10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. — Matthew 3:10-12 (KJV)
29 For our God is a consuming fire. — Hebrews 12:29 (KJV)
There are a myriad references in the Christian Bible to fire as a purgatory, purifier, baptizer, and consumer. Historically, man has used fire to manage vegetation, maximize food production, contain undesirable plants and pathogens, harvest desirable plant communities for livestock or wildlife, reduce fuel loads, and restore historical disturbance regimes (David A. Pike, Matthew L. Brooks, Carla D’Antonio, “Fire as a Restoration Tool: A Decision Framework for Predicting the Control or Enhancement of Plants Using Fire,” Restoration Ecology, 2010). As restoration ecologists have shown, fire is a highly effective restorative tool. However, one does not need to be an ecologist or a Christian to acknowledge the utility of fire.
Religion and ecology aside, fire – the act of purging, purifying, and restoring by fire – is an apt call to action today. Now, more than ever, we must ignite a globalizing dialogue to purge our past miscues and its ensuing calamities in the global arena. There is no excuse to delay any further.
Through electronic technologies, individuals have already mediated their effective agency at the world arena, thus defying classical limitations of time, space, and geography. At the quantum level, scientists have stumbled upon the pentaquark giving us an informative glimpse into the composition and life of the neutron star (Gautam Naik, “Scientists Discover An Elusive Particle,” The Wall Street Journal, 15 July 2015). At the cosmological level, NASA scientists are gathering more accurate data on our galaxy and reconsidering past decisions about Pluto, Ceres, the Kuiper belt, and the asteroid belt (David A. Weintraub, “Pluto a Planet Again? It May Happen This Year,” The Crux, 25 February 2015).
In science and technology, we are accomplishing extraordinary feats. At the individual level, we are leveraging our creativity in ‘outside-of-the-box’ ways to effect meaningful change (please see my prior posts referencing Bolter and Grusin, Mackenzie Wark, and/or Howard Rheingold). And yet, at the international political arena, we have yet to see an equal level of innovative creativity towards communicative action in the name of effective collaboration. From disparity to unity, will our world’s nations ever bridge their ties of discord?
As with all communication, syntax – in tandem with semantics and pragmatics – is critical. The inflammatory connotation of “ignite” is apropos for the kind of global dialogue necessary today [hence the title of my book Igniting an East-West Globalizing Dialogue Volume I: Thus Spoke Chuang Tzu (www.outskirtspress.com/thusspokechuangtzu.php)]. It is imperative that we burn all remnants of our past miscues and oversights of cultural ignorance and insensitivity. For a comprehensively educated viewpoint (CEV) of cultural nuances among nations and between individuals across cultural boundaries, let us take the first step to emblazon a bold new path.
And after the embers fade, the land will be restored anew and so too, his soul for “[i]f a plant cannot live accordingly to nature, it dies; and so a man” (Henry David Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience).