"Eric Hoffer tells us that when Gandhi was asked what most worried him, he said it was 'the hardness of heart of the educated.' Gandhi no doubt knew the intellectual culture of a nation is so readily capable of believing and defending whatever butters its bread.
"The landscape of the U.S.A. psyche is now so cluttered with the dis- and mis-information of these opinion-makers that confusion runs deep. The price we pay for this confusion will be high. For example, the desperate and criminal results of a confused rage, against a felt but poorly understood injustice, exploded in Columbine, Oklahoma City, and elsewhere.
"This ability of the privately-owned, giant corporations to
control the information we get is perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon
of our times.
"Since these global corporations now own and control both the
media of information and the engines of wealth production -- the very
tools we need to build abundance -- we must find a way to get them to
90 degrees with us.
"This is possible, because even the richest cannot buy protection from random violence, targeted kidnapping, global warming, nuclear winter, the personal angst arising from the intuited knowledge that wealth too often came at the expense of others, and the panic of knowing unpredictable circumstance can rip it away.
"True wealth isn't money. As Buckminster Fuller said:
True wealth is the number of forward days
of fully adequate life support securely available.
"The insecurity of having it taken away will disappear only when all humans enjoy fully adequate, entirely sustainable life support. This vision of abundance can make sense to the richest of the ruthless, too.
"The reality of the achievable end of scarcity is here. It's as real as the sand you first wiggled your toes in as a child, as juicy as your first bite of a good apple, and as available as the sun rising each day. The collective realization of this achievable reality isn't here yet. But if it comes, it will be more exciting than being part of the roaring crowd when a Mark McGuire or a Babe Ruth smacks one home to win the World Series. I think it will be more valuable to humanity than the discoveries of the wheel, the spherical earth, and the atom."
Al stopped speaking and the silence returned. Will stood, stretched, and headed for the bathroom.
"You know," Kathy said quietly. Will stopped. "I just had the funniest image. I imagined Copernicus sneaking over to the edge of the flat earth where he wasn't allowed to go. He saw this curtain hanging like a veil from the sky. Surprised, he lifted the curtain and peeked behind it. And there he saw not the edge but the continuous earth curving away to form a sphere, and the sphere was moving fast around the sun. He saw a whole new reality once the veil was lifted. Amazing," she pronounced, more to herself than to anyone else.
"Anyone want some coffee?" offered Anne. "I'll do it, Mom,"
said Lisa. She jumped up, glad for a chance to move, and went to the
kitchen. John joined her, watching her, looking for a way to assist.
Anne leaned back, returning her head to Richard's shoulder.
John really does like Lisa, she thought. And he's listening so intently
to Al. I can almost see his mind working at full throttle. He lost a
lot with the brutal death of his brother, and he wants so badly to make
some sense out of this mess. We're all so tired of being confused.
She closed her eyes, listening to the rustle of people
shuffling around, going to the bathroom, checking on the sleeping
children, the metallic tension of water beginning to heat up on the
electric stove. She drifted, hearing nothing now. Then she saw them,
floating silently in the sky above her mind: the demons of her
childhood dream. They glided in
V-formation, like a flock of silent geese, ghostly black, sinister, and
very large. So large she could see only the pointed fronts at first,
then long bodies gliding by like the endless hulls of huge submarines.
They had no flags or markings. They belonged to no nation. She was just
a little girl. And she was all alone. And still they glided in the dark
mind-sky. On and on and on. The missiles of doom. Anne started,
shivering awake, snapping back to the warm room. She looked at Richard.
He gazed at her with gentle concern, a look of inquiry. She smiled in
return, then replaced her head on his shoulder. "Nothing," she said.