We met on December 4th at which time we noted that it was the anniversary of the U.S. Senate, in 1945, approving U.S. membership in the United Nations, as well as the 1998 launch by NASA of the first American component of the International Space Station, the Unity module. Also December 4th is the anniversary, in 1131, of the Muslim/Persian scientist/mathematician/poet Omar Khayyam. Khayyam was not like Muslims we hear about today, though. Although best remembered as the author of the Rubaiyat, Khayyam also wrote this:
“Men talk of heaven, - there is no heaven but here;
Men talk of hell, - there is no hell but here;
Men of hereafters talk and future lives,
O love, there is no other life – but here.”
“As far as you can avoid it, do not give grief to anyone. Never inflict your rage on another. If you hope for eternal rest, feel the pain yourself; but don’t hurt others.”
Our Moment of Science was on the subject of how Japanese researchers have identified neural pathways in zebrafish that strongly influence whether, in a fight, the fish wins or loses. These regions of the brain - the habenula and the interpeduncular nucleus - are highly conserved in vertebrates. We have them too! Of course, it is obvious that everything about us, including individual appetites for conflict, have a physical/neural basis. The implications go far beyond A Clockwork Orange.
Finally, we considered a wide variety of thoughts an ideas relating to the subject of World Peace. We learned that the first academic chair devoted to the study and teaching of International Relations was established less than 100 years ago, in Wales, in 1919. But how many world leaders today have any education, training or expertise, much less enjoy any distinctions in the science of conflict resolution and international law? No! Journalists never even ask what someone's qualifications are to manage foreign policy and, if they do, they accept someone's saying that they learned on the job. Isn't this like allowing someone to fly an airliner because they saw a TV show where someone did it or they watched someone else do it or even tried it themselves? Would any sane person allow someone to operate on their brain who just did it a few times (or even quite a few times)?
We watched two videos: two cartoons entitled "Peace on Earth" and "Goodwill To Men. These were produced in 1939 and 1955 respectively. They presented post-apocalytic worlds inhabited only by animals who could not understand why the humans had destroyed themselves, especially since the humans had a book that said "Thou shalt not kill" and "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself."
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