Technology and Terror

Jim Blasingame

After thousands of years of civilization, here are two things known about humans:

1. We still haven’t fully mastered the concept of getting along with each other.

2. The worst human behavior is more or less held in check by the prime principle of the value of life.

Evidence of the latter being more compelling than the former is our continued existence.
For example:

During the last great conflict, the Cold War, human behavior manifested in perhaps the classic example of balance between the best and worst of human traits. Our great intellect gave us the ability to produce weapons capable of virtual global human annihilation, and our lesser traits caused us to then arm and aim those weapons at each other. But after a half-century of tension, ultimately, the parties chose life over using their weapons.

But three years ago this month, the belief that life having value would deter certain behavior turned into an illusion when civilization was attacked by an ironic form of barbarism. Without respect for any international convention or moral standard, 19 evil humans at once took the lives of 3,000 innocents and declared war on the civilized world.

This barbarism was ironic because these followers of radical Islam employed to their murderous advantage one of the icons of the very society they claim to hate, technology. Indeed, the same humans who would take 21st century civilization back to the Stone Age, have adopted some of our most advanced technologies to coordinate and conduct their evil deeds, and then claim those crimes as they communicate their demented world view.

But just as technology is the ironic lever of those who place no value on life, it also can be one of the most effective levers of those who do. When individuals who seek to live in tolerance connect with each other through technologies like the Internet, we do two very special things: communicate and conduct business.

The carcinogens that give rise to the cancer of terrorism are ignorance and intolerance. But little by little, intolerance born of ignorance dies a quick death the moment an eBay seller in Kankakee, Ill., connects with an eBay buyer in Kabul, Afghanistan.

And when a small business owner in Bangor, Maine, shares a best practice with a small business owner in Baghdad, Iraq, the ugliness of hatred can morph into the beautiful discovery of shared values.

The 19th century French economist, Frederic Bastiat, said, “When goods cross borders, armies don’t.” Thanks to technology, never in the history of humanity have goods – and values – been able to cross so many borders so quickly and efficiently as today.

And in a post 9-11 world, there are no better good humans than small business owners to use the powerful lever of technology to strike at the core of terrorism.

Write this on a rock... Small business owners, go forth into the world doing what you do best: valuing life, building relationships, doing business and doing good.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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