Monday, June 15, 2009

Be Not A Cancer on the Earth?

Yesterday, I bought a copy of the April 2009 issue of Wired, because it had this interesting article about this weird monument in the Southern United States called the Georgia Guidestones. Built near the rural town of Elberton, Georgia, it has several large granite monoliths with cryptic instructions that have already earned the monument the nickname of "the American Stonehenge." Currently, the monument has raised the ire of a lot of right-leaning conspiracy theorists who see the instructions as part of plan put forth by some occult New World Order conspiracy. Personally, I think the more likely explanation is some crazy old eccentric has too much money and time on his hands.

The "instructions" on the guidestones are as follows:

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language.

4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Even though I don't believe in the New World Order conspiracy theories, I still find the inscriptions on the Guidestones fascinating, because it is so difficult to figure out what religious or political or occult ideology the man who wrote them actually adheres to. On the other hand, in attempting to find an origin for the phrase "be not a cancer on the earth," I think I have found a relatively simple and mundane explanation. As you can see by the photo on this blog post, the idea that mankind and its ballooning population growth is akin to a cancerous growth on Mother Earth can be found in a 1970 essay by the sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov called The Case Against Man. The headline "Is Mankind a Cancer on the Earth" was a blow-up quote that I found accompanying a copy of the Asimov essay in the July 5, 1970 issue of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. If my theory is correct, then the Georgia Guidestones, which were built in 1979, comes from the same late-1960s, early-1970s anxieties about population growth that produced the Zero Population Growth movement, Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, and the movie Soylent Green.

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