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A Dialogue on The Age of Tranquility

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Message Harold Novikoff
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Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal, Agra
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It is the monthly meeting of the new Socratic Society. Today there are five members present: the leader - a philosophy professor from the local college, a businessman, a civic leader, a teacher, an interested citizen.

Prof: Well, now that we are all in a good mood after that tea and cake my wife served us, are we ready to begin our discussion?

Bus: By all means. I'm raring to start.

Civ: Where did we leave off at our last meeting?

Tea: We were considering the feasibility of a peaceful world. I made some notes on our meeting, even though we agreed to keep these conversations very casual and spontaneous.

Civ: Oh, yes. I remember now. It is easy to describe a peaceful Utopian society as long as there is no serious intention of trying to make it feasible, since no one would ever believe in such a thing.

Bus: I would agree to that. People are too cynical to fall for that.

Citz: I'm not so sure. If you look far enough ahead in time, things could be much different than they are now. People could get so desperate and despondent by all the little wars and insanity we see today - and especially after the catastrophic events predicted from changing climate - they just may come to their senses and demand a different world.

Tea: I would say some people may be cynical about everything, but there is also a good cynicism that is suspicious when things are not right.

Prof: This dialogue has been going on for centuries. The focus has been mainly on making better government to satisfy people's needs. We talked about the Enlightenment period of philosophy which inspired the French and American revolutions. Its principles are nicely summed up in the preamble to our constitution: establish justice, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of Liberty, etc.

Civ: But we live in a different world today. The issues go far beyond government.

Bus: Yes. It is the economy that rules the world today. The economy rules the government.

Citz. That is the problem. There is much more than the economy we have to think about to make a more peaceful world. In fact, it is the economy - the way it is run today - that is the biggest obstacle to peace. Most wars have their roots in economic matters.

Tea: If there were no wars, is that enough to create a peaceful society? There are other causes of misery and conflict. We should talk about what would make a happy society. Last month we focussed on the word "tranquility". That seems to express more than "peace", if you use "peace" to mean just the absence of war, like a peace treaty - which can be violated.

Prof: I used "The Age of Tranquility" to express a long-lasting period free of war and discontent. It's in the Preamble: "to ensure domestic tranquility".

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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