If you don’t like what you are seeing in reality, you can escape to your imagination, fleeing from the known to the unknown. This is the reality for people today, particularly those in the Middle East who are facing desperate hardships, whether we are talking about the brutal butcher knives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the provocative discourse of the turbaned imams of Khomeini’s Iran. In addition to all this, we have unemployment, overcrowding and a series of wars, conflicts and crimes stretching from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, Yemen and Libya. So what is left? Oh, yes, there is the chaos that is raging in Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Away from political corruption and ideological crises, there are a number of other problems that do not differentiate between one’s color or creed; here I am talking about issues that will affect the entire earth.
There has been a population explosion; the earth is teeming with people, putting pressure on food and water resources, and even our atmosphere. This is not to mention talk about energy crises and the like. However the greatest problem of all is the issue of global warming and climate change—this is a problem that has created, according to some analysts and researchers, a new ideology of secular humanism.
Mostly in the West, there are those who believe that climate change is man-made, due to humanity’s reckless burning of fossil fuels, and so there is a move now to place limits on greenhouse gas emission. However there is another camp that believes that this phenomenon has been exaggerated, or indeed completely made-up, for political purposes and specifically in order to target developing countries.
The Nature journal issued a special analysis this month indicating that 41 percent of all amphibians on the planet are now facing extinction, while 26 percent of mammal species and 13 percent of birds face similar threats. This is a state of affairs that threatens the world with a “mass extinction”—defined as one involving a loss of 75 percent of species or more—within the next few centuries. This is all, according to the report, due to man-made practices.
At the same time, other respected international scientists have said that all this talk about global warming is politically, not scientifically, motivated. While every now and then, we hear news that an asteroid or meteorite is on course to hit the Earth, potentially wiping out all life—just like what happened millions of years ago to kill off the dinosaurs, according to some accounts.
In the meantime, we follow news of space exploration missions to nearby planets searching for any sign of extraterrestrial life, particularly in our closest neighbor the red planet Mars. NASA continues to bring us news, and even images, of this distant world taken from its rover Curiosity, which continues to relay images and information.
So yes, there is scientific passion, and economic considerations, in all of these efforts; but this does not hide the basic concern that we have regarding the state of affairs on our own planet.
Who wants to share a world with ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi or Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Al-Suleimani or Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah? What about Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi or Al-Qaeda in Yemen leader Nasir Al-Wuhayshi?
Ultimately, it is the image of Islam itself that is being harmed the most by this corruption, destruction and chaos. The solution lies in focusing on fixing the problems on this world, not seeking out another.