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  • Patricia Wilcox

24. A World Facing Catastrophe


It seems almost unbelievable to me that some of the nations of our world are presently contemplating nuclear warfare. Seriously, guys? Were you on the planet back in the 50’s while I was just a little school kid laying on my back in the grass of the school playing field, worrying in my head about whether the world was about to explode? Back then I trusted grown-ups...


Little as I was, I’d heard enough on the radio to know I should be worried about this nuclear thing.


Do you know how near the world came to that catastrophe, and all because of a simple misunderstanding?


 An American destroyer had began dropping depth charges on a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine which its captain mistook for live explosives.


Convinced he was witnessing the opening salvo of World War III, he angrily ordered his men to arm the nuclear-tipped torpedo and prepare for attack. By some stroke of Providence, the captain’s second in command refused to give consent.


Guys, we’re back at that same stage again. Didn’t you learn anything from the ‘60’s, folk music, Woodstock, and the Summer of Love? Even little kids know this situation is not right. After aeons of warfare, surely we must be able to do better now? How did we come to have this monster that is nuclear energy seemingly able to run rampant in our world?


I’m sure such a time would never have been anticipated by our own Kiwi physicist Earnest Rutherford who was the first to discover in 1932 that when lithium atoms were "split" by protons from a proton accelerator, immense amounts of energy could be released. Apparently, he and other nuclear physics pioneers Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein believed that harnessing the power of the atom for practical purposes anytime in the near future was unlikely, with Rutherford labelling such expectations "moonshine."

To be fair, there are many extremely beneficial uses of nuclear energy, in areas such as the obvious one of fuel but also medicine and the space program, but unless and until we change our attitude towards our fellow man, the lethal types need to have much better control. Ideally a global ban.


We need to change our historic attitudes and start operating like a family; the Family Of Man.


Sounds good to me. The challenge as I see it is to become models of new and evolving constructs of family life, which reflect our diversity of culture and roles, and that respond to the pace of change which is an inescapable feature of our time. The families which it is the challenge of our present generation to build must serve a new paradigm, one utterly unlike anything which we have known before, because it must be sufficient to meet the needs of an utterly new Age.


The 21st Century has arrived so fast, and we hardly had time to consider how we should we approach it. In my mind, it comes with a set of instructions - the Baha’i teachings.

As one wit observed; compared with the children in our grandparents time, there are no 7 year olds left - only 35 year olds in 7 year old bodies!


`Abdu'l-Baha', son of Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, asserted the strategic potential of the family, saying;


"Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations, and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation...nations are but an aggregate of families."