Honestly…if this doesn’t fit under the rubric of “randomness”, then I don’t understand the word.
While cruising through the channels that comprise our cable system of choice, I happened upon a program from History Channel International. As the program was dubbed in French, and my command of this language is still dubious at best, I was unable to understand all that was being said. The program I was watching was Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and this particular episode was dealing with a bit of Americana that I never knew existed, the Georgia Guidestones.
You can read all the details about this structure located in Elbert County, Georgia, from the Wikipedia article I linked to in the preceding paragraph.
I’m not going to get into who created this monument, who owns it, and all the interesting astronomical facts about it. My interest was raised during the program when I was able to read some of the inscriptions that are chiseled into the granite.
These ten inscriptions appeared to be rules, suggestions, guidelines, or even commandments to the people reading them about how to live life and be in a harmonious Universe.
Hmmm…a giant stone monument with guidelines. Where have I seen that before? Where, oh, where?
It reminded me of Dinotopia, the fictional world created by artists James Gurney. In the first book of the series, Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, the protagonist, Arthur Denison, encounters a large stone tablet in a place called Waterfall City. Inscribed on this tablet are eleven lines, but only ten are readable. This tablet is known as the Code of Dinotopia.
So let’s have some fun here and compare and contrast each of the ten suggestions and see which you would rather follow.
Guidestones: Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
Gurney: Survival of all or none.
These appear to contradict each other. The Guidestones suggests that half a billion people is the optimum number the planet should sustain. The last time the globe’s population was at this level was either around 1500 (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) or around 1650 (Population Reference Bureau). I’m not sure I would like to go back to those eras. There, of course, is also the messy question of how one dispatches and disposes of the 6.5 billion other people who don’t make the cut. I’m with Gurney with the “we’re all in this together” philosophy.
Guidestones: Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
Gurney: One raindrop raises the sea.
Gurney’s Code suggests to me that any beneficial action, no matter how small, increases the common good. This guideline goes against an apathetic viewpoint of, “Why should I do XXX, it’s not like it matters.” The Guidestones’s suggestion of human reproduction being guided by, I assume, some outside authority sounds to much like eugenics, described as “the self-direction of human evolution” (as written on the logo of the Second International Eugenics Congress held in 1921).
Guidestones: Unite humanity with a living new language.
Gurney: Weapons are enemies, even to their owners.
As I am currently struggling to make myself understood and even to have some of my needs met as I learn a new language, I am drawn towards the goal of a universal language. Esperanto is around, but maybe someone can come up with something new. Gurney’s take that weapons are bad things may be nice in a fictional utopia where all live in peace, but, sadly, people don’t work like in the real world (Have they ever?) and I am cynical enough to believe they never can.
Guidestones: Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
Gurney: Give more, take less.
Gurney, to me, stresses altruism, charity, and selflessness with this statement. Yes, it would be nice, to live in a place where less is taken and more is given. That sentiment of temperance also flows from the Guidestones with its expression that passion, faith, and tradition should be exercised without extremes. I prefer a world without extremists.
Guidestones: Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
Gurney: Others first, self last.
Again, Gurney goes to the well of selflessness (or is that “anti-selfishness”?) when proposing that people think of the other before themselves. The Guidestones, I belive, expand on this thought by suggesting that instead of thinking of others before the self, why not simply have a judicial system in place that treats all fairly. I agree with both sentiments but I lean towards a philosophy where people are relied on to make the sound call rather than pin their hopes on an institution.
Guidestones: Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
Gurney: Observe, listen and learn.
As with the fifth rule, the Guidestones places its faith in organizations external to people when conflicts arise in the world (Quick aside here, but how many nations could there actually be with only 500,000,000 people on the planet?). Gurney also sticks to his guns (metaphorically speaking) when championing the individual to do their best. In this case, the person should engage in the almost passive activities of observation, listening, and study to make the world a better place. As with the fifth rule, I have to side with the individual rather than the organization.
Guidestones: Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
Gurney: Do one thing at a time.
The Code of Dinotopia here asks the reader to avoid multitasking so that the person can concentrate on the task at hand. It is better to do one thing well than to do multiple things in a half-baked manner. This is akin to the moral of the Aesop fable of the Lioness and the Vixen, “Quality, not quantity”. The Guidestones, with its reliance on organizations seems to have put itself in a bind. Now that there are courts and tribunals to handle disputes, the Guidestones found it necessary to add a suggestion to avoid useless officials and petty laws. That’s usually what groups of people and committees do.
Guidestones: Balance personal rights with social duties
Gurney: Sing every day.
The Guidestones finally move away from the group and come back to the individual. This guideline suggests that people do have rights (although they are never enumerated), but with those rights come responsibilities. There is no free lunch. Gurney’s musical suggestion, while touching the artist in me, can’t hold up against the notion that with every right comes a responsibility.
Guidestones: Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
Gurney: Exercise imagination.
As with the previous rule, Gurney speaks to the artist in me and I would love to exercise my imagination every day. As for the Guidestones’s penultimate suggestion…huh?!? This seems to New Age-y to me.
Guidestones: Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
Gurney: Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
These final suggestions appear to be in sync with each other. The Guidestones expressly state that humanity should leave room for nature. Gurney’s suggestion of not living to eat would suggest a desire to not use resources in a wasteful manner. Both imply a request to live in harmony with the natural world.
Adding up the scores, we see that James Gurney wins with 6.5 points to the Guidestones 3.5 (each side received half a point for the tie at NUMBER TEN).
Truth may be stranger than fiction, so I’d rather live in the world dreamed up by fiction.