The Americas

Notes and Comment: Who Switched Off the Lights

3The Review of Religions – August 2003 Who Turned Off the Lights 14th August 2003 could well have gone down in history in the same way that September 11th did. It was the day that several cities in America and Canada found themselves without power for many hours in the worst power outage in history. In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood film, traffic lights stopped working and people were stuck in building lifts or in metro systems underground. Mobile telephones suddenly stopped working leaving people worried about how to commu- nicate in an emergency with loved ones. In temperatures of well over 30ºC, even the air- c o n d i t i o n i n g systems had stopped working, making conditions more unbearable. In a matter of seconds, all of the facilities that people had come to rely upon in daily life had vanished leaving people to their own devices. Over 50 million people in New York, To r o n t o , Ottawa and Detroit emerg e d gingerly from offices, cars and subways worried that they were involved in yet another terrorist incident. In the evening rush hour, there was traffic chaos, cities were in darkness, and thousands of city workers who were left stranded with no route home were forced to sleep rough on the streets. Trains, ferries, cars and aircraft all ground to a halt as fuel became scarce and signalling became impossible. (This scene was repeated on 28th August 2003 in London with two power outages creating an evening rush-hour chaos). As night descended on these great cities, the eerie darkness seemed to be sending out a message that even these industrial giants are not as powerful as they may imagine. Even behaviour such as looting which is normally associated with lesser nations, was witnessed in New York and Ottawa. It is easy to feel comfortable behind the luxuries of life, and to think that our existence is totally different to that of our ancestors. But events such as this bizarre incident remind us of how fragile our Notes & Comments 4 The Review of Religions – August 2003 communities and structures are. Without these crutches, we very quickly return to basic instincts. People worried about how to find food and drink, how to commu- nicate and how to get home. This was ironically the scenario painted around the potential millennium software bug which never materialised. Even a former e n e rgy secretary in the US described his nation as a superpower with a Third World electricity grid. The next day, as families woke up to the horror of the previous day’s nightmare, realities such as discovering a fridge full of rotten food struck home. In the modern age of global communications, we sometimes believe the illusion that these powerful push-button facilities will always be there, and as a result, many modern thinkers either deny or relegate the position of God, as they feel they have created all of the facilities that they need for themselves. Such incidents remind us that all of these things are fragile and have a limited lifetime, but God is always present everywhere. Maybe the 14th or 18th of August also provided us with a valuable reminder of our true status and position in the universe. Chilling then to think of the Day of Judgement as the time when the lights would go out on our existence on Earth, and we would be forced to evaluate what we actually achieved from our time on this planet without the assistance of our worldly crutches! Fazal Ahmad– UK Notes and Comments In The Review of Religions of April 2003, Hadhrat Mirz a Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III, was described as the cousin brother of Hadhrat M i rza Tahir Ahmad (P. 1 5 ) . The dictionary defines a cousin as a relative descended f ron one of one’s common ancestors. For the avoidance of doubt, both persons has the same father and as such, were paternal brothers but maternal cousins as each came f rom a diff e rent wife of Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II.