Least Action Principle

by Canadian Author, Researcher, Explorer, Producer
Rolf A. F. Witzsche

 

 

Lead-in (Background and setup for the exploration)

Fred's apartment was the kind of place that inspires intellectual exploration. At least, that's what Steve thought about it. Ushi concurred. Indeed, how could she not? There were only three colors used throughout the apartment. One was a deep dark turquoise blue, which covered the ceiling and some walls. It was offset with a Mediterranean style rich orange to red ochre that reminds one of sun drenched Earthen landscapes. The living room floor was covered in large Earthenware tiles of almost the same color, overlaid with Persian carpets. Mostly it was the dark blue that made the place special. It gave a depth to the rooms that the rooms didn't have physically. It was as if one looked into the depth of infinite space. The corners of the walls were no longer discernible. Everything blended into a great void that was interspersed with mirrors and glass-brick walls. The deep void of the ceiling was pervaded with numerous tiny halogen lamps reflecting their light downwards and in some cases against groupings of paintings. The rich deep colors, in turn, were offset with pure white doors and door frames. The kitchen blended seamlessly into this color scheme. There, the mirrors gave way to chrome that was offset by white appliances and snow-white ceramic counter tops. The floor tiles of the living room were extended onto the balcony too. Fred explained that the continuity in tone blends it with the landscape across the river on a sunny day. The effect of the openness was further enhanced by the absence of a railing for which the builders had substituted a one-inch sheet of glass anchored in concrete, completely free-standing. Fred explained that his decorating goal had been to make the apartment appear three times as large as it really is, and thus to create a unique world for himself, within a world, and this in such a manner that the two worlds become one.

Steve's comment was that he had more than achieved his goal.

"It really didn't cost a great deal," Fred added. "A bit of paint, a few tiles, a few lamps and mirrors."

Steve laughed about it. "We should never talk about costs," said Steve. "We should only talk about the benefits and the most efficient path to achieving the benefits. That's how the Universe operates. Everything in the Universe happens powerfully, and at the same time as efficiently as possible. Everything in the Universe is typically achieved with the least necessary action. It's called the Least Action Principle. For example, if one wanted to travel from Monterey California to Los Angeles, the shortest route would be to go onto the highway and drive south. The least-action route, however, would be to drive north to San Francisco, and there board an airplane to Los Angeles. For the flight portion of the journey, one would have several options again. One could take the direct shuttle service to Los Angeles, or one could fly to Los Angeles via Tokyo. It is obvious which of these is the least action choice."

"What are you getting at?" interjected Fred.

Steve pointed a finger at him. "I am trying to tell you what you must do to protect the USA. The entire Pacific Southwest is short of water. There is not enough water available for irrigation, and much less so to make the deserts bloom with new agriculture for increased food production. In the Early 1960s a California engineering firm tabled a proposal to capture some of the waters that flow unused into the ocean in Alaska and divert them into the Rocky Mountain Trench. The project would divert it from there far into the South, lifting it right across the high-elevation desert of the Great Basin, to have it flow ultimately into the southern deserts and all the way into the deep south of Mexico. The project is called NAWAPA, and it is being intensely promoted again. And this is what you must stop for the good of mankind," said Steve to Fred, poking at him with his finger.

Fred just shook his head. "You lost me somewhere along the way," he said to Steve.

"Oh yes, nobody can see the reason either why this must be stopped before it gets going," said Steve. "The reason for this is rooted in the Least Action Principle. The NAWAPA project is the greatest civil engineering project ever devised. It is huge. It is massive. It contains over 350 separate large-scale projects. Some of these are enormous by themselves. One on these is a 900-foot high dam across the Yukon River to raise its water level to such a height that the river flows backwards into the mountains and from there to the South. Since this is permafrost country that is frozen for seven months of the year, the construction of this giant dam, and the preparation of the reservoir behind it that will become the largest manmade lake on the planet, will likely take up to 40 years to complete. And that's a relatively small dam. Another dam, a 1,700-foot high dam, is proposed to block off the Copper River and raise its waters likewise high enough so that it will flow backwards into the mountains and to the South. On the way south, the diverted water will be pumped still higher, with the power of six large nuclear power plants, into a high mountain reservoir that will extend for 500 miles along the southern Rocky Mountain Trench all the way to the U.S. border. From there, the water will be pumped up once more - this time with the power of 32 large nuclear power plants, to push it over the hump of the 5,500-foot high Great Desert Basin in Utah and Nevada. From there it will flow into the deserts via aqueducts into the desert regions where it is to be used. Altogether the water will be made to flow overland across more than 2,000 miles of manmade canals, tunnels, lakes, and aqueducts. And when all of this is done after a fifty-year construction period, it will deliver a hundred million acre-feet of water per year."

