“What can we do to combat best this great evil [war]?”
My great-grandfathers, father, eldest brother and a nephew served in the US military during most all our wars. I’m a peacenik-type (“Woodstock,” cannabis, all that) but can understand and respect their strong, personal sense of duty & patriotism as war veterans. What’s most troubling to me is the still-unanswered question the great scientist Nikola Tesla posed to the world more than 120 years ago:
An inventor of household electricity, our car’s ignition-switch, radio (many things we still use today) qualifies as a “wise” man, wouldn’t you say? Dr. Tesla (let’s give him the honorable doctorate he earned & deserves) addressed the subject of war to a convention of other scientists in Texas in 1900.
His paper was titled: “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy with Special References to the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy” and sub-titled: “The Onward Movement of Man — The Energy of the Movement — The Three Ways of Increasing Human Energy.”
The article, published by “Century Magazine” can be read here: @ online
Tesla pointed out that war not only kills our young, “the ablest, flower of humanity, compelled to a life of inactivity & unproductiveness” but also consumes “immense sums of money daily required for the maintenance of armies and war apparatus, representing ever so much of human energy….
“…all the effort uselessly spent in the production of arms and implements of destruction.”
He backed-up his words with science proving Earth has a finite amount of nonrenewable natural resources and their misuse will slow-down human progress; the “onward movement of man” will eventually grind to a halt.
Nikola grieved about “the loss of life & the fostering of a barbarous spirit….” and (before both world wars) was “appalled at the inestimable loss to mankind which the existence of these deplorable conditions must involve.”
Addressing the Texas convention of scientists in 1900, the great scientist, engineer, mathematician, inventor — the father of Modern America — Tesla asked his peers earnestly: “What can we do to combat best this great evil?”
His own answer was simple: he urged “an international agreement with the object of reducing to a minimum the war-force.” He explored ideas like no nation can have more weapons than needed to defeat an invading neighbor.
That was in 1900. Had we listened to this one piece of practical advice — to demilitarize — suggested by a pretty smart, European-American genius & dreamer…imagine how far advanced Earth and humanity could be today.
Alas, the continuing “fostering of a barbarous spirit” has vanquished the American Dream for many; some cling to only illusions today. “‘Hope springs eternal’!” the obsessive-optimist Nikola Tesla would reply with his reassuring smile and lightening-blue eyes.
I, however, fear there’s not enough “human energy” or willpower left to end wars, and that our children — “the ablest, flower of humanity” — will continue to be fed to war machines and killed: which kills the human spirit & progress.
That’s my opinion, but I’m in a pessimistic mood today, although last night’s “American Experience” Nikola Tesla program was uplifting, thanks PBS!
I also re-took this story-photo weeks later, after “Generation X” taggers had blacked-out the V in “Lives” to read “John Lennon Lies.” Those kids knew the truth way back in the late-’80’s: we can only wish “All you Need is Love.”
We need more than love; and more than just “hope” — Humanity needs the will to shut down the war machine, the so-called military-industrial complex.
That’s my answer to Dr. Nikola Tesla’s question to the world. What’s your answer? “What can we do to combat best this great evil [war]?” ~Thomas