The sky is falling, the sky is falling...Again

If you go by the nightly Boob Tube news, there is little choice but to see the heavens falling into hell on earth.

“The sky is falling” lament of chicken littles who ply us with angst-ridden reports about the Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel — as well as sidebars about a two-state solution, or a Mideast on the edge of Armageddon — overshadows but doesn’t negate such things as the Nevada Sesquicentennial Fair, Jazz & Beyond, Reno Aces baseball, even Hot August Nights and Las Vegas.

I’d be happier if what happened in Vegas actually stayed in Vegas. But that’s another column.

“We must believe in free will, we have no choice,” according to Isaac Bashevis Singer, a prolific and insightful Jewish scribe who was no Pharisee. The tongue-in-cheek nature of that conundrum is it seems much like the contradictory admonition: “All generalities contain some falsehood, including this one.”

Singer is mostly right. Free will appears our lot, at least as individuals. In groups, however, we often give up our individual free will to those with whom we identify without seeing the largest and most important group identity of all — our humanity. History doesn’t repeat itself, according to Mark Twain, a better known scribe in these parts, but he said it often rhymes.

One of the most sound-alike parts of that rhyming is the staccato refrain of swords clanking, bombs exploding and bullets firing throughout history. So the Hamas-Israeli refrain isn’t new news so much as it is business as usual recorded because death seems to loom larger than life when bombs rain down from heavens and turn earth into hell for everyone in the vicinity.

The two-state solution involving Palestine and Israel was trotted out again by the United Nations recently to show its toothless grimace at the fratricide going on some 65 miles from the Dead Sea. The problem, however, isn’t rectified by relying on recent history’s rhyming process. Little has caused more mischief, nay, slaughter, in modern times than man’s love affair with nation-states.

War is no stranger to ancient history, either. But perhaps a better model would be the city-states of ancient Greece. Sparta was warlike, resembling an anthill more than the beehive called Athens, the crucible of republics and democracy if historians aren’t leading us astray too much. Even Athens had drones, or slavery, but then so did most modern nation-states until lately.

This rambling jaunt through history is aimed at showing people would rather fight than switch, groups whipped up over nation-state issues fight dirty and regularly, and city-states can be free marketplaces of goods and ideas, while nation-states induce problems of power hunger on this shrinking ball of dirt and water we call earth.

The consolidated Carson City and the desert state of Nevada are havens in a federal system. Differences can be venerated rather than incinerated here. Meanwhile, TV news isn’t irrelevant. But it’s mainly selling fear and nostrums.


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