Sunday, September 1, 2013

I Am (Sort Of) God

Trey Smith

On January 20, 2017, a new president takes office. She is knowledgeable about foreign affairs, has experience making tough decisions under pressure, and has a more finely tuned moral compass than the average commander-in-chief. But most striking is a unique ability she possesses: the power to secretly kill any individual simply by closing her eyes, concentrating for ten minutes, and willing it. Ayman al-Zawahiri? Dead on inauguration day -- a heart attack, by outward appearances. Somali pirates on a ship in the Gulf of Aden? Six killed, and not even the freed hostages can explain why they just kept dropping dead, one by one.

That night, after the new president goes to sleep, it transpires that you alone, among all the people on earth, learn of her power: that she can direct it with total precision, but cannot, for some reason, target anyone inside the U.S. Then you are given a choice. Snap your fingers that moment and anonymously strip her of the power to kill in secret -- or do nothing, in which case you'll lose all knowledge of her ability. For 8 years, she'll use it in secret, or not, as she sees fit.

What would you do?

Most people I confront with this question briefly flirt with what the world might be like if a benevolent force quietly killed all the murderous tyrants and terrorists. Then they shudder at the amount of unchecked power the president I described would possess, see the huge risks, ponder human nature, and say they'd snap. History teaches that humans are made of crooked timber. Deep down, we know that no one who'd exercise the power to kill in secret can be trusted with it.
~ from Why the U.S. Needs to Stop Shrouding Its Drone Program in Secrecy by Conor Friedersdorf ~
From the standpoint of the human ego -- yours, mine and everyone else's -- it is god. The way it views and filters the world is they way things are...or so it tells itself. If it views up as down and left as right, any evidence to the contrary will not dissuade it. Its perspective is supreme. The entire cosmos rotates around and through it.

However, though the human ego believes that the world was created for its benefit and its benefit only, it does understand that it alone does not control [enough] aspects of life. Sometimes, shit happens and, though the human ego tries its darnedest to make the shit stop, it seems the shit has a mind of its own too! I guess we could say that the human ego views itself as a god, not the god.

It is for this reason that we are damn lucky that no one possesses the attribute that Friedersdorf describes above. Any human ego that possessed such a power would abuse it by default and it would do so without a second thought. Sure, this particular human ego would tell itself that it used this power judiciously, but subjectivity has a way of impeding justice and fairness. The human ego views its own needs and desires as more important than any others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.