Our anonymous ancestors discovered fire. They lit their nights thereafter. Apex predators that had preyed on them before felt fear evermore. Cooked meat freed their metabolisms to generate cognitive growth.
How long after did the first of our anonymous ancestors turn fire against another? Was its use the first weapon of mass destruction, in a time when wars between rival bands were fought with sticks and stones?
Thus have we always turned a phenomena for peace into a weapon of war.
Consider Archimedes of Syracuse. The ancient Greek mathematician utilized his discipline like Mozart composed music. His practices, comparable to Issac Newton’s calculus, led to many mathematical discoveries, relevant even today.
Especially today, for he is the first ancient to calculate Pi.
The peaceful mathematician, however, was also the war engineer. The Syracusians used his Claw and Heat Ray to resist the besieging Romans during the Second Punic War. When the legions breached the city, a soldier killed Archimedes, whom the commanding General, Marcellus, had ordered captured alive.
We have always found it easier to destroy than create. Ask the first primordial pyrotech. Ask the Legionnaire that wiped the blood of “a geometrical Briareus” off his gladius. Ask the refugees that survived the slaughterhouses of war.
And yet, we still create. And discover. Fire. Pi. Civilization, itself. Our hope, as always, lies in our choice: Life or Death. May we choose wisely.
a flutter of needles
in a Spring breeze
waiting for the day when we
beat our swords into plowshares
for 14th March 2020 prompt: Gerry Muse #198 (occasional tanka prose) A Time of War, A Time of Peace