Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 5, 2013

ABACUS COLUMN: Will the honey bee survive humanity?

By Larry Backus
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — Time magazine’s cover of Aug. 19, posed a disheartening statement: "A World Without Bees." Notice there was no question mark; it was posed as a statement of impending doom for honey bees. The article by Bryan Walsh then added a sub title: "The Price We'll Pay If We Don't Figure Out What's Killing the Honeybee." The article was well written and researched. It concluded that beekeepers, scientists and our appropriate government agencies have some idea of what is killing bees, such as pesticides, natural parasites and fungus in hives. Therefore they have made a few recommendations to legislators, who may certainly consider the consequences of said legislation with their constituents, especially financial supporters, political party and lobbyists prior to voting; if and when such legislation is presented for vote. In the interim, we could (emphasis on could) manage to hasten the extinction of honey bees. The editors of Time generally concluded that this was a serious enough issue to be featured on the cover and have eight pages devoted to the article. My thinking is that maybe Time should have a cover that poses the possibility of: "A World Without Humanity."

Humanity has survived and multiplied through millions of years with a brain that is supposedly superior to those in the animal kingdom. Yet our history is nothing to gloat about without fortunate interference by stalwart, dedicated and courageous individuals. Even in our supposedly modern history, during and after the defeat of Fascism and Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. Leaders of our “allies,” Russia under Stalin and China under Mao, managed to kill an estimated 65 million members of their own "hive." 

Now we have Islamic terrorism, a mutated, lethal interpretation of the Muslim religion that treats women as slaves or worse; preaches hate as a dogmatic credo, and kills for no noble cause; rather, it does so to control and enslave others. Our 21st century is beginning to look like a re-run of the 20th century, and it could end up being worse. In the Far East we have Buddhists killing Muslims and vice versa. In this country and in other English speaking countries, anti-Muslim feelings are rampant. The Muslim faith is the second largest religion by membership in the world. I cannot believe the faith has grown to such a position by fear and hate; but rather by a belief in God, and a prophet who preached of God’s virtue and redemption for mankind. 

As a Christian, I have no quarrel with members of the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith. I do believe that Christ is the answer for mankind, but that faith does not allow me to denigrate any religion or faith that is based on credible criteria. What do I mean by that? Well, if you believe money is the answer; you are of a faith that will lead to disillusionment. If you believe fame or status is the answer; you are of a faith that will lead to disillusionment. There is no innate harm in pursuing both, but without a sound ethical and religious faith to guide you; you may lead a very unhappy existance. If you are of a faith that encourages the annihilation or enslavement of members of competing faiths, my best guess is that you will suffer eternal damnation. The stakes and final justice for ones actions and beliefs are very high and only the individual has final control. 

My faith does allow me to wish that Muslim leaders in this country would speak more openly and forcefully against Islamic terrorism. In other countries courageous Muslim leaders have spoken against terrorism, and many have paid with their lives and with the lives of members of their families. These are truly courageous individuals. My religion does allow me to laugh at some Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic humor, up to a point. And it definitely demands that I speak out about negative trends in our community, our society and our world. We human inhabitants of the world are not trending too well at present, and in some leadership positions that trend is precipitous. You may not believe any individual can make a positive difference in the world. However, when I was in government I learned that local government really was the key to good government. If local government was on the right track with dedicated, hard working and, if need be, courageous individuals; then the potential for good government at all levels was enormously more sure to happen. I believe this applies to all endeavors; if we as individuals are going to make a difference, now is the best time to start. If we do not, then we may have to consider that the honey bee may survive humanity.