The Power of a Small Gathering

‘Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I amongst them’

(Mathew 18: 19- 20)

What is it when a group of individuals decide to commit to something. To some cause or purpose, and find the ways and means to achieve what was thought to be impossible.

Perhaps the answer is…not much.!

And, depending on the outcome, that in itself could be an unsettling and troubling thought, or, it could be grounds for great hope and optimism.

Essentially all it takes is a coalition of bold ideas that become the powerhouse to shaping events beyond the dreams of others, and sets out to build a new paradigm; an alternative proposition to what exists, or doesn’t exist at all. A force of intellect, born out of necessity, compels these individuals who share a common purpose, to come together and form a set of guiding principles to achieve a goal for better, or for worse.

Consider – if you will, New Mexico, 1942-46. The Manhattan Project and America’s push to develop the first Atomic Bomb. In this instance, it was US Government priority, but the complexity of developing such a weapon fell to individuals. While the aspiration was a policy-led initiative, what followed was how six men, who hardly knew each other came together, all with different levels of expertise, all physicists, became sequestered in a remote wilderness called, Los Alamos.

These men confronted a harrowing engineering problem of titanic proportions to harness the power of physics, the complexities of plutonium, and the idiosyncrasies of uranium material, and pool their skills to unlock secrets of a highly unstable fission processes.  It took them over two- years switching from the theoretical to the practical, pursuing endless rabbit holes in attempting to harness and control a fission bomb’ detonation process. A force of nature in itself that did not surrender its secrets easily. Yet these men of single-minded purpose, Oppenheimer, Feynman, Fuchs, Fermi, and Frish to name but a few did just that. Many times, they almost gave up. But for the amazing organizational abilities of one, General Leslie Groves, the project’s inspirational director, who nurtured these highly individually-talented scientists to persist in their collective problem-solving methods, did the breakthrough occur.

The Manhattan Project

A defining moment a shift in thinking yielded the intellectual breakthrough that was required. Instead of thinking of the detonation process as an explosion, the inverse proved crucial. The bomb would function only when an implosion took place. The entire design process was reengineered by building around the nuclear material a series of shaped explosive charges critically aligned around the core, which would when detonated, set off a huge shock wave inwards causing the resultant material to go critical, and unleash its awesome nuclear energy.   

Now Los Alamos grew rapidly from a small complex to a town essentially building, and fabricating the bomb, but the critical intellectual capital to tame the enormous latent forces of nature arose from the efforts of a determined few. Single-minded dedication concentrated in a handful of individuals created the critical mass to overcome all the obstacles.

It didn’t take an army; all it took was a significant few to pull it off.

Revisionist historians have argued since then, that this was a serious retrograde step for humanity that led to the use twice, of these terrible weapons. However it might equally be argued such pioneering endeavors had positives. Nuclear power is morally neutral. It can be harnessed for good in the generation of electrical power, or weaponized into a warhead. 

* In My Book – The Coming of Ages   

Fletcher Du Pont goes to head to head with Russian President, Anton Sassarovitch, in which the new, Global Shroud effectively attempts to naturalize the world’s entire nuclear arsenal.  The paranoia of Mutually Assured Destruction is played out as both men attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable with unimaginable consequences.

Another example where a significant few gathered.

In late January of 1942, in Wannsee near Berlin Nazi bureaucrats held a meeting which brought together 15 representatives of different branches of the German state, the army, the SS, the Nazi party and so on. The sole topic of the meeting was the “final solution to the Jewish question“. The goal of the meeting was to achieve consensus on the methods and dynamics of the destruction of the European Jews. Wannsee conference was not about deciding whether the Holocaust should happen, since in January of 1942 the Holocaust was already in full swing – from deaths of thousands in the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps to mass executions and killing by gas. Main aim of the SS in organizing this meeting was to obtain an unconditional consent and full cooperation of all the other branches of the German state in the plan which was prepared in advance and worked out by the SS.

The central theme for this meeting, from its beginning to the end, organized and dominated by prominent SS officers, General Reinhard Heydrich and Colonel Adolf Eichmann. Records relies on the minutes of the Wannsee conference and other documentary material. Even the dialogues are reconstructed based on the court records from the trial of Eichmann in 1961 in Jerusalem. The setting couldn’t have more surreal. Lavish chateau chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, dining extravagantly and discussing in meticulous detail the overhaul of the current extermination methods to accelerate the final solution.

This gathering of 15 individuals over smoked salmon critically planned how the German State would co-operate in the assisting in whatever way was practical towards dehumanized, tortured camp inmates clinging on edge of life and death or thousands of naked skinny bodies being bulldozed into mass graves. If you’ve ever wondered who were the monsters who organized this and how they could come up with something like that. With brutal precision and dispassionate attention to detail, mass round-ups, genetic definitions what constituted a Jew, ethnicity of each parent, if the father was a Jew, while the mother was not, then the offspring was three-quarters Jew. Weightings were assigned when grandparents were factored into the genetic mix. Tables were designed and circulated so that the maximum level of extermination would essentially cull the population, including other non-pure Aryan minorities.  Efficiency of transportation systems were commandeered out of general use and re-purposed to move large numbers into centres for processing.  Usually, we instinctively look for good and bad we reject or condemn, but here in Wannsee there is no such a thing. Here, all are monsters. Indeed, in there are no good guys and bad guys, they are all part of the same criminal system — they just have different perspectives and different priorities.

The entire gathering was conducted with a coldness, professionalism and simplicity of the meeting where the decision with such consequences was made. It possessed, if the official minutes are to be believed, the atmosphere of corporate and government meetings where such decisions are made, where even today decisions are often being made that will have tragic consequences for the lives of millions.  One meeting, millions of lives.

*See the Movie Conspiracy (2001)  –starring Kenneth  Brannagh- Stanley Tucci

What kind of Gathering does it need, or, what would it take to tackle:  World Poverty  –  Environmental  Damage.-  Climate Change… ???

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