Sam Keen on War
copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Granted on this a day en memoriam we might discuss the military record of our Commander-In-Chief. We could quibble about his service and his unwillingness to sacrifice his life for this nation. We might speak of the Vice President and his own hesitancy to enlist. Perhaps a focus on their folly would be wise; however futile. These men did as they did and do as they do. We will not change that through our rants. Our rage will not alter the world. Reflection on the topic of war might help begin a transformation. However, perhaps, contemplation, a conversation, and a concentration on peace are best.
I listen to those that speak in praise of the men and women that serve, defend, and protect this country in battle. I wonder and inquire. Are we honoring the fallen in these traditional ceremonies, or do we revere combat. The President of the United States stands before a nation in mourning and states . . .
Today we honor the warriors who fought our nation's enemies, defended the cause of liberty, and gave their lives in the cause of freedom. We offer our love and our heartfelt compassion to the families who mourn them. We pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they made.Earlier on the Memorial Day weekend, Vice President Cheney, while delivering a commencement address empathically declared.
“We’re fighting a war on terror because the enemy attacked us first, and hit us hard.”Our leaders make claims that we accept as valid. Yet, as I ponder I think otherwise. I muse. One country, one community, or an individual cannot intimidate another and think peace will prosper. Bullying does not eliminate bullying. Nor can a person, political system, or an armed force enter an engagement, believing that the other is an adversary and expect love will grow,
In truth, I do not understand why we might consider another being our opponent. The mere use of the term creates conflict. Differences will forever exist between powers or persons. We can learn from these or chose war. If we choose to kill, those that disagree with us nothing will be resolved .
A massacre, no matter the dimension will destroy any possibility of peace. Rationally, realistically combat does little to secure a nation or the globe. Perhaps, temporarily, we have bathed in illusions of harmony. Nevertheless, there has never been a Sea of Tranquility on Earth. Oh, were there one, a permanent respite.
However, man continues to become enraged and then violently engage. The cycle is familiar and comfortable although quite contrary to the preferred conclusion. We persist, then venerate the behavior.
Intellectually we accept, slaughter is terrifying regardless of who does the deed. Murder is never correct, Assassination does not endear the killer to his, or her loved ones. Nor will shooting help to spread or preserve a particular philosophy, even one declared democratic.
Freedom, fairness, and the prospect of equal participation in government evolve when people choose to live in concert. These qualities cannot be forcefully imposed upon an anxious public.
Firing a missile at my home, scolding my family, or waving a gun at me will not demonstrate you have my best interests at heart. These are characteristics of war; they do not promote, prompt, protect, or preserve the peace. There is no tranquility when threats are made and acted on. Can any of us truly claim, 'Might makes right' or two wrongs will cure all ills.
Mister Cheney postures we must fight for we were attacked. I inquire. Does it matter who was the first to strike a blow. I surmise that any show of aggression breeds another. If there is an initial incursion, it will not be a last. Violence begets violence. Brutality builds on itself. An inescapable energy is generated when we fuel the fire.
At times, the catalyst does not cause death. More often than not, an assault is the result of ample unrest. Distress is deep when repeated reactive practices, policies, and procedures are ratified. Without thoughtful attention, anxiety increases. However, the person or people in power justify their prerogatives. Rationalizations pass for reason. The assailant believes they have grounds for a fight.
If, as you cogitate international events this principle is not apparent, then consider what occurs within your home, on the streets, and in your community. If a family member brutally reprimands, or criticizes with great contempt the recipient of this rebuke rarely respond by saying, "You are correct. What was I thinking?" An individual walking down the street, when approached by another pedestrian yelling "Get out of my way you blankety-blank" does not usually happily stand aside. Nor do they feel as though the request was polite. Few if any are honored when, thankfully, or abruptly pushed aside.
Wars, combat, and conflict in the fields are as those elsewhere. They frequently establish fissures too vast to fill.
Suppressed emotions, resentment ultimately rises to the surface. The concealed is ultimately revealed. A wounded animal, man, or beast will lash out, rather than allow another to control them. Those that live outside a country cannot change regimes. Soldiers armed with bayonets cannot calm a civilization destroyed by the bullets and bombs military men and women bear. The emergence of war is inevitable when one entity tells another how to live.