"What's wrong with that?" Fred interjected.

"What's wrong is that the project is synonymous with flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles via Tokyo," said Steve. "The project isn't catastrophic because the 500-mile reservoir along the Rocky Mountain Trench will cut off all three of Canada's transcontinental rail lines and add the better part of a thousand miles to Canada's continental rail distance. Nor is the project catastrophic for reasons that the project requires the relocation of a number of entire cities, and a major re-routing of the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline. Nor is the project catastrophic in nature, because its capacity is insufficient for the need, and is not expandable by design for the limits of available waters at the source. Neither is the project catastrophic for the potential that the coming next glaciation cycle of the Ice Age will disable its source waters before the project is completed, or shortly thereafter. Neither is the project catastrophic for the fact that it will drain away a major portion of America's economic and manpower resources for a span of 50 years with almost nothing to show for in the end. While these are all hugely devastating factors in themselves, and more so all of them together, those factor pail in comparison with what their implementation would prevent."

"And that is?" said Fred.

"Oh yes, what is so big that the loss incurred by the project would pail everything into insignificance?" said Steve. "What you would loose is the efficient option. It is a great idea to divert fresh water into the deserts to make them bloom with agriculture for increasing the food supply of the world. It is a great idea too, to divert the waters for this purpose that presently flow unused into the oceans. But for this you don't need a huge project if you implement the Least Action Principle utilizing modern technology. The key here is to utilize nuclear powered high temperature automated manufacturing processes, based on basalt as an input material. As you know, basalt is ten times stronger than steel, is none corrosive, and can be extruded into micro fibers that can be subsequently woven into extremely strong fabrics. One could use these fabrics to manufacture thin-walled hoses a hundred meters in diameter, which one would then lay out into the oceans to convey fresh water through them with almost no effort. One could thereby divert the outflow of major rivers right to the edge of the deserts, where it becomes immediately available for irrigation. Such a system could for example divert a portion of the outflow of the mighty Orinoco River in Venezuela, across the Gulf of Mexico, to the deserts of California and Mexico, and to wherever else irrigation water is needed. Such a system would deliver many times the flow rate that NAWAPA promised, and this in 5 years instead of 50 years, and it would be expandable and not be vulnerable to the coming Ice Age freeze-up in the North. This, Fred, is what you would miss if you go for the NAWAPA project. And this would be just the beginning of what you would miss if you submitted your country to this tragedy.

"If you were to opt for the high-temperature technology route with automated manufacturing in the processing, which enables the water-in-water transfer method," Steve continued, "the same technology would also give you the power to manufacture those urgently needed complete housing units in automated processes that you can produce so inexpensively that they can be given away for free by the millions as an investment by society into itself. And this too, would be just another beginning."

"A beginning for what?" interjected Fred.

