At The Edge of The Abyss, Again

Here we stand at the edge of an abyss, gazing down at world war. Again. And almost no one grasps the reality of it: it’s all images flying across screens and propagandists seizing emotions. Thinking, world wide, has constricted to the application of binary labels: Good Guy or Bad Guy. And it is presently stuck right there.

Were’ now at the edge of our third world war in just over a century, and that ignores the near misses we’ve had with nuclear exchanges.

The first of those (World War I) was so close to us in time that both of my grandfathers fought in it, and I’m not that old. There are soldiers from World War II still alive. And now we stand at the edge again, elites raging against one another while whole populations are thrown, or are about to be thrown, into a grinder.

The propaganda has been so fast and loud that almost no one realizes what world war signifies. It’s all just screen stuff. The edge of the abyss is still outside the kill zone, after all.

In the late 1980s a study on war was published by a large church organization. It was immediately ignored, declared to be flawed, and forgotten. But I think of that study at times like this. Perhaps it was flawed, but no one, so far as I know, went about to correct it, or to run a better one. More than that, I’ve spent decades immersed in history myself, and I know that the study was, at least more or less, correct.

What the study found was that since 3600 BC there have been more than 14,000 wars, and that over that immense length of time, they could identify only about 200 years in which a war didn’t occur. I think that’s something to hold in mind, as raging overlords move their chess pieces around a bloody globe.

I can explain why this happens, and why it has continued to happen, but I don’t think that’s especially useful just right now. What I really want to communicate is the fact that we are on the edge of an abyss, and that war is not virtual. Nor would this one be a clean war in an empty desert.

None of the “leaders” involved in this are Good Guys. This situation could have been avoided in a dozen ways, but they ran us directly into it anyway. They are incompetent, unwilling or simply driven to be the big monkey at the top of the hill. They are not to be championed or excused. War is abject failure, and both sides stand condemned.


Paul Rosenberg