Imagine

Inspiring vision

It is hard to imagine that there will be world peace one day. War seems a constant in history. But most people nowadays have never witnessed war. It may seem that ideals and visions did not make things better. The number of people killed under the guise of equality, freedom, nationalism and various religions might be close to a billion. The War to End All Wars didn’t live up to its promise either. John Lennon and Martin Luther King imagined a better future but world peace and equality for all haven’t arrived yet.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

– John Lennon, Imagine

John Lennon and Martin Luther King imagined a better future but world peace hasn’t arrived yet and minorities are still discriminated. It isn’t as easy as it may seem to naive dreamers. Different people may find it difficult to live together because they do not understand each other or do not share the same values. Drugs may seem to make these problems go away. Perhaps that’s why hippies were often on weed or LSD. John Lennon and Martin Luther King didn’t have the power to change the world. Neither do I.

Wars have been remarkably absent in many parts of the world in recent decades. The cost of war has gone up while its spoils have gone down. The elites don’t want a major war any more. It is bad for profits. In the past conquerors could enrich themselves by looting and annexing enemy land. Wealth was material in the form of fields, cattle, oil, and gold. Today, wealth consists of human capital, knowledge, and corporations. They are harder to loot and more easily destroyed.1 And then there are weapons of mass destruction that can easily end human civilisation.

As we increasingly depend on computers and networks, societies can break down if they fail. Just imagine what will happen if your mobile phone stops working. And so cyberspace has become a new domain for warfare by powers like the United States, China and Russia. As you might have learned from experience or otherwise, the man with the biggest gun is always right, even if it is a woman. This proverb is not about gender but about gun size. Neither the United States, China and Russia may have the biggest gun.

World peace

And so world peace may be around the corner. At least that appeared to be the message I received in December 2008. There was a candy vending machine at work. Often I went there to get a Twix bar. One day it malfunctioned. I couldn’t get my Twix. The machine repeatedly misfired. This never happened before and it never happened later on. Other people didn’t have any trouble with the machine. It only affected me. After trying three different options, the machine finally worked after choosing option 22, a Nuts bar. This was nuts, even more so because 22 = 11 + 11, which makes a reference to 11:11.

Aaahhh!!

But it was going to get even nuttier. The next day I bought a bag of potato crisps at the same machine. The machine worked fine but after opening the bag I found a small piece of paper with the crisps. It was a temporary tattoo with the following Chinese text:

世界和平

A colleague knew a Chinese man who translated it. The characters stand for world peace. No-one else did get a temporary tattoo. It was a production glitch. The paper had slipped into the bag and this bag just happened to end up in my hands, just when so many strange incidents were happening at the same time, but that is a different story.

Remarkably absent that day was my colleague Ronald Oorlog. He had fallen ill exactly on that day. His last name Oorlog is the Dutch word for war, a peculiar coincidence as the Chinese characters stand for world peace. It was the only time he fell ill as he was a temporary worker, which suggest that he may have been hired to make the coincidence happen. If you can do this, you don’t have to worry about any weapons the United States, China or Russia might have. You can easily let them malfunction like the candy machine.

So who might that be? You may already have guessed it and I had received a specific hint on that matter a few weeks earlier. A few weeks later, in January 2009, it was confirmed. I was biking to work. Next to the office was the municipal health service GGD. When I looked at the GGD building, perhaps because of all the strange coincidences that happened, a thought poppped up that GGD could mean Great GoD. Immediately I tried convince myself that it was delusional to think that God had put such a sign there. The thought was rebuked on the spot. The next thing I noticed was a car in front of the GGD building. It had license plate number 99-GRG-9 (with the nines being numbers I do not recall). GRG could also refer to GReat God.

This isn’t a joke or is it?

The following incidents may demonstrate that God isn’t joking around and means business. A few days later while I was biking on the same spot near the GGD building, the following thought came up: “Now I found out that God exists, what could happen to me?” Within a second a ran into a flat tire.

I had two close colleagues named Rene. The last name of the first began with E. The other had a last name starting with H. In March 2009 there was an urgent situation requiring the password of a new system. Rene H knew the password but he hadn’t arrived yet. And so I asked another colleague for his number. He gave me the number. I called Rene H on his mobile phone. After dialling his number the phone rang. Suddenly the connection appeared to be switched. There was some switching sound. A woman with apparently the same last name as Rene E answered the phone. I excused myself to her.

Then I said to the colleague who gave me the number: “It appears that you have given me the number of the wrong Rene. Please give me the correct number.” He was convinced that the number was correct. I checked it with a few other colleagues and they confirmed the number. I dialled it again. The same switching occurred. I put down the phone before it was answered. Then Rene H arrived. The number I dialled was correct. His phone was in working order and he hadn’t put a switch on it. Some colleagues then made funny remarks about Rene H messing with the wife of Rene E. So, perhaps God is joking around and world peace isn’t going to happen any time soon, but we can’t know that.

Featured image: Hippie symbol

1. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.

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