"It would stage the beginning for the real thing that mankind absolutely needs to have in the coming Ice Age environment," said Steve. "The large-scale automated manufacturing technology would enable the building of floating bridges spanning the oceans between the continents, like from Florida to Morocco, and from Mexico to China, with branches stretching deep into the tropical waters to support large-scale floating agriculture there. We need this development urgently, because when the Ice Age transition begins it may rapidly disable all of the northern agricultural regions where presently most of the world's food comes from. The floating agriculture can be produced on a large scale, and this quickly enough for it to be ready in time to make up for the big losses in the North that are sure to happen during the potentially near transition towards the next Ice Age. It might become necessary to feed five billion people with the products of this floating agriculture that would be safe in the tropics from the Ice Age climate. Also, the atmosphere over the tropical oceans has the world's highest CO2 concentration, which is a critical factor for plant growth. Plant growth would be two or three times as strong if the world's atmosphere wasn't so critically carbon deficient as it presently is. Our entire biosphere is at a critical CO2 starvation stage. The current CO2 concentration is in the 300 to 400-parts-per-million range. That's dangerously close to the absolute minimum for agriculture to be possible. If it drops below the 200 mark, plant growth grinds to a halt. Ice core readings tell us that the carbon concentration dropped below the 150 mark during parts of the last Ice Age glaciation cycle. This means that the floating agriculture in the tropics will tide us over for a while, maybe for a few hundred years, possibly through the entire transition period. This stop-gap measure will give us a chance to develop the technology and economics for full-scale indoor agriculture with carbon-enriched controlled environments and scientifically optimized lighting and moisture and temperature controls, and so on. Until we get to this point, tropical agriculture will likely be a critical stepping-stone for us into the coming Ice Age world. It might in fact be the most critical factor for mankind's survival in the near term. It is absolutely criminal therefore, to waste the few precious years that we may still have with pursuing the low-tech NAWAPA option that doesn't get us anywhere, which is essentially a dead-end project."

"How much time do we have before the next glaciation cycle begins?" Fred interjected.

"That's a good question, but it's not a valid question," said Steve. "It's a good question, because nobody can foretell when the climate system flips back to its normal glaciation state. Do we have 50 years, 100 years, or maybe 150 years? Too many mutually supportive factors play into the climate dynamics for such answers to be possible. In terms of the historic cycles that transition is already overdue by half a percent. This puts it rather close. Also we see telltale signs that a transition of some sort is in progress. The solar heliosphere is shrinking. This shrinking, all by itself, is giving us the current increased cosmic ray density and thereby increased cloud formation, which in turn translates itself into colder temperatures. Nobody can tell, of course, if what we see isn't just another minor anomaly on the horizon, similar to what gave us the Little Ice Age in the 1600s, and so on. By the same token, nobody can foretell whether we aren't experiencing already the start of the long-expected big transition that is deemed to be still a hundred years distant. The Little Ice Age resulted when the Earth experienced half a degree global cooling. In comparison with that, we have seen massive temperature fluctuations in the ice core records for the transition period leading into the last glaciation cycles. Those fluctuations appear to have been decades in length with some rather deep cooling, in the order of ten to fifteen degrees. Nobody knows for certain what this all means, but most likely, if this pattern is repeated, it might mean that we may see the total loss of the entire northern agriculture in the space of a few years in the near term, possibly affecting nearly all of Europe, Russia, and Canada, and most of the U.S. and parts of northern China. This means that we might see 80% of the world's agriculture becoming suddenly disabled. Of course we don't know when. The astrophysical causes are too distant for us to probe. We only know that it will take a mighty effort on our part, spanning at least fifty years, to create a minimal alternate agricultural capability that matches the needed scale and can be created in an area that the Ice Age cooling cannot reach, such as in the tropics. We are talking about something big here on an enormous scale. Creating an alternative for 80% of the world's agriculture, and to putting it afloat onto the oceans in the tropics, as there is not enough land available there, where it would be safe, requires the building of quite a few major infrastructures. This is why the question of how much time we still have available is not a valid question. Considering what is at stake if we fail, the infrastructure building should start today, otherwise we gamble with the continued existence of mankind. Nothing can justify that. We can't even afford to gamble that it might be possible to go directly to indoor agriculture. We don't have the economic resources built up yet, to get this done in the short timeframe that we may have left of the interglacial period. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't pursue this option likewise."

"In the context of what you are saying, the Bearing Strait Tunnel project for linking America and Asia mustn't be pursued either," said Fred. "There is a lot of lobbying being done to build a 53-mile long tunnel under the Arctic ocean at the narrow gap that separates the Asian and American continents. The proposed project would take 20 years to build and would required 2,500 miles of new railway tracks connecting up with it in the high sub-arctic. The entire project would then be a complete waste of time and resources, as it would be quickly disabled once the Ice Age transition begins."

