On my last night in Seoul I went to the hotel bar early, to cap a this interesting trip. The bar is one of those places where you see the entire megalopolis blinking silently bellow you and numerous bottles around you reflecting the cosmopolitan glow. My Hy Blanc was very good, thank you, but the conversation I was to be involved in turned out to be even better. My South African drink companion was herself a global traveler moving between the Rainbow Nation, the Big Apple and the Asian lands on an NGO agenda. While the Philippine singers backed by a piano were crooning doo-wop versions of the global hits, my charming companion and myself started discussing topics of ever deeper significance.
Not only did we hit it very openly on the racial issues, we went on to conclude that the wars, as horrible as they are, are but a confirmation that our planet is getting irretrievably more interlinked. I have pointed to the fact that those countries that were in the wars with each other paradoxically share more of a common history than those that did not. How did it happen that the rain of bombs changed the European minds into building a Union, or into trying to build a common state now, I’ve asked? And how did Japan and the US melt into a common core of values that are shared not only by the two countries but now extend over many a country that participated in the World war II? Was the aftermath of the WWII a biggest integration step the planet ever experienced?
It appeared to us almost logical that the Arab countries, that were not involved in the great tragedy of the 20th century beneath the skies pouring death by fire and explosion – stayed excluded from the globalized zone of such shared values. Could it be, as it seems tragically ironical to us pacifists, that the intensly waived carpet of the American bombs and drone attacks in Iraq possibly have triggered the process of reshaping the local values into a process that we call today the Arab spring and which could not have been started in another way? Or could it, we have explored, keeping in mind the efforts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa? While trying to avoid sounding cynical to each other we have inquired whether this violent process in the Middle East could lead us to yet another global amalgamation of values, thereby creating an even better integrated world.
In that sense, and eased by the merry clinking of the glasses, soft piano music and twinkling of the Seoul lights, it looked certain to us that the very fact that we are fighting each other confirms that we are getting ever closer in sharing the planet. Given the poor state of our education, it is no wonder that we are so bad at handling the process of getting together. If we could only go beyond our religious confines and cross the racial divide, wished my companion, while I was pointing to the need for the kids to learn communication skills, such as listening as precondition for achieving the task of leading the nations in peace and prosperity by avoiding the violent clashes. Listening is a powerful technique of getting other persons’s attention, thereby gaining control of the relation, and seduction is surely its biggest proof, we agreed.
We spoke about the world getting so interlinked that it now, in an analogy, actually became a proof of a second law of thermodynamics. Once you pour a bottle of ink into a swimming pool, we are thought by the second law, it is physically impossible to get that ink neatly back into the bottle. We agreed that not even a big war at the planet would be able to reverse this trend and the interdependence that was born out of the fact that our population doubled within a generation have sealed our inter-dependence for good.
It is certainly the first time ever in the history of mankind that a population of the planet literally doubled. When I started the elementary school back in the Sixties, I was told there were three billion people on the planet. While it really got crowded by the time I started going to the disco-clubs, I was still surprised to learn how quick have we hit the seven billion mark recently. It must be impossible for mankind to ever again double in size within a single generation, I’ve offered, as this would surely throw us completely off-balance. It is a one-off event in human history, without any precedent and without any guidance in terms of experience. Even our perception seems to be flawed, as we appear not have perceived the importance of the change at its fullest. Consequently, never has a generation ever had to face such an unprecedented level and intensity of change.
I don’t know if this change could be compared with what the few surviving dinosaurs saw through the haze of their post-apocalyptic clouds but I feel it is comparably powerful change of circumstances. In other words, if we do not change our act accordingly we might be faced with the possibility od dying-out. It is a change not only of the entire environment – the game itself changed at once and it keeps changing ever since. However, for some inexplicable reason we seem to have decided that the rules shall remain the same. I sincerely doubt that we can win the new game by sticking to the old rules.
No wonder so many people got lost in the process, marriages being thrown of balance and kids listening to the musing in the streets, said my companion. I agreed: the game did completely change and we really did not change the rules, nor are we teaching our kids to adequately manage populations’ eruption’s consequences. Kids will need to tell us what to do as we are not even trying to provide the answers and generate the necessary change. A thought then occurred to me: if we have produced so many new people and left them to their own devices in building the future WE HAVE EFFECTIVELY CANCELLED HISTORY’S ROLE. I’ve said what I thought and we sat in silence, our glasses empty, our races irrelevant, and our lips numb.
The game has utterly and completely changed by producing so many babies that at this stage the old rules will never provide any meaningful answer to them. There are no models yet guiding us on how to make the rainbow babies and how to handle their painful intercontinental divorces. Yes, we both said looking into each others eyes, there is no more history that can lead us and help us when we don’t know where to turn, there is only future, an uncertain path towards the dawn where we need to get all together.
Probably Fukuyama was right in his way after all, I thought to myself. He might have been right although he was not a Korean, might have thought my companion who liked the country a lot. And that is the story of the night when listening became more important than history.