A glimmer of hope for humanity
Wenz's reply was both disturbingly ominous and refreshingly optimistic:
Yes. When I contemplate the end of everything positive the human race has worked for, I get all sad and sentimental, and figure it's worth a little trouble.
Of all the things about this weird war to be pissed-off about, I've probably been as upset about the destruction of Iraq's libraries and museums at the beginning of the war as by anything else. Priceless cultural artifacts gone forever. Probably most of the looting was spontaneous, though it could have been prevented. But the librarieswere burned by busloads of arsons who came into the center of Baghdad specifically to torch the libraries. Why? Most likely, they were paid. By whom? People who wanted to destroy Iraq's cultural identity - either on the grounds that destroying it would help turn the Iraqis into what we wanted them to be, or because their culture was evil because it wasn't Christian - or both. In other words, I think Christo-Fascist black ops, or contractors, paid some Iraqis to torch their libraries.
While the country can be rebuilt - assuming the Iraq conflict doesn't spiral out of control and turn into WWIIII - the cultural artifacts are lost forever.
I collect old books and maps, and once in a while I ask myself why. It's because I'm trying to hang onto something from the past, something with meaning beyond the moment, or the latest sitcom. We live in an increasingly uprooted, meaningless world, and we need anchor points - books, records, species with their unique genetic imprints. Every time we lose an anchor point, we lose part of ourselves, and take one step closer to our annihilation. It's not so bad that we'd be gone - who cares, in the big picture. Humans are mostly a force of destruction in the biosphere. But it would be too bad if our potential was gone. All that we could be, lost forever.
And each time we lose part of our history, we lose part of that potential - forever. If you care about what could be, and by proxy what has been, you'll fight for what is. Better to strike out swinging than looking.
Wenz's Web site, Ecotecture.com, provides further information on how to be among the "swingers."