NASA Detects First Message From Alien Life… “What The Hell, You Guys?”

We now face the dangerous risk of populism, illiberal democracies, autocracy and self-interest around the world.  Socrates is supposed to have said: “to move the world, we must move ourselves”. Another great-  the Mahatma – said “you must be the change that you wish to see in this world”.

by Dr. Ruwantissa Abeyratne

The first alien says, “The dominant life forms on the earth planet have developed satellite-based nuclear weapons.” The second alien, who looks exactly like the first, asks, “Are they an emerging intelligence?” The first alien says, “I don’t think so, they have them aimed at themselves.”…Anon

( August 19, 2017, Montreal, Sri Lanka Guardian) I must acknowledge with thanks that the title of this article is borrowed verbatim from Andre R’s tweet (@excelPope) which brought a smile to my face and eased my furrowed brow. I have often wondered why we cannot keep our mouths shut and say the least that is needed: like for instance, the white supremacist who killed the innocent female protestor is evil; white supremacy or any discrimination and bigotry is evil; a madman who threatens to fire nuclear missiles at an innocent population is evil and that all of these should be despised and detested.  The fundamental issue behind all these seems to lie in the question: are we, the sum total of humanity, bellicose by nature and eschew peace and harmonious existence or do we constitute a peaceful and generous collective called Homo Sapiens?

Firstly, it is reasonable to say that it would be naïve to think that all 7 billion of us can get along peacefully, considering the various divisive factors that we have faced over centuries ranging from clashes of religions and race; culture and color; and not to mention greed and power.  At the same time, it seems ludicrous to tolerate extremism and division to the extent that we now see around us.  When the European Union won the Nobel Prize for peace in 2012 The Nobel Committee stated that the prize motivation was that the European Union had: “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”, making an example of the EU for peaceful co-existence among the peoples of the many member States of the Union.

The Nobel Committee went on to say: “[I]n this time of economic and social unrest, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wished to reward the EU’s successful struggle for peace, reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. When the community expanded to include additional countries during the 1970s and 1980s, democracy was a prerequisite for membership. After the fall of European communist regimes around 1990, the union was able to expand to include several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where democracy had been strengthened and conflict checked. The Nobel Committee also believes that the question of EU membership is bolstering the reconciliation process after the wars in the Balkan States, and that the desire for EU membership has also promoted democracy and human rights in Turkey”.

Sometime ago I wrote in one of my articles that “inasmuch as there would be no peace if normalcy in daily human intercourse were not restored, it is incontrovertible that there will be no lasting peace if the attendant hatred that goes into human conflict is not eradicated and obviated.  In this context, the classic meaning of the word “obviate” (which is to make unnecessary) is intended.  Inherent in any process of racial or national hatred is a certain intellectual abdication of the values instilled in a society, through a democratic process, encompassing legal, philosophical and epistemological principles.  Also endemic to hatred from a national perspective, is the preeminent role played by hate speech.  It is therefore imperative that a peaceful society brings to bear an irrevocable resurgence calculated to apprehend this social phenomenon both in its individual and collective incarnations.  Above all, the issue must as of necessity be addressed with an openness to unforeseen questions which may divide nationalities and races and estrange them from their foundational bases”.

I still stand by this statement.

What is needed as an antidote to social division is leadership that can unify. One of the tools of such a  leadership would be prevention which is based on the legal principle called “the Precautionary Principle”.  This principle   was called the most important idea of 2001 by the New York Times. The Precautionary Principle asserts that the absence of empirical or scientific evidence should not preclude States from taking action to prevent a harm before it occurs. It is   a moral and political principle which stands for the fact that   if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action. The evolution of the principle in international law began in the early 1980s although there is evidence that it was domestically popular in Europe in the 1930s in the German socio-legal tradition, centering on the concept of good household management. In German, the concept is Vorsorgeprinzip, which translates into English as precaution principle.  In today’s political context, the Precautionary Principle enjoys a wide, unprecedented recognition and it has become of such tremendous importance because in many cases, the scientific establishment of cause and effect is a difficult task sometimes approaching a fruitless investigation of infinite series of events.

For the Precautionary Principle to apply, States must take measures according to their capabilities and they must be cost effective.  Also, threats that are responded to must be both serious and irreversible. The Precautionary Principle is usually applied through a structured approach to the analysis of risk, which comprises three elements: risk assessment; risk management; and risk communication and is particularly relevant to the management of risk. It usually applies when potentially dangerous effects from a particular process or phenomenon have been identified and scientific evaluation does not guarantee that the risk could be averted.

We now face the dangerous risk of populism, illiberal democracies, autocracy and self-interest around the world.  Socrates is supposed to have said: “to move the world, we must move ourselves”. Another great-  the Mahatma – said “you must be the change that you wish to see in this world”.

But first things first.  We must move on by taking responsibility and being accountable.


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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