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SOS for Syria

Most people I know find the Rubik Puzzle impossibly hard to sort out.  A quick look at the Wikipedia entry on the Rubik’s Cube shows that:

The original (3×3×3) Rubik’s Cube has eight corners and twelve edges. There are 8! (40,320) ways to arrange the corner cubes. Seven can be oriented independently, and the orientation of the eighth depends on the preceding seven, giving 37 (2,187) possibilities. There are 12!/2 (239,500,800) ways to arrange the edges, since an even permutation of the corners implies an even permutation of the edges as well. (When arrangements of centres are also permitted, as described below, the rule is that the combined arrangement of corners, edges, and centres must be an even permutation.) Eleven edges can be flipped independently, with the flip of the twelfth depending on the preceding ones, giving 211(2,048) possibilities.

This number, I’m told, represents 43 quintillion possibilities; a number that I’m not numerate enough to even read out in full. And yet, people with mathematically analytical minds can unscramble the Rubik Cube from any random position whatsoever within seconds; the world record being under 10 seconds.

The news out of Syria, what there is of it, is grim. Beyond all the killing and the bloody scenes, the most striking thing when listening to news reports is the hopelessness of the predicted outcome, whichever side wins.

As the leaders of each country at the core (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Iraq); at the periphery (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE); and powerful nations in the wider world beyond (USA, Russia, France, UK) wonder how to best manage the outcome of the conflict to serve their own legitimate interests, they are advised by the most astute analytical minds in their respective countries. However, geopolitical problems cannot be solved by the sort of intelligence that can realign the colors of a Rubik’s Cube.

Neither can religion or religious leaders. The latter usually compound the problem with deeply held beliefs that exclude the certainties of other faiths. My God is better than your God. Or even worse, My God is the only true God! So if religion and religious leaders are excluded as possible solutions to the crisis, what then? Spirituality.

Spirituality? Without religion? Without religious leaders? Yes. A collective Self Organizing Spirituality; an SOS for Syria. How can this function? I cite below the founding principles of the Community of Peace People in Ireland, where the conflict was as hate-filled, bitter and bloody as any.


  • We wish to live and love and build a just and peaceful society.

  • We wish for our children, as we do for ourselves, in our homes, at work or at play, lives filled with peace and joy.

  • We acknowledge that to build such a life demands hard work and great courage.

  • We acknowledge there are great problems in our society that are the source of conflict and violence.

  • We acknowledge that every shot that’s fired and every bomb that explodes makes our task more difficult.

  • We reject bombs, bullets and all technologies of violence.

  • We pledge, with neighbours near and far, to work day and night to build a peaceful society in which the tragedies we have known will become but a searing memory and a constant warning.

When the above principles begin to be put into practice, then, and only then, can the brilliance of the Rubik Cube analysts begin to de-randomize the geopolitical colors of the problem.

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