"You would be killing mankind with that," said Steve. "Anything that would detract from the urgent task at hand adds up to nothing less than a proposal for committing suicide. Any other path to getting where we need to be, than the least action path, adds up to a willingness to commit suicide. Also, in considering the alternative, it makes no sense spending 20 years digging and scraping, and tunneling through rock, to build the Bearing Strait Tunnel project, when the Pacific bridge to China can be laid down in a fraction of this time. It wouldn't take much to lay down the bridge since its modules would be produced in automated industrial processes. In addition, the bridge would open the door to mankind's survival with floating tropical agriculture. Also, the project's technologies and industries would, as a sideline benefit, give us the capability to produce the needed millions of free houses that might otherwise not be built. The provision of free high-quality housing is our least-action path for creating a renaissance world, enabling the kind of massive scientific, technological, and cultural development that we urgently need for mastering the looming Ice Age challenge."



Steve glanced at me now and then during the discussions he had, while leaning onto the balcony door, facing Fred. The discussion appeared to unfold towards answering my question that I had posed earlier, when I had asked, where do we go from here? Steve referred to it on the balcony, but then stepped back inside to answer it. "Your question implies that we have already gotten somewhere," he said. "So, what must be the answer? I personally think we didn't get very far, if we got anywhere at all. The reason for it appears to be that you have all been hanging onto my coattails. You keep on asking me to drag you along. Sure, we have taken a number of significant steps together, but hanging onto me, and on anyone else for that matter, really isn't the ideal way to go. Life should be explosive, fresh, new, daring, with everyone surging ahead as a pioneer."

"Now wait a minute," I protested. "What do you mean with us riding on your coattails? We are all tied into this scientific development process together. Haven't we been working together right from the start, side by side? Since you opened the door and started the music for the dance, we have all 'danced' together side by side. Whenever new ideas were discovered, we often discovered them together."

Steve just smiled. "You are right, Pete. I just wanted you to say this. I just wanted you to recognize, on your own, that you don't need anyone's help anymore. I wanted you to recognize that you have stood quite successfully on your own feet. You do need to acknowledge this to yourself, because the alternative is ugly, it involves acknowledging nakedness and impotence. That's what it means to ride another's coattails. Of course, it's tempting to do this, but this is not happening here."

Steve explained that riding another's coattails is not different than embracing public opinion. It doesn't break new ground. It actually closes the door to asking the question; what is the truth? Steve said that riding the coat tails of another is the method that the universities use nowadays for teaching, and the politicians use and parade as democracy. It doesn't open new frontiers. As Fred had already pointed out, the universities authorize people's thinking and grant them diplomas for mastering the authorized perceptions that are but another form of the mediocrity of mere opinion. You can't go this route. Who would authorize the pioneer that breaks the barriers? Who would authorize the man that stretches the envelope? Who would authorize the discoverer that ventures into new territory that no one has walked in before, and does so, with vigor and power? Who would authorize the leading edge discovery? Who would guide us on the path that no one has gone before? Only self-authorization can achieve that, and a commitment to principle. This is the path for stepping up to higher ground, from democracy that features the mediocrity of opinion, to a republic of government by constitutional principles. This is the critical path for meeting the Ice Age challenge in the world to come. Unfortunately I see far too few on this path.

"Your challenge must be, to be riding the coattails of Truth. We all must do this," said Steve looking at me. "Unless we do this, we become a slave to another's achievements, or even another's opinion, and nothing gets done. We don't get anywhere that way. If one clings to another's achievement one clings to the past. This means that one isn't moving ahead. If one thinks like a slave in this sense, one will act like a slave. That's how an underclass person thinks and acts, and puts itself into its 'proper niche.' And what is worse, people who do that, call this freedom. What happens to truth then, Peter, if one becomes a slave to another person's achievements or opinions? What happens to freedom when one focuses ones life onto arbitrary opinions, instead of on demonstrable truth, such as the truth about the humanity that we all share? Freedom becomes lost then, by this unprincipled focus. One becomes a slave. This must never happen to any of us. We must alert ourselves constantly not to fall into this trap. When we go to sleep at night, our alertness must remain awake, and we must find it keen and sharp in the morning, and then keep it up all day in-between. It must be maintained, always. It must never wane."

