The small town of Elberton in northeast Georgia is known as the granite capital of the world.
In June of 1979, a well-dressed, articulate man who identified himself as R.C. Christian walked into the Elberton Granite Finishing Company and ordered a monument to "transmit a message to mankind." The man claimed to represent a small group from outside Georgia and wished to remain anonymous.
Today that monument, known as the Georgia Guidestones, sits atop the highest point in Elbert County, Georgia. An engraved plaque placed in the ground near the monument reads, "Guides to an Age of Reason."
The granite slab structure has a total weight of 119 tons, with an overall height of 19.3 feet. It consists of a center stone resting on a support stone, four upright monoliths each resting on a support stone, and a cap stone.
The large four upright monoliths are oriented to the limits of the annual migratory cycle of the moon. There's an oblique hole drilled through the center stone providing continual, eye-level visibility of the North Star. And the sun shines through a slot in the center stone marking the summer and winter solstices.
Inscribed on the monument, in eight different languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian) are the following 10 guides:
1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely -- improving fitness and diversity.
3) Unite humanity with a living new language.
4) Rule passion -- faith -- tradition -- and all things with tempered reason.
5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8) Balance personal rights with social duties.
9) Prize truth -- beauty -- live -- seeking harmony with the infinite.
10) Be not a cancer on the earth -- Leave room for nature -- Leave room for nature.
In 1986, a book titled Common Sense Renewed was published. Its author, Robert Christian, dedicated the book to Thomas Paine (1737-1809), an early American revolutionary scholar and author of Common Sense.
Among other things, Christian claimed to be the man behind the Georgia Guidestones. He wrote about his concern for the political and economic decline of America, and reiterated his desire to remain anonymous.
The 10 guides (suggestions) seem harmless enough. The world is clearly overpopulated and mismanaged.
There are roughly 6.5 billion people on this planet. Guide #1 suggests a half billion would be ideal. However, reducing the global population by more than 90 percent and maintaining the results is beyond human practicality.
Guide #3 suggests everyone speak the same language. This would certainly make life easier, but it would be extremely difficult to implement. No language is perfect, requiring the agreed-upon invention and acceptance of a new one.
Ruling with tempered reason, balancing personal rights with social duties, prizing truth, seeking harmony, resolving internal disputes internally, resolving external disputes externally and so forth all make sense too.
While this all seems quite innocuous, for some people the Georgia Guidestones are the work of the devil.
A Web site called The Resistance Manifesto proclaims, "We are waging an incessant campaign to have the Guidestones removed and destroyed. The Guidestones are empirical evidence of Satanism in the world."
One man's guides to common sense are another man's evidence of evil personified. The mere existence of these differences is the precise reason that peaceful coexistence will never be realized on Earth in the first place.
I have my own guide to reason -- mind your own business, don't tread on me, and I'll do the same.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.