Market Overview

Sandbox Playground: The Market, Saving the World, and the Question of Global Consciousness (Part 2 of 2)


The subtitle of Michael Drosnin's Bible Code III is "Saving the World". Interestingly, MarketWatch's Paul Farrell recently discussed "investing ideas that can save the world". Farrell: "We're practical optimists but with a lot of company, investors with the same vision, searching, inspired by a new generation to build a viable global economy and a sustainable planet for 10 billion people." Farrell went on to discuss possible economic changes in energy, transportation, et al. Farrell's discussion portends individuals seeking out new investment strategies and technological methods in order to address and fix global problems. Whereas Farrell took a more optimistic tone in this recent article in terms of "saving the world", he has previously suggested that humanity is approaching an era akin to the Great Tribulation. Might a maturing global collective consciousness with new ideas and new technology be enough to avert worldwide disaster? Will some sense of pragmatic global enlightenment come too late?

Going along with this ominous intertwining of spirituality and economics, MarketWatch's David Weidner has recently discussed in two interesting articles (on MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal) using scripture to justify or vilify economic activity. Weidner discussed how he found scripture to support various aspects of having wealth: "There are verses that suggest we should make as much money as we can. There are passages that say we should shun all wealth and possessions." Weidner concluded, "All in all, my spiritual quest for direction when it comes to God and money came up with a lot of dead ends. I didn't find an answer, but I did find some perspective."

On the article for the WSJ, Weidner discussed the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30: "It's a parable about a master who ... leaves his 'talents' or 'money' to three slaves before the master embarks on a journey... The message is that God wants us to do something with what we have. He wants us to prosper, multiply and take a little risk." In light of the argument that the parable wasn't referring to money, Weidner's analysis suggested that "God ... is a flexible analyst. He is less worried about meeting expectations. He is worried more that we have expectations of our own."

What I found particularly interesting about the analyses of Farrell and Weidner is that there does appear to be this connection between spiritual beliefs and finance. In this way, many find themselves searching for deeper truths and deeper meanings in a world that grows more and more complicated every day. And it's as if the answers become that much harder to find as the world becomes more precarious and complex.

Nevertheless, there are those who are looking for ways to save the world. Even so, is the world in need of saving? What do we expect could ever save the world? Drosnin seems to suggest that some "steel obelisk" is the key to humanity's salvation. Drosnin has suggested that the secrets of the human race and the key to the Bible Code rest in this steel obelisk located somewhere in the Lisan peninsula at the Dead Sea. Interestingly, Drosnin cited political issues as being a barrier to locating and finding the steel obelisk, this "ark of steel" from God to man. Hypothetically, were humanity to find Drosnin's "ark of steel", such a discovery could signal a global transformation of consciousness -- a terminus of sorts. Even so, such theories may be only the product of Drosnin's imagination. Nonetheless, again we see this recurring theme of politics being an obstacle to humanity's perseverance and prosperity: The political and economic nature of the game seems to be leading humanity's course toward some sort of historical climax. If only we could get along, if only humanity could intellectually mature, if only humans could learn to love and to share...if only, if only.

In terms of humanity's development toward a historical climax, Drosnin's steel obelisk hearkens back to Arthur C. Clarke's monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some of Clarke's ideas on God and extraterrestrials may come to mind with respect to saving the world, in particular from 2001, 2010: Odyssey Two, and Childhood's End. Despite the high aspirations of thinkers like Drosnin and Clarke in humanity's rising up to new levels, our planet's storyline retains these recurring themes of humanity's flaws and shortcomings. Political and economic realities can get in the way of perseverance and prosperity. We appear to be ominously (one might say, conveniently) far from Clarke's vision in 2001 and 2010.

If we follow along this line of thought in terms of global economic collapse, planetary salvation, and the end of the world, given humanity's hope balanced with what we know to be reality, perhaps our current predicament is all part of a plan. In this sense, perhaps we can take a deep breath and find some comfort in extreme socio-economic adversity -- in that worldwide adversity may be simply part of the plan, part of our common storyline -- the quality of that storyline being open for robust debate.

