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3.3.03 Do the Right Thing, George

Last night we watched Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. It's a story about race relations -- how a neighborhood suddenly goes all to hell on a hot summer night. But by the end of the movie I was thinking that it was an allegory about world politics and wondering if George Bush has watched it recently.

The story describes the colorful Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of NYC. Every character has a beef with everyone else. Every interaction is simmering with conflict. But isn't that also the ecology of a healthy rainforest? -- every species, every plant, every animal is competing for space and resources but on the whole there is balance. Everyone is pushing, pushing, but they seem to know just how far to push or someone is there nearby to lay a calming hand. But it's a fragile ecology. Someone gets a stubborn idea and is joined by a couple of idiots. Anger explodes. Suddenly the social fabric is ripped apart.

Isn't this the story of how nations co-exist on this planet? Everyone has a complaint with everyone else. We compete. But then we realize that all-out conflict is not in our own best interest. I had thought that with global communications and free trade, we'd seen the wisdom of collaboration and that war was a sporadic outburst among the unenlightened. When things go awry you adjust the ecology -- nurture the strong, good plants to drive out the invasive weeds.

But I worry that the bullies in the Bush administration have little use for ecology -- literally or metaphorically. Like that hot summer night in Bed-Stuy, they could be triggering a chain reaction of monstrous proportions.

Lightening always strikes in the rainforest. Trees fall and open gaping holes. "That's inevitable," Liam said to me today when I was expounding my theory. "Something always happens to make a system slip out of control," he said. "The trick is how fast can you recover?"

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