"I know what you mean," I said to Steve.

"Why then, don't you do it, and do it daily and constantly? You have taken a few great steps, but not enough for the New World that we must create. You are still asking me far too often about what is right and what is wrong, as you had in the beginning. How many times did you call me when you were at an impasse with Sylvia over Heather? Did I help you? No! The solution came from your own heart and hers. You have the exact same resources to find the answers with, that I have. Everybody has these resources. In fact not a single one of the breakthroughs that you made were provided by my work. You must never forget this. You must move forward with this. This is why we all have to be walking on our own. There mustn't be a teacher-student relationship between us. We should all be guided by our own highest discoveries of what constitutes truth and its principles that are demonstrable. We can share our discoveries, of course, via dialog, and explore critical aspects together. But this has to happen laterally. Dialog must always be a lateral process. The flow has to be between equals, not vertically."

"Oh, I have tried this?" I interjected. "Still, I have to reach up to your standard first."

"No, Pete! That's exactly where the problem lies. Don't let me authorize your thinking. Set your goal way beyond what I have been able to attain. Forget me, go for the gold, don't be satisfied with mediocrity, reach out to infinity."

"Isn't this already happening in a way?" I replied.

"In a small way perhaps. I must admit that we have started to learn a bit from each other," Steve conceded. "And this is how it should be. The flow of interchange should be laterally. This means you must become your own guide, Peter, to do the right thing when nobody knows what the right thing is. This process creates freedom. It creates true leadership for the rest of the world. A true leader inspires a nation to claim its freedom based on the truth. A true leader inspires a nation not to act as slaves, not even as slaves to its own opinions that are invariably somebody else's opinions. The point is that you have to wear your own shoes and start walking, Peter, and then begin running, and climb Mt. Everest. How else can you free yourself from the stranglehold of public opinion that is presently strangling the whole of humanity by having latched itself onto the coat tails of empire? There is no community of principle in public opinion that is typically a cultivated thought-community with empire, like China had been, that was once infested with Mao's Thoughts. If you are willing to step way from opinion and finally come to stand on the mountain top of universal principles, I guarantee that you will look back to the point where you stand now and acknowledge that we both hadn't even begun to venture deep into the New World."

"I have to support Steve's assessment," said Ushi. "If our goal is to resurrect 'Carmen' then we haven't gotten anywhere yet, apart from having taken a few steps forward. However, I also see it in a different context."

Ushi turned to me. "Considering our goal," she said, "we have handled the beach project hearing rather badly, almost until the end."

"What do you mean?" I almost interrupted her. "I thought we came out as winners and no one was hurt during the battle."

She shook her head. "We have treated the man from the church badly right from the start. The fight shouldn't have developed at all. There shouldn't have been any fight."

"No, no, Ushi," I said. "Don't forget that the man from the church started the fight. He raised all the ugly issues. He attacked us. I had to defend us and our community, and I did it as gently as I could."

"That's not the issue," Ushi replied. "The issue is a matter of principle, how it was done. You were attacked on an issue that had nothing to do with anything real. The arguments were silly, the charges irrational, his goal was to destroy your standing in the community. I agree we had nothing to do with that, but you fought back at the same low level that he was trained to fight his battles at. You fought the battle on the level of the fondi. You fought a narrowly focused, single-issue war, the kind of war that no one can win. In such a fight nobody can see the forest for the trees. All that anyone can do in this kind of war is hurt one-another, and that you did, both of you, and rather efficiently. Sure, you withdrew from the battle before the hurt became too great, but nothing was healed. That's what I am ashamed about, looking back. These kinds of battles are probably going on all over the world in different forms and against different backgrounds. People get hurt, and nothing is ever healed. The farmer understood this best. He said in essence that the fighting that kills people is all in the name of the same God in defense of traditions, opinions, or dogmas. Now we have done the same thing in the name of advancing the cause of humanity."

