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Friday, June 22, 2007

Conquering Ourselves

The rules have sat squarely before us for more than a hundred years, maybe a thousand. Among many other teachers; Machiavelli, Lao Tzu, Voltaire, Jefferson, Jesus, Buddha, and Aristotle did a pretty good job of laying out the rules of how people should live together. Feel free to suggest other relevant examples.

Ossanite, Haiti 00002

After all, great civilizations like ancient Egypt, the people of Angkor Wat, all native Americans including the Mayans and Incas, left obvious signs of past civilisation. Those places are littered with many examples of a society capable of collectively accomplishing immense tasks. Not unlike our good friends the honeybees. Our New York or Shanghai examples pale in comparison to the least of the accomplishments of legacy left behind by each Chinese dynasty.

Yet one thing continues to haunt us.

War.

All around us are examples of communities of living things that seem to go on living like they have for centuries on end. War seems to be a rare state indeed for most species. if you discount those going on at the bacteriological level or maybe army ants or white blood cells, etc.

A great deal of combat in the natural world is of the defensive nature. Bees do not decide to go attack another hive. But if a mouse tries to chew into the hive you can bet those bees will sacrifice themselves to sting that mouse to death. One view is that the collective wisdom is really just many average brains working in harmony towards a common goal.

Sure plant and animal species invade fairly-isolated islands like Hawaii or New Zealand and conquer the native species. But when was the last time you saw a herd of cows attack a neighboring herd of cows just because there was a patch of oil under their pasture? Four cats suddenly organize a hit on the neighborhood dog? Three hives of bees form a coalition to attack the man spraying pesticides? Yes, we have all seen the nature specials where one troop of some ape or monkey threatens another clan of simians. But do they resort to AK-47 automatic rifles and IED bombs planted under strategic forest trails?

War sucks. Unlike the defense industry in the United States, I fail to believe war is a natural state. The employment of hundreds of thousands at Boeing, United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and Brown & Root/Halliburton depends on a prevailing state of war. Bell Helicopter or Northrop are no different. Hundreds of different firms count their profits from war in large piles and try to pawn them off as the cost of freedom.

Blood money. That is all it is. Blood money generously provided by U.S citizens thirsty for more gruesome headlines. Each of the venerable firms I just mentioned could just as soon find non-violent outlets for their employees in very relevant fields.

People talk about the inefficiency of solar or wind energy. What if all the losses from all wars to-date had been invested in discovering new forms of energy? What if all those lost lives had gone on to raise inquisitive children that worked hard and sometimes discovered things? All that human and natural energy could hardly be called inefficient in the face of countless mass slaughters held throughout the ages.

Forget why. Just plain forget why wars happen for now. We naturally know what causes people to disagree on a personal level. Men have fought over wealth, land, women, and water over and over again. Women do fight over men but seldom with nuclear warheads or even guns pointed at each other. We think that if we know why wars are fought we will therefore be able to prevent them.

Rules.

We developed sets of rules, many outlined in the form of taboos. Other rules became laws. Later too many rules and laws, especially very bad laws, led to a total disregard for most laws. Let us not forget that the Germanic tribes were preceded by ancient Egypt, Babylon, Mohenjo Daro and Harappa.

Admit Responsibility and Solve The Problem

Mankind is solely responsible for creating and nurturing the practice of war. It stands to reason man should be responsible for eliminating the heinous practices of war and related forms of capital punishment. If we fail to do this hastily we are certain to cease to exist as a species, conquering ourselves, so to speak.

Move Forward

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to look back on war as a thing of the distant past? Something no longer practiced anywhere on Earth? Shirk not your responsibility all the way down to the personal level. The alternative is grossly unacceptable in all aspects. Blood should flow in veins, not streets and doorsteps.

It may be a virus that gets us all in the end but all nuclear warheads sure seem like the more impending threat to any future whatsoever.