The passage of Hurricane Irma through the Caribbean has given many of us reason to pause and to reflect on the power of prayer, or lack thereof, to protect some of us from the catastrophic ravages of the storm. Many of us in the Federation are relieved to be spared the full onslaught of the eye, but in this situation, where some in the region fared worse than others, how do we reconcile the different outcomes? Why would God be on our side and not with those who suffered the devastations in the storm’s path? Are we somehow a more deserving people than others or were we just lucky?
These questions raise for me many deep issues of why we pray, and how they may be related to the insecurities and vulnerabilities that come to the fore when we deal with the uncertainties in everyday life. What I propose to do in this missive is to elaborate some more on how prayer fits within my new-found world-view of life, or better yet, my new-found life-view of the world.
For me, prayer is a sort of meditation, a kind of self-reflection on major issues of life-concern, that is projected as a conversation with a Higher Consciousness that is able to relate to, understand and guide us through the challenging times. Whether prayer is a cognitive or emotional mental crutch, that provides us with a false sense of security to help us focus resolutely on the tasks at hand, may explain its life-utility, irrespective if our prayers are answered or not.
For me, the majority of my prayers are not for a specific outcome, but for the strength, understanding and wisdom to do the best I can and accept the consequences, irrespective of the outcome of the life-challenges that come my way. I generally choose to see all outcomes in a positive light, as blessings and lessons learnt. When blessings undeservedly come my way, I remind myself that to whom much is given, much more is expected. And when lessons are being learnt from less-than-positive experiences, I tell myself better now than later, as I can begin to implement the insights gained in adapting to or mitigating the negative consequences next time the situation arises in my life, or in the life of another unsuspecting victim of similar circumstance.
With regards to the power of prayer as it pertains to the passage of Hurricane Irma, here are my thoughts on the issue. It is selfish of us to pray for the protection of some and not for all peoples from the ravages of the storm, and it is also selfish of us to express our gratitude for being spared when many have suffered due to its ill-effects. This discriminate “chosenness” of peoples, reeks of divine exceptionalism, and makes the Almighty Creator morph into an Author of Collusion and Confusion, as suffering anywhere becomes suffering everywhere. By focusing on individual salvation over that of the collective, we are paying lip service to the saving grace of this most advanced form of communication technology that has the power to change the world from within.
Since I chose to see human suffering not as divine punishment but human consequences of our not-knowing-any-better (aka ignorance), then the most empowering frame of mind and heart presents itself. Hurricanes are natural heat engines that serve to redistribute heat and water from regions that are hot to regions that are cooler, and in the process they transport large amounts of water and recirculate nutrients in the ocean and over the land. As a result, they are not intrinsically bad or evil but play a major role in planetary equilibrium/homeostasis. The problem arises when we build physical and social infrastructures that fail to predict and deal with the potential stresses and strains that arise from their passage, which is no fault of the hurricane or nature/God but that of our lack of foresight, prudence and planning or the inability to implement the wisdom of the lessons learnt along the way.
We now know that the hotter the planet becomes, the more heat that needs to be redistributed, and the more powerful the hurricanes become, more catastrophes will occur. By not taking steps to collectively deal with this major global driver of climate destabilization by reducing green house gases, we would only be praying and not moving our feet. By not upgrading our utilities infrastructure and making them hurricane (and earthquake) resilient so as to have minimal down-time from major electricity, water and telephone failures for days despite being “spared,” is also praying and not moving our feet. By rebuilding communities with the same designs of buildings that succumb in the past over and over again, and not making our homes up to date with the latest aerodynamic hurricane protective features that can be powered with the latest renewable energy technologies, then we again are only praying and not moving our feet. When unscrupulous politicians and businesses capitalize on disasters to feather their cap and put their private interests before the public they serve, their calls of prayers for thanksgiving will be pointing in one direction, but their feet may be moving, but may be trespassing in another direction.
The best prayer that was a source of inspiration for me and many others was provided by a very close friend just before the passage of Irma, and it reflects the African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.”
This prayer can be expanded to include everyone where “me” become “we” and “my house” becomes “our planet”. It is when we acknowledge our blessings and lessons learnt, and we move our hands and feet to make the planet and our communities safer and more resilient to these forces of nature, then we will be serving the Lord, to the best of our abilities, with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our spirit and all of our might.
