Celebrating a Simple Life and Middle East Peace
By Julian Dunraven
“But today, of all days, it is brought home to me: it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” So says Mr. Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s epic production of The Lord of the Rings. How very right he is. And how very valuable are all those little touches that go into keeping our lives simple. We almost never think about them and yet without them our simple lives become quite impossible. You see, two days ago, one of my most trusted and beloved servants quit my employment after many years without complaint. Neither notice nor explanation was given. There was no time to find any proper replacement. It happened quite suddenly. After a brief period of shocked disbelief, I found myself facing the horrible reality that my centralized air conditioning system was not going to work again. Panic provided the only chill to be found.
For those of you shaking your heads and clucking your tongues, I advise you to spend some time here in Colorado this summer. The weather might explain why many of our friends on the left are so desperate to grasp at any means, however far fetched, to combat Global Warming. For myself, I was just desperate to grasp for a fan as I suffered through the sweltering days and stifling nights, bemoaning how difficult it is to find good help these days.
Bemoaning, however, is somewhat taxing in such heat and it gets to be rather dull after a while. Eventually, my mind wandered to lighter subjects and began contemplating the Middle East peace process. After some reflection, I determined that the West should provide air conditioning to every home in the region and let it run for a year. After that, whenever trouble flairs up, power should be cut off for a while. That would do it.
No. I am not crazy. Well, not completely anyway.
I didn’t always have centralized air-conditioning. Back in England and the rest of the European continent, it is still quite rare. Now that I do have it though, I think of it as a basic necessity of life no civilized being should be without. More, because I am so accustomed to its presence in my life, its absence causes me intolerable discomfort and I am willing to do almost anything to restore it. I want that for the Middle East too. I want them to really know the benefits of Western Civilization—not just as seen on TV or preached to them by the Imams and Ayatollahs—but experienced first hand. ‘Piety’ of Islamic living is easy to maintain when that is all you have. ‘Blasphemy’ is easy to hate when it is someone else’s sin. Blasphemy doesn’t look so bad though when you come home from 110 degree weather to an air-conditioned home, chilled nicely to 70 degrees. Who cares if it is infidel work?
This has already worked with much of the region’s wealthy elite. Holding on to that wealth and the Western comforts it brings is perhaps the only real reason they cooperate with us at all. Now, it is the people who must learn to love our ways. The ancient Romans kept the same strategy when bringing their civilization to the outer reaches of the Empire—we call it Hellenization. It is a wonderful map to peace and stability—not to mention prosperity. Of course, it also requires that any refusal to engage in this civilized trade, and certainly any open hostility, must be met with such punishing and cruel reprisals as to make any the very thought of resistance painful. Both aspects of this strategy need to be reviewed closely by the Western powers. We are not doing nearly enough to Hellenize the people of the Middle East, nor do we seem willing to make resistance too painful even to contemplate.
In the meantime, I sit languidly in the heat and wait anxiously for the repairman to install the new unit. As I watch him work, I marvel at how much of a difference such a device has made in my life, and what such simple, thoughtless amenities might do for the world. “But today, of all days, it is brought home to me: it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.