Last week, we were hit in the face with the realization that we cannot protect ourselves from random acts of terrorism. I suspect that even if we do manage to capture a leader of a particular terrorist group, there are many others willing to make a similar sacrifice for their "cause."
One thing that we can do is to work to improve the lives of all of the people in this world so that they feel that they have something to live for, that their lives have some meaning. When all of the peoples of the world feel that they have something to live for, none of us will tolerate, much less harbor, protect or join terrorist groups.
Every single human being on this Earth has a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (probably all of life, not just humans) and we who are fortunate enough to live in a country whose foundation rests on this principle must make every effort to assure that everyone else enjoys this basic right. Surely we risk losing it if we don't.
Last year, I was in Zambia doing volunteer engineering work to establish an agricultural training school in a small village of hunter-gatherers. The people of the village are slowly starving to death due to a lack of protein in their diet, caused by their extermination of all of the animal life in the area and their lack of farming skills.
I have worked on projects in Borneo, Bolivia, Haiti, India and the Philippines, and, in spite of their dilemmas, these people were the happiest people that I have worked with. I am sure that their happiness is largely due to a lack of oppression and a general lack of interest by the First World in them and the resources of their homeland.
I would like to share with you something that I wrote in my diary while on my flight home from Zambia, titled "Using Mass Communication-Info Technology to Educate the People of the World":
At the beginning of the 21st century, we can well afford to set up a radio-TV education system to be broadcast via satellite in local languages to all parts of the world.
These are some of the things that could be taught:
We could teach people that they have the right to live the way that they want to live, as long as they do not limit others' rights to live the way that they want.
We could teach people in Iraq, Afghanistan, The Republic of Congo and everywhere people are being oppressed that being human gives them the right to be free and to lead healthy and happy lives. If the leadership of the country that they live in does not provide that, they must change it, or move. We in the First World must find effective ways to help them move or change it, if we want to maintain our own freedom.
We could teach all people in the world that it is their unquestionable right to have any spiritual belief that they want, and that everyone else has the same right. No one and no group has the right to limit other people's spiritual beliefs.
We, the First World, have learned to live with each other — different races, cultures, religions, etc. through trading, which we call capitalism. Capitalism is where we willingly trade what we have or what we make for what someone else has or has made. We know that each of us has to be fairly compensated in the trade for capitalism to work. Don't we?
We could teach people how to participate in capitalism in a way that benefits them and improves their lives.
We could teach the idea that all humans must learn to live together in peace, and how to do it. Who has even seen a tree whose branches fought with each other? How long would one survive if it did? How much longer will we survive if we continue to fight with each other?
We live in a world where one fifth of the population — over a billion of us — goes to bed hungry every night, while more than enough food to remedy this problem is wasted each day. Can we use technology to stop the increasing gap between the haves and have nots and begin to reduce it?
In our rush to the 21st century, we have created an environment where a large number of the peoples of the world have become an endangered species. People deserve our efforts to protect them just as much as the whales, owls and Pacific salmon do.
Editor's note: Greg Miller is a civil engineer and surveyor who lives on St. Thomas and works on St. John. He is active in EMI, a Christian engineering volunteer program, and is also pursuing second career as a photographer.
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