A step in this direction is encapsulated in the grand vision of the late Jacque Fresco as shown in the video below.
And his vision of circular cities with buildings that are hurricane and earthquake resilient should be given serious consideration as we pray with one mind to bring into reality in one accord a more beautiful, safer, healthier, peaceful and resilient world our heart knows is possible.
It would be far easier and would require less energy to build new, efficient cities than to attempt to update and solve the problems of the old ones. We believe that the present state and aims of architecture need to be redefined to fit the evolving needs of individuals in a Resource Based Economy. We consider the architecture of a circular city to be most appropriate.
The Circular Arrangement
The Venus Project proposes a circular city plan that would utilize the most sophisticated available resources and construction techniques. Its geometrically elegant and efficient circular arrangement will be surrounded by parks and lovely gardens, which will be incorporated into the city design. All cities will be designed to operate with the minimum expenditure of energy using the cleanest technologies available, which will be in harmony with nature to obtain the highest possible standard of living for everyone.
The city is divided into radial sectors and circular belts. The circular scheme offers maximum efficiency, bringing each radial sector closer to the central dome. People traveling within the city could easily return to the same place from where they started without having to take the same route back like in most linear cities. Only one part of the city is designed and replicated eight times to form the entire city using far fewer resources than conventional methods.
Circular City Layout
A typical circular city is comprised of the following:
- The central dome or theme center will house the core of the cybernated system, educational facilities, computerized communications, networking systems, health and child care facilities.
- The eight buildings surrounding the central dome contain the access centers.
- The three rings of buildings adjacent to the access centers house the research facilities.
- The next band provides the community with centers for cultural activities such as the arts, theater, exhibitions, concerts, exercise facilities and various forms of entertainment. There are also dining and other amenities.
- The eight residential districts have a variety of free form unique architecture to fulfill the various needs of the occupant. Each home is immersed in lovely gardens isolating one from another with lush landscaping.
- The skyscrapers will be a convenient place to live housing restaurants, educational facilities, entertainment, hobby areas, along with apartments.
- Next are the indoor hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic facilities and outdoor agricultural belts which will be used to grow a wide variety of organic plants without the use of pesticides.
- A circular waterway for irrigation and filtration surrounds the agricultural belt.
- The outermost perimeter is utilized for recreational activities such as biking, golfing, hiking and riding. Areas are set aside for renewable clean sources of energy such as wind generators, solar, heat concentrating systems, geothermal, photovoltaic and others.
Self Contained Dwellings
The architecture and individual dwellings of circular cities will evolve on an entirely different basis from today’s houses. Their structural elements will be flexible and coherently arranged to best serve individual preference. The prefabricated, modular homes, embodying a high degree of flexibility, could be built anyplace one might imagine, amidst forests, atop mountains, or on remote islands.
All of these dwellings can be designed as self-contained residences with their own thermal generators and heat concentrators. Photovoltaic arrays would be built into the skin of the building and into the windows themselves. Thermopanes would be used to tint out the bright sunlight by variable patterns of shading. All these features could be selected by the occupant to supply more than enough of the energy required to operate the entire household.
Homes could be prefabricated of a new type of pre-stressed, reinforced concrete with a flexible ceramic external coating that would be relatively maintenance-free, fireproof, and impervious to the weather. Their thin shell construction can be mass-produced in a matter of hours. With this type of construction, there would be minimal damage from earthquakes and hurricanes.
Maintaining a balance between the population and the earth’s carrying capacity, we may have to move our cities not only skyward and seaward but subterranean as well.
University Cities for Global Resource Management
The circular cities would act as universities for global resource management and environmental studies, and as testing grounds for each future phase of global development. These would be dynamic, continually evolving research institutes open to all of the society.
Student performance would be based on competence accreditation, and research findings would be periodically applied directly to the social structure to benefit all members of the world society. People will live in these research cities and provide feedback on the reliability and serviceability of the various structures. This information would be used to formulate modifications to structures so that maximum efficiency, comfort, and safety is assured. These facilities are also used to develop modular construction systems and components that can be installed to serve a wide range of needs and preferences. In most instances, the external appearance of the buildings will reflect the function of the building.