The ancient city of Constantinople was heralded as a “new Rome” and quickly replaced the old one in splendor and importance. As the western Roman Empire withered and fell, the eastern Christian empire flourished. But after a few centuries of success, their good fortune ran out.
The first recorded bubonic plague killed more than a third of Constantinople’s inhabitants. Then in a series of bloody, expensive wars with the Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and Persians, the city finally stabilized their empire only to see the majority of it swallowed by Muslim conquerors. Add in the coups, civil wars, and a spectacular volcanic eruption off the island of Santorini, and Christians wondered what they did to lose the favor of God.
Fearful citizens allegedly convinced Emperor Leo III that the city’s celebrated icons were to blame; the Lord was punishing Constantinople for the sin of idolatry. Leo and the iconoclasts removed and destroyed images bearing the likeness of Christ and other religious figures to purify the empire and appease an angry God. Other powerful leaders and priests opposed the desecration and pointed to other possible reasons for God’s disfavor.
Christians call this type of debate “theodicy;” an attempt to answer why a good God would allow evil to befall His people. It must be some form of divine testing or punishment — why else would an omnipotent Creator let awful events harm good people?
Here in 2015, the smart set has abandoned such crude mysticism. When a war flares up, a crop fails, or a natural disaster strikes, modern man determines the cause through reason and science. There isn’t some angry sky god creating deadly storms or forcing Muslims to invade their neighbors. Mankind has evolved past these silly superstitions.
Now, as the U.S. leads Western civilization, our President congratulated the 2015 class of the Coast Guard Academy. After spending a single paragraph discussing the Coast Guard’s serious duties (maritime security, disaster response, interdicting drugs, and preventing terrorism) and another paragraph bashing the GOP, he spilled out 2,200 words on a far more important concern: Mankind has angered the earth god Gaia.
Obama insisted that climate change “constitutes a serious threat to global security.” Denying global warming is un-American since it “endangers our national security” and “undermines the readiness of our forces.” The solution is to appease the climate gods. “We need to act — and we need to act now.”
Understand, climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East. So, increasingly, our military and our combatant commands, our services — including the Coast Guard — will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, because you need to be ready.
Around the world, climate change will mean more extreme storms. No single weather event can be blamed solely on climate change. But Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines gave us a possible glimpse of things to come — one of the worst cyclones ever recorded; thousands killed, many more displaced, billions of dollars in damage, and a massive international relief effort that included the United States military and its Coast Guard. So more extreme storms will mean more humanitarian missions to deliver lifesaving help. Our forces will have to be ready.
In essence, every misfortune undermining civilization — war, famine, natural disaster, even high prices — are Gaia’s judgment upon sinful man. The only way we can regain her favor is to destroy these secular icons of modernity. Sacrifice the internal combustion engine. Stop using electricity. Smash capitalism and give your money to Gaia’s high priests.
1,500 years from now, mankind will look back and laugh at our silly superstitions. I wonder if they will call their new explanations “science.”