"So, what should I have done?"

"The man from the church came crying to us for help," Ushi replied. "We should have responded better. We should have helped him get out of his trap. We should have caused a healing, as Helen would have."

"He wasn't asking for any help," Tony interrupted.

"No Tony, he was," I said quietly. "I was aware that the confrontation was agonizing to him. He had nothing of substance to fight with and was probably not allowed to lose. We should have treated him better. The church that he represented is an honorable institution, but it too, has been treated badly for centuries. We didn't have to add to that. Take the Christian church, for instance. From the moment that Christianity was put on the map it has been attacked. The priesthood in the service of an oligarchy attacked it from within, then the Roman Empire attacked it from without, and when they couldn't destroy it they took it over and turned it upside down and turned it into an instrument of empire. The unity of God and man that the apostolic work was centered on, had been split apart and turned into a vertical, hierarchical emporium. God was pushed into heaven and out of sight and out of reach, and humanity into the dust of the Earth, and Jesus was put onto a pedestal and converted into a negotiator or mediator between the two. The perversion created a perfect imperial setup, right, but it destroyed what Christianity stood for? The church then officially assumed the function of the mediator or negotiator in the name of the sovereign ruler of the empire. A whole lot of doctrines were created or perverted to make that stick, and all of it was done in order to control society. That's the trap the man was stuck in that we faced at the hearing, Tony. The Romans have created that trap, Byzantine has taken it over, and a lot of it still remains today. Ushi is right, we should have healed the church instead of fighting it."

"But how could we have responded any better than we did?" Tony asked.

Ushi looked at me. "You tell him."

I shrugged my shoulders. "I guess I should have focused on what was needed to break down the dam, behind which his entire life as a human being has become jammed up," I said. "However, how is one to do this?

"You have met Helen in Leipzig," Ushi said gently, smiling at me. "As I know Helen, she probably told you the story that Nicholas of Cusa had written about the sages of the seventeen religions of the world. They had come together to ask God how it is that they were all divided and were fighting each other, even killing each other in His name. God responded by pointing out to them that they were all wise men, and consequently they should all be able to discern that there is only one truth. The sages all said that they knew this, that there is only one truth. 'But why are we killing one-another in the name of that one truth?' they asked. Do you remember Helen telling you that story?"

I nodded and smiled. "How would I forget?"

Ushi reminded me what Helen's answer was, to the sages. Ushi told everyone that Helen changed Cusa's story. She would have invited all the sages to the seashore and would have asked them all to each pick up a grain of sand, because that's what they were fighting each other for. She would have explained that they had made the mistake to each regard their tradition, prophesy, ideology, and dogma as the word of God, the word of Truth, which in reality was something much larger and higher and more profound than they had dared to imagine. Helen would have asked the sages to drop their grains of sand and look up and embrace the seashore, the higher idea of Truth, the beach, the waves, the wind, and the sun shining on all of them. Ushi suggested that we should have turned the beach project hearing around into this general direction.

Ushi also suggested that instead of responding to the single issue topic that was raised by the man from the church, we should have said to him: What has this got to do with anything? In the same breath we should have raised the issue of the seashore. We should have brought the beach project into the context of the real mission of the church, which is to inspire a search for the truth that becomes apparent in the unity of God and man, and is reflected in the universal unity of one-another.

Ushi pointed out that we should have established with the man from that church a community of principle as a basis for a constructive dialog. In the course of that dialog, the beach project issue would likely have been easily resolved and everyone would have been uplifted in the process. "The man from the church would have experienced a healing," said Ushi at the end. "The bitter war would have never erupted if we had aimed for a universal healing from the outset. But we didn't do that. I think we were all afraid to speak the truth. That is why Steve is right, that we haven't gotten anywhere yet, at least not far. In Bizet's opera Carmen was killed because nobody had attempted to heal the small-minded world in which the Principle of Universal Love has no place, much less the central place. They had all voted for specie, for property."

