevant since.

(c) 2007 by Franz L Kessler