When I was in the 4th grade we had a boy from Russia move to our town, and attended our grade school. I don’t think anyone really ever talked to him. We wondered, doubted, feared what he thought of us and who his parents were. Nobody was mean to him, but I don’t recall anyone ever really befriending him either. Except for the girl who had just moved from Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia.
We liked her because she was a victim. It didn’t hurt that she was a tall leggy blond either.
The wars and international conflicts we have seen over the past year or so – especially in Crimea this week – have caused me to reflect on how much the world has changed. My parents never taught me to hate or fear Russians, East Germans or Libyans. Society did. News channels, movies, radio – all of it did.
Then something happened. The Berlin Wall came down, Gorbechev was overthrown (by his own people might I add, not a not another country.) Libya, I think, thought Iron Eagle was based on real events and just decided to simmer it down a bit. Fear dissipated and wonder crept in. We wondered, what will it be like now? Do we hate them, trust them, love them, ignore them?
Then the Internet happened. Chat rooms, social media sites, online communities. Global online communities. Our world is changed. I have children now and they don’t fear other people like we did. Instead of fear, they are confused. We were never confused. Just misled.
Because of the Internet we are able to see people for who they are, not for what their governments do. Because of online communities I can stand up for another human being and against my President. Because of social media I can love better, bigger and without hesitation. I am glad that my children can too.
A question I have asked myself is this; with everything happening in North Korea, Russia, Syria, and other places – is there a possibility of WWIII? When I see Russian police officers mistreat members of the Pussy Riot band or invade another country, and hear of how North Korea soldiers allow children to perish at that mouths of vicious dogs…I wonder if the prospects of another Nazi Germany are feasible? What about another Rwandan Genocide like that which happened during Bill Clinton’s presidency just as the Internet was birthing through copper telephone wires?
I hope not. I hope we have grown up a little bit since then. I can’t imagine being a soldier on the battlefield, coming back to barracks and escaping into a virtual world, only to learn that someone he followed on Twitter, in Google Circle, connected with on LinkedIn or played games against on Xbox, had died that day on the same battlefield, in the uniform of the opposing country.
I admit, that when Hugo Chavez died, I felt some relief. I will feel the same when Fidel Castro finally finds that tunnel with a light at the end. I will have no remorse when Putin and Lil’ Korean Kim do the same.
Who will replace them? Lovers of peace or Oracles of hatred, greed and war? I just don’t know. I don’t know what happens next or how the world will continue to evolve or digress. I don’t know if our own government will follow the fate of the Romans and Byzantines and collapse with a great thunder. I don’t know if economic or digital warfare is the future and if it is, will it be like wars of past that occupied time or an ongoing societal norm on a global scale. I don’t know any of that, and I can’t even comprehend it.
But I do know this. People all over the world have learned it’s OK to love and support each other. We’ve learned it’s OK to stand up for justice. We’ve learned that borders and nationalities and languages and the color of skin are not barriers just differences needing to be valued and appreciated.
In the words of Jesus Christ, “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Dr. Martin Luther King added to that statement, that all you need to serve is a heart full of love.
I think we have that. I think we all have some sort of love for our fellow Earthlings. When I say we, I mean the global we. We, the citizens of this great Earth. Sure, there are few who love power and wealth more than people. But compared the 6 or 7 billion on this planet, they don’t even warrant a demographic. So start now. Start small, in your own community and expand it out. Show a little love today to an unsuspecting neighbor, stranger, widow, fatherless child, homeless vet or even just your own mom.