"I think you may be wrong about us," I countered Ushi. "Maybe we didn't do the right thing at first, but we have made some progress, enough of it that we can at least talk about the real process now. That should count for something. Maybe the next time we will cause a healing. Let's not belittle what we have achieved."

"All right Pete," Fred got into the act. "Let's see if what you say is true. Let's test if we have made some progress."

Fred made himself comfortable in his chair. He turned to me and put his hand under his chin and asked me to suppose, theoretically, that I met this wonderful woman whom I instantly fell in love with, and that she responded with the same love and affection. Then he asked me to suppose further that on our first date she had a few nasty things to say about my car. She may have come from a rich background and might have felt it insulting to be asked to ride in a car where the paint has been scratched, pitted, worn, and become dull, and with seats that were stained by all the years of use, and were worn out.

"How would you respond to her?" asked Fred. "Would you explain that this is the best that you can afford with your income, and that people always come to you when they need help so that you don't have anything left yourself? Would you bring up all of these cheap kinds of excuses?"

"Of course I wouldn't," I said to Fred. "I would counter her complaint by saying: What have a few grains of sand got to do with anything when the whole seashore is before us, the waves, the shallows, the rocks, the beach, the sunshine? Maybe by focusing on the wonders of love that lay before us we would both realize that the rotten shape the car is in belongs to a different world that has no bearing on our situation. So then, what would it have to do with anything?"

"All right," said Fred, "I accept that answer. Let me ask you a second question. You told me about Erica in a debriefing. When she drew the line in the sand. Did you respond the same way?"

I shook my head and looked down in shame. "No Fred, that's not the way I responded. But you know all of that. I had been walking on the seashore and felt sorry that I missed one grain of sand."

"Ah," said Fred, "there we have proof that you have made some progress. And may I add my congratulation that your progress has brought you back up to the level that existed a couple of centuries ago?" Fred laughed after this, and laughed.

"What do you mean?" Ushi asked and punched him gently in the side, since she was sitting next to him?

"You tell me," he replied, still grinning. "Name me an opera in which extreme opposite viewpoints become united. I give you a hint. They are united by love, which takes us to a higher, more honest plane, where we say to the lower level divisions: What have they got to do with anything?"

"Aida comes to mind," said Heather. "Aida was a slave girl that was loved by Egypt's commander of the armies, even unto death. In the same context the opera, Romeo and Juliet, comes to mind, of two lovers that were united by their love against the background of bitter animosity among their families."

"That doesn't count," said Tony. "Love makes people blind. Isn't that what everybody says? Look at what happened to Pete and Heather; they blindly rushed into a situation they couldn't see through to the end, and then they got stuck."

"No Tony," Fred replied gently. "It's the other way around. Love opens people's eyes to the truth, to our humanity, by which we are already united. It is hate, prejudice, jealousy, fear, and indifference that make people blind. When we loose sight of our humanity we become blind. When we open our sight to love, then we begin to see. Love never makes anyone blind. It opens up a reality that is far too rarely seen. The operas that Heather mentioned make that quite clear. The killer in both cases is society's blindness. In the opera, Carmen, that blindness also blinded the lover. Love was no longer the factor, blindness was. The lover had become blind to his love. The specie vote too, had been wrought out of blindness. Society had been blinded. Even the Pearl Harbor tragedy had been the result of society's blindness, a blindness to the growing danger from the camps of empire and its international fascism. Had society been alert, the Pearl Harbor tragedy wouldn't have happened. The conspiracy to draw the USA into war wouldn't have had the ground to develop on. Likewise the specie vote wouldn't have happened that stole America's love-currency, and Carmen too, wouldn't have been murdered in the opera. But how does one combat blindness? That's the big question."

"Some day we will know the answer," said Steve. "Of course we already know that the answer is rooted in the Principle of Universal Love. A principle is an active impetus. Blindness is a passive thing. This establishes the direction from which the answer will emerge."

