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Rolla Peace News

October 6, 2020
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In this newsletter is:

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          The Fate of Empires and the Fate of a Geologic Era



We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office, THIS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, FROM NOON TO 1:00 PM (and most subsequent Thursdays until Peace is established). Please join us again this Thursday in saying NO WAR AGAINST IRAN or any other country. The temperature is predicted to be in the 70s. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.

Note: Since there are so few of us, generally 2 or 3, no need to cancel; but let's maintain social distancing.


Having been potentially exposed to the novel coronavirus, we self-quarantined until 14 days after possible exposure and missed last week's vigil. While we felt the chances of our actually having been exposed and having contracted COVID-19 were small, we also felt the risk of further spreading the disease warranted testing and self-quarantining. COVID-19 has infected millions worldwide and in the United States. One can hardly be too careful.

Here is an article discussing measures that partially reduce the chance of spreading the virus and how very important they are. Please read this article.

And a million thanks to everybody who offered to help us shop for groceries. We really appreciate it. We look forward to returning for this week's vigil.

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)

The Fate of Empires and the Fate of a Geologic Era

A reader writes regarding last week's snippet on John Glubb's Fate of Empires:
“depending on how you assign start/stop dates to those empires before us, many can be seen to follow a similar trajectory over 250 years. Terrifying and fascinating.”
“Those debates last night can't be called debates, they made me so sad to see.”
My response: Yes, fascinating, and just like the Great American Empire, factions among those previous empires squabbled with each other, apparently oblivious to how their empire was coming unglued at the seams and collapsing. Nowhere was this more evident than at last week's “Great Debate” where the contestants didn't even pretend to show respect for each other.

Incidentally, this did not begin with Donald Trump — not by a long shot. It's been going on for decades, although Trump has raised this internal squabbling to new heights. And, interestingly enough, the people love it! even as their nation crumbles and disintegrates.

If you need examples, think about fetal life, abortion and the right to choose; think about the second amendment, gun control and the right to bear arms.

Here's what John Glubb had to say about internal squabbling:
“Another remarkable and unexpected symptom of national decline is the intensification of internal political hatreds. One would have expected that, when the survival of the nation became precarious, political factions would drop their rivalry and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to save their country.
“True to the normal course followed by nations in decline, internal differences are not reconciled in an attempt to save the nation. On the contrary, internal rivalries become more acute, as the nation becomes weaker.”

It would seem that the Great American Empire has had its 250 year run and is now in its twilight years.

Being also in my twilight years, I think there is a lot to be said for bowing out gracefully, rather than holding on to the bitter end. So I wonder: has a nation ever read the writing on the wall, and stepped back from empire gracefully? I have no example to give you. Any history buffs out there care to comment?

Now I wish to take Glubb's Fate of Empires one step further. Let's consider the fate of geologic eras. We know that from time to time the world has been all but destroyed with up to 90% of extant species going extinct. A new, more vibrant world, then, arose on the remains of the old world.

For example, at the end of the Mesozoic Era, an asteroid struck the Earth and the ensuing cataclysm famously wiped out the dinosaurs and an estimated 50 to 75% of all extant species.

We seem to be on the verge of another great cataclysm and species die-off as the climate heats up and one rapacious species continues its destructive behaviors that warm the climate and transform the biosphere. One would expect that with the survival of our planetary support system becoming more and more precarious, peoples and nations would drop their rivalry and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to stave off the destruction of what we refer to as “global civilization.”

However, that is not happening. Differences are not being reconciled in an attempt to save the world as we know it. On the contrary, rivalries are becoming more acute, as the global order weakens. Witness, for example, the demise to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, The militarization of Space, the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, and the growing rivalry between the United States and China.

Sadly, there seems to be very little understanding of the necessity for all peoples and all nations of the world to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, if we are to prevent catastrophic climate change, just as there seems to be little understanding, here in the United States, of the necessity of putting aside our differences, if we are to prevent catastrophic national collapse.

I won't be around to see what the next geologic era looks like; nor will I be around, as the current order disintegrates, to see what the new world order looks like. I tend to think that the age of grand empires will be over. I do not think the Earth will be able to support global human empires any longer as the climate becomes less and less hospitable to humanity. The Great American Empire may be the last of the breed.
“Time hurries on;
And the leaves that are green
Turn to brown.
“And they wither with the wind;
And they crumble in your hand;
I threw a pebble in a brook,
And watched the ripples run away;
And they never made a sound;
And the leaves that are green
Turn to brown.”
—Paul Simon (Leaves That Are Green)


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Wage peace,

yushasager (at) yahoo.com