2020 Vision

Back in 2001, following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers there were Kabbalah teachers who pointed out a prophecy in the Zohar predicting “the fall of (three) towers in the city of Rome.”  What was most impressive in that text was the date listed (that section of the Zohar was written no later than 1300), a day in the Hebrew month of Elul.  Remarkably, in 2001, that date fell on September 11th. On further inspection of the text in the Zohar it is clear that the context and other details do not fit that infamous day in the new Rome, New York City. “Further inspection” is the key to disclosing that prophetic predictions, such as the famous quatrains of Nostradamus, don’t match up with a first blush of correspondence to historical events.

There is one prophetic text though in Zohar that has fascinated many—it is a prediction of the evolution of human consciousness “every 60 years” starting in the Hebrew calendar year of 5,600 (the present year is 5,799).  What that translates into is that starting with the year 1840 you count 60 years for the next leap of consciousness.  The ensuing years then are 1900, 1960 and coming up, 2020.  While every year and certainly every decade brings advancement, it is the underlying teaching that is implied by this Zohar text that signals optimism for our growth in understanding and awareness. Keep in mind that the Zohar’s dates are tracking the Hebrew calendar which “happen” to correspond to years we assign special meaning.

In less than 120 years we have progressed in our science from Einsteinian to Quantum physics, from our discovery of planets in our solar system to recognizing that our solar system is but one of trillions in thousands of galaxies. We have progressed, slowly and fitfully, toward gender, sexual and racial equality and are only now realizing our place among the interconnected bio and ecosphere. We have only begun to evolve beyond dogmatic religious or secular philosophies and fantasies. We don’t need perfect vision, but if 2020 is to be another leap forward in our awareness we certainly need to heed and learn from our mistaken notions and take one giant step forward in consciousness.


anita khaldy kehmeier · February 21, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Please attend the Colorado Environmental Film Festival this week end…Feb 21,22,23 -2019.

Anita Khaldy Kehmeier · February 25, 2019 at 11:45 am

President Trump makes the job of a feminist security analyst almost too easy. No subtle teasing out of subtexts required with this guy.

Something seemed to click for people across the political spectrum this week, even among those least inclined to see the world through a gendered lens: When Mr. Trump tweeted, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” the nuclear saber-rattling at Kim Jong-un of North Korea sounded a lot like, well, penis-measuring.

Sad. But significant? From most commentators, the response has been an eye-rolling dismissal of Mr. Trump’s tweet as “juvenile” — yet one more impulsive, impolitic, dangerous and unpresidential act by a president like no other. But methinks not only that the president doth protest too much about his “Nuclear Button,” but also that many commentators are still missing the point. This is not simply a trivial, if embarrassing, sideshow.

Ideas about masculinity and femininity matter in international politics, in national security and in nuclear strategic thinking. Mr. Trump — with his fragile ego and his particularly obsessive concern with his reputation for manliness — may have brought these dynamics to the surface, but they have been there all along, if in less crude and lurid ways.

I started thinking about this over three decades ago, when I was working among civilian nuclear strategists, war planners, weapons scientists and arms controllers. What struck me was how removed they were from the human realities behind the weapons they discussed. This distancing occurred in part through a professional discourse characterized by stunningly abstract and euphemistic language — and in part through a set of lively sexual metaphors.

The human bodies evoked were not those of the victims; instead, there were conversations about vertical erector launchers, thrust-to-weight ratios, soft lay downs, deep penetration and the comparative advantages of protracted versus spasm attacks — or what one military adviser to the National Security Council called “releasing 70 to 80 percent of our megatonnage in one orgasmic whump.”

But it quickly became clear that the role of gender in national security discourse went deeper than not-so-subtle metaphors. Even more disturbing was how it shaped what could be said, or even thought, within the confines of these male-dominated spaces. “What are you, some kind of wimp?” was an insult readily lobbed at anyone who urged restraint in responding to a provocation or attack. Discussion of whether political leaders “had the stones for war” suggested that the desire to solve a conflict through nonmilitary measures would mean you were less than fully manly. During the Cuban missile crisis, when Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze disparaged some of President John F. Kennedy’s more cautious decisions by calling him a “pantywaist,” he made it clear that anyone who let himself be governed by fear of setting off a nuclear war was a sissy.

Overt impugning of masculinity is still only the most surface level at which ideas about gender play out in strategic thinking. They work in deeper, more subtle ways too. The culturally pervasive associations of masculinity with dispassion, distance, abstraction, toughness and risk-taking, and of femininity with emotion, empathy, bodily vulnerability, fear and caution, are embedded within the professional discourse.

And there they function to make some kinds of ideas seem self-evidently “realist,” hard-nosed and rational, and others patently inadmissible, self-evidently inappropriate. (One white male physicist told me that he and colleagues were once modeling a limited nuclear attack when he suddenly voiced dismay that they were talking so casually about “only 30 million” immediate deaths. “It was awful — I felt like a woman,” he said.)

In other words, embedded ideas about gender in nuclear strategic discourse go beyond questions of whether a button is more than just a button. They act as a deterrent to more holistic, and therefore truly realistic, thinking about nuclear weapons and the holocaust that would result from their use.

Mainstream national security analysts have been reluctant to think seriously — or at all — about the ways that ideas about gender shape national security. So if Mr. Trump’s disparagement of Mr. Kim’s manhood somehow does not wind up bringing us yet closer to war with North Korea, then perhaps he has in one sense done us a favor. He has made it glaringly evident that while the literal button or penis size of Mr. Trump or Mr. Kim matters not at all, their need for the world to believe that they are manly men does.

What we now need to remember is that Mr. Trump is, in this respect, not an exception. Yes, the fear of being perceived as unmanly may be closer to the surface in Mr. Trump. And it may drive his statements and actions in ways less leavened by cognitive capacity and attention span, or by empathy and the ability to imagine the impact of one’s actions on others, or by intelligence or prudence.

But this is not about individual men or women. Ideas about masculinity and femininity already distort the ways we think about international politics and national security. And they matter. They mattered before Mr. Trump, they matter now, and they will matter after Mr. Trump, if he is somehow kept under control and there is an after. Most national security analysts, from the academy to the mass media to the executive branch, have ignored this reality for too long, to all of our peril.
Carol Cohn is the director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
You are right…we do not need 2020 vision,but we do need laser like precision for a more corrected vision.

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