Sylvia interrupted Steve. "Hate makes people much more than just blind," she said. She asked Fred whether she had told him the story of a woman who had lost her son when he was quite young, who had searched for him for many years in vain?

Fred nodded. "Wasn't it hate that made the woman in the story blind with anger. She was moved with an acquired unrestrained hate for people that stole. When a man broke into her house, she killed him in her blind rage, being unaware that the man was her son who had finally found his way back to her."

"Hate makes people more than blind," said Sylvia.

Sylvia turned to Tony. "I can name you a long string of attributes that have much of the same effect. The story of the woman is fiction, but it represents a vast front of tragedies that happen every day as the result of this type of blindness. What Pete and Heather ventured into was not the result of blindness. I can never believe that."

"Maybe it was more like Carmen's spirit, what had moved them forward to the leading edge, a profound kind of love for our humanity," said Fred. "Sure, Pete and Heather got stuck," Fred continued. "But they got stuck because they were overwhelmed by the seashore, not by blindness. Maybe that is what I read in Carmen. Carmen refused to live in the small, confined world of common convention. The impasse that Pete and Heather ran into shows how powerfully a person can be affected when one begins to face the truth about the humanity that we all share that is as wide as the seashore, that invariably unites us across all borders unless this truth is denied. The barriers that Pete and Heather faced were the barriers that the world had created, that they had tested with all the daring they were able to muster. That was the impasse that they couldn't deal with at first." 

Tony shook his head in disbelief. "Why hasn't this happened on the political scene?" he asked Fred quietly, as if he was afraid to say it out loud.

"Oh it has happened," said Fred. "Carmen was a love story that ended in death, but it was also a political story of a political impasse. As Carmen died, so died Europe later as the result of its failure to free itself from fascism. That of course wasn't helped by America loosing World War One at Christmas in 1913. But Tony, we also have begun the process of resolving that impasse. When Pete spoke to me about a strange principle that had been brought into the open in East Germany, which he called the Principle of Universal Love, I realized there and then that a new era was in the making, an era of a higher sense of love, so that the death of the world's 'Carmen' would never be repeated. I saw Pete's impasse with Heather as a healthy part of this unfolding process, which will probably continue its unfolding for some time to come. Nuclear war appears to be our political equivalent. It's a scary impasse, but its ghost will never fly and kill mankind, because we have begun to push forward the frontier towards resurrecting our humanity, which means getting out of our blindness. Blindness is a lack of humanity, nothing more, so it seems. Likewise will the Ice Age Challenge never overwhelm mankind, no matter how threatening it may seem today. We have begun to move that frontier forward as well, in the same manner, enriching the universal worth of our humanity.

"So, Tony, as you can see the movement has already begun on the political scene," Fred replied to him strongly. "The most deeply seated opposites have become united right here among us, in the United States of America where the movement of freedom has become a tradition. We didn't start this tradition. We are only moving with it. The Civil Rights Movement was an early unfolding of it, culminating in the Voting Rights Act. Those are shining examples. Nowhere in the world had prejudice and hatred been more deeply rooted than they were in the southern states against the Negro Americans. Suddenly these people had found among them a leader who reminded them of their humanity, who inspired them to demand all the rights of a human being, and they got it. They didn't play grains of sand, asking for better pay or compromises, or a little more recognition. They went for the seashore, the mountaintop as Martin Luther King had put it, and they got what they saw. They didn't go begging like slaves. They fought for the rights of all humanity, and they fought their battle on that higher level. Some of that has been lost already again."

"Are you saying that we should have demanded the same at our hearing for the beach project?" asked Heather. "Are you saying that we should have demanded that everybody address another as a human being?"

"What a novel idea!" interjected Tony, and laughed. "We wouldn't have had anything left to fight over."

"Well," said Ushi, "when you stand on the wide open beach, enjoying the seashore, why would you want to fight over a few grains of sand?"

Here a light went on in my head.


PS: When the novel was written that this story is a part of, the evidence in electro-astrophysics had not yet been discovered, which places the start of the next Ice Age into potentially the 2050s or slightly sooner. The new evidence doesn't invalidate the story, but increases its significance by a large measure.

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