New Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Peaceful Kind of Weapons
Somewhere along the line, humanity seems to have forgotten that “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
Maybe it was with the invention of the bow and arrow some 1700 years ago, which allowed us to take down our enemies from a distance. Or maybe it was with the invention of pistons and machine guns, and their usage in WWI which allowed us not only to kill from a distance but also to kill without even aiming properly.
But arguably, it was the invention of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) that played a role in ending WWII.
In 2020, we are painfully aware that one wrong move in the international stage could lead to a catastrophic chain of events. And as people joke, we can now blow the world to smithereens with the accidental push of a button.
Yet if you look closely at the history of all these weapons, it’s a curious fact that Germany or Germans played a role in either developing or perfecting these weapons. This is not at all to say that Germans are a problem whatsoever; on the contrary, there may be something about the German mind frame that allows for efficiency beyond the cliches (I would say it’s evident in the language, which also impacted German/Austrian national history, but more on this another time).
So as I sit here on my bed in Munich, Germany, I would like to work on a new weapon of mass destruction while simultaneously honoring old adages.
The Lessons of a Virus
Right now, a lot of the world is isolated. We are quarantined. Stuck at home and isolated. Unable to see our families out of fear of killing them (or rather, spreading the cause of their eventual death). In what follows, please bear in mind that I am by no means neglecting or downlplaying the death toll and suffering of both the sick and those who care for them. My focus is on the living, and on what we can and should do during and after this pandemic (if it’s even possible to mark an ending point).
A lot of people hate the isolation and can’t put up with it much longer.
Others are having the time of their lives (🙋)
From my observation, the ones who hate it and can’t stand it much longer are used to being surrounded by people (not just persons, people). They love social interaction, they crave human contact, and are likely more extroverted. And I don’t only mean individuals, I mean societies as well. Hence why the cheerful Spaniards and Italians started off with huge numbers, and so did the Americans, especially during election season.
Meanwhile the more introverted and ‘depressive’ German and East Asian cultures decided “ok, we need rules for this” and by and large they have mostly followed them (yes, I know, Sweden took another approach and Austria is on a massive spike right now). Don’t quote me too precisely on this. I am such an anti-realist who despises the very idea of “nation”, that I can’t even believe I am using those terms in this article. If anything, the very weapons I’m developing here are precisely aimed at that outdated concept of “nations”.
You can usually tell who the introverts are because when we’re locked up we suddenly start getting all creative. We know why the caged bird sings, so we sing (but in private, of course, because #introvert). I wish I could reference all of my friends who started a creative endeavor during this pandemic. Some dance, some draw, I write, and there’s a reason why it feels as though everyone is starting a podcast these days (and that’s a good thing! You do you, baby!)
The point is that this virus, all across the world has done one major thing: isolate the masses (or at least start to).
Again please don’t accuse me of a lack of sensitivity towards the dead. But I’m not here to send cliché “thoughts and prayers”, I’m here to offer a genuine virtual hug (which is a lot more personal) and provide ideas on how to move forward.
On that note…
The Idea is Mightier than the Bomb
What I am trying to highlight as a lesson from COVID-19 is not destroying in masses (like bombs do) but destroying the masses (by isolating them). In other words “splitting masses into individuals”.
Look at what the virus did to us.
It divided countries, separated families and even split individuals apart in terms of their mental health (obviously correlated to a loss of jobs/income, loss of social contact, and loss of routines). Is there a better way to “divide and conquer” anything than with something invisible and contagious?
Before you throw stones at me for sitting on a high horse of privilege because “I can afford to sit here and write articles online while others suffer”, let me tell you something. I am one of those who is unemployed, and I was cut off from many of my friends in this city. My beloved parents, brother and grandma also live on the other side of the Atlantic and I depend on a work visa to stay here, so in terms of populations at risk of mental health disorders and depression, I am essentially a unicorn.
Yet I said, I am having the “time of my life”. Why?
Because I’ve officially lost it, duh. Kidding. Because I have been forced to develop a sickening level of mental health (paradox intended). My world has fallen apart over and over and over again so many times, that I even tell friends how funny this has become. “Of course that happened, of course, because fuck it, why not?!”😂. My personal WWI happened when I was 15 when I went through massive isolation and depression. Then I had WWII at 23 when I left my family and friends “forever”.
So I guess that helped me prevent personal WWIII during this pandemic.
Friends, I am not an idealist because I live in a bubble and haven’t ‘learned’ “how the world works”, I am an idealist because I learned how to make bubbles, and that makes me as happy as a child.
Sticks and Stones
There’s a quote attributed to Einstein (though disputed) that says WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones. Whoever actually said it first, was sure to say they don’t know how WWIII will be fought. Well, amigos, sorry to break it to you but WWIII is here. It’s happening right now. And it’s mostly in our minds, permeating through our societies.
It’s a war of words.
It’s a war of ideas.
It’s a war of identity.
What do we do to prevent infections? How do we re-build the economy or prevent it from crashing? Why don’t people understand that this is better than that? How could this person believe that thing? I can’t go to the movies, restaurant, or do anything, so what do I do? “Quarantine led to my breakup” or “as a single person I can’t meet new people”, so how long am I going to be alone?
No matter what your problem is right now, it likely boils down to identity. Between you and your society. You and your partner/family/friends. You and yourself. So again, this IS essentially WWIII because of the global destruction of people, economies, and identities. And all we can do is talk about it rather than throw bombs because, well, 1.5m distance please.
We all know the saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words shall never hurt me”. And that’s the irony isn’t it? Words do hurt, sometimes even more than weapons because their wounds don’t always heal. Once you understand them, there is no vaccine against and little immunity to “words”. They change you. You either embrace them or resist them, and you do this whether you realize it or not.
It is those who can’t handle the ideas in their minds that often get violent (verbally or physically). Sometimes it’s their own thoughts, other times it’s ideas that migrated into their heads from somewhere else. Believe me, words are my weapon of choice in every war. Find the right words, and people will probably punch you, but if you know they swing right, then you’ve essentially already dodged the punch you made them throw. If they are clever enough with weaponry, they will grab a stick to hit you with. And the more sophisticated fighters know they don’t even have to be close to you, they’ll throw a stone.
That is why if all goes well, sticks and stones will indeed be the weapons of WWIV. We will be back “full circle”, hopefully not because our physical world was shattered apart by atomic bombs, but because you will no longer be able to rely on masses to fight wars for you and your ego. It’ll be just you vs me, mano a mano in a battle of ideas.
I’d tell you what I have in mind for “us” as a global society, BUT… that sort of idea is a bit nuclear, so I need to be careful with both social chemistry and people’s chain reaction. I wouldn’t want to… blow up on you 😂😘