An interesting portion of the book Bible Code III explored the idea that using the Bible Code to prevent historical events may be against the interests of God and humanity. Whereas Drosnin told an American general, "We're in the End of Days right now", at the end of the discussion the general asked Drosnin, "If we use this code to prevent our destruction, are we interfering with God, are we thwarting His will?" If the course of the planet is some sort of sandbox game for God, it would appear that the story has some directed end. These recurring historical and moral themes then become road markers for the human journey. As Drosnin quoted from the Talmud at the beginning of the book, "Everything is foreseen, but freedom of action is granted." And we would all appear to have our own respective roles. Is there then any viable hope for redemption?

I don't know what the future holds, I can't say for certain that we are in the end times, and I can't say that the key to humanity's salvation is encased in some steel obelisk somewhere in the Dead Sea. I can say that the relatively-brief historical course of humanity does give credence to the idea that we are all playing out some elaborately-designed epic...a divine saga. Were the history of humanity not playing out some divine epic, I don't think there would be as much intertwining of politics and economics with religion -- and I don't think we would be seeing this tumultuous building-up toward a climactic crossroads for humanity on a global scale on a small, blue-green marble moving in what appears to be a cold, dark, and empty universe. Every good story has its hero. In comparing what-we-have to what-the-world-might-be, the human journey over the past 6,000 years has not been dull, stale, or boring; this journey has been historically and remains an epic.

Even in light of adversity, the human experience is rich, fresh, ever-changing, and ever-evolving. Then again, one could argue that the human experience is painful, nasty, brutish, and short. I think it may help to look at the situation in terms of the big picture, but then again, we're not really sure what the big picture looks like. One might argue that the history of humanity could have been good, enlightening, refreshing entertainment for some extradimensional creator. Of course, that the storyline of humanity looks like an epic is merely my opinion, but as per Drosnin and many others, it appears that one way or another this epic is winding up.

Our current global predicament portends an epic quagmire in need of an epic global resolution. And I can say that it appears that we all have a certain role to play in this adventure. If we can take any hints from humanity's fictional epics like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or A Song of Ice and Fire*, I think there is something to be said for finding a happy ending. In the end, the hero defeats the villain and the world is saved. Every good story has a happy ending, right? Whereas it may appear that the sky is close to falling geopolitically and economically, could it be that everything's going perfectly to plan? How sure can we be that such a plan will be for our benefit, with goals in our interest? Should we simply fasten our seat belts, sit back, and enjoy the ride? Perhaps there is yet hope for the human journey. If we can concede that the history of the world is in fact a good story, then perhaps a happy ending is not out of reach. Whether we find that positive ending in humanity itself or some otherworldly influence, we can only wait and see. As I've written before in the context of the US economy and student loans, in some ways, it's as if for those who know where to look, the writing is on the wall.


*I previously mentioned that the history of humanity could be considered an historical "divine epic" comparable to man-made epics like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and A Song of Ice and Fire. What is key here is the fact that the aforementioned epics were probably purposefully crafted to be entertaining, enlightening, and interesting. Whereas the prospect that mankind's history is entertaining, enlightening, and interesting may be a matter of perspective or opinion, we could hypothetically conceive of a boring history of mankind; ours is arguably far from being a boring history. In other words, even if one posits that there is no cosmic designer or audience, there is a story going on. And arguably, there are various points in that storyline where intervention has caused changes in the story's course.

Interestingly, if we compare Earth's human history to the aforementioned epics, the Stars Wars timeline of the Old Republic era to the time period with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia spans over 25,000 years. Likewise, the complete Lord of the Rings chronology spans multiple ages over tens of thousands of years. In A Song of Ice and Fire, the recorded history of Westeros spans over the course of 12,500 years. For the sake of comparison, the recorded history of humanity on Earth spans about 6,000 years. Given that the history of the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old, what really are the odds that our approaching this global, macro-historical climax is merely a coincidence?

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