Characteristically, revenge, retribution, and retaliation are classified as a means towards peace; at least our Administration posits this myth. We may fight our forebears as we did during the Revolution, our brother, or neighbor as we did in the Civil War, or we may war with our former friends. Please name the battle of your choice. Nonetheless, fighters and civilians alike are doomed to death when we war.
For seven generations, we have carried our fallen to these fields. Here rest some 360,000 Americans who died fighting to preserve the Union and end slavery. Here rest some 500,000 Americans who perished in two world wars to conquer tyrannies and build free nations from their ruins. Here rest some 90,000 Americans who gave their lives to confront Communist aggression in places such as Korea and Vietnam.An antagonist provokes, and then voices surprise or joy when the injured party fights back. In some weird warped world, one or the other person committing a transgression truly thinks that violence will alleviate the anxiety. Clearly, in a cloud of smoke, as the guns blaze, we trust that if we assert our position, all will be well. Those that oppose us will say, "Certainly, you are correct." Rarely if ever does that occur. Everyone believes that they know best, especially for the other individual [or country.]
Nonetheless, in an attempt to defend a self-righteous stance Vice President, Richard [Dick] Cheney asserts we must stay the course for
“Nobody can guarantee that we won’t be hit again.”Oh, Mister Cheney, do you not recognize, we will be battered if we continue to beat another down. One blow creates a supposed need for the next. Each hit will be worse than the last.
For me, the foolishness is found in reckless rationalizations. Might we cease talk of war for a moment and consider the concept of "enemy."
I have no foes, no rivals, or adversaries. I do not believe in the concept. It is my assertion that those that wish to do us harm do so for they fear us, the unknown, as much as we are frightened by them. As long as we presume one person is an alien, an opponent, or a stranger they will be. Often apprehension is the catalyst for chaos.
At times, it is not angst that leads us into battle; it is arrogance. If we haughtily proclaim our superiority, and proclaim with pride, 'We have rights, or we are right' while violating the civil liberties of others, then wrongs will be realized. Reprisal is the consequence of such a declaration and decisive stance.
Nonetheless, thinking we know and are best, we travel abroad, gather our guns, and spill the guts of young and old on battlefields in the name of freedom, democracy, and ["just us"] justice for all. Then we allege we are brave.
Our nation is free because of brave Americans like these, who volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.I wonder whether we are emancipated or valiant. The soldiers that serve and those fallen are indeed courageous. For they accepted positions knowing these might sadly lead to their demise. They trusted in higher powers. Servicemen and women went beyond the call of duty in giving of their life, limbs, and vision. Enlistees had faith that they were protecting their families; they were fighting for a just cause. However, perhaps these premises are not valid.
Are we truly liberated if we are bound by antediluvian beliefs.? Might we consider that we cannot preach peace when we claim to have enemies. The concepts are in conflict.
In 2006, our President proclaimed . . .
Our nation mourns the loss of our men and women in uniform; we will honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives -- by defeating the terrorists, by advancing the cause of liberty, and by laying the foundation of peace for a generation of young Americans.The President received applause. Yet, I know not why.
We can never complete a mission that requires military might. We fought many wars to end all others; however, the fire never ceases. For as long as we believe another is our foe, there will be conflict. If we consider our neighbor a terrorist, and do not acknowledge that likewise, we threaten them, that the avenger and the prey are often one and the same, nothing will ever change.
I invite each of us to grieve the corporeal losses while realizing these need never be again. If we accept that our fellow global citizen could be as we are, that he or she might share our aspirations, frustrations, and concerns then this nameless, faceless, fiend could become a friend. Were we merely to extend our hand, hold his, and look at her face we might see their soul shining through.
Sadly, we do not. On this Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, President George W. Bush proclaims as many before him have.
Our duty is to ensure that its outcome justifies the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in it. From their deaths must come a world where the cruel dreams of tyrants and terrorists are frustrated and foiled -- where our nation is more secure from attack, and where the gift of liberty is secured for millions who have never known it.Once more I can only sigh and surrender as we honor war and not the warrior. Might we remember there is no security to be found through murder, malice, and malevolence. Massacre does not ensure safety. Indeed, it threatens the possibility.
Each day we watch the death toll mount. More and more Americans, allied forces, and innocent Iraqis fall. The number of insurgents increases. The violence intensifies and we are told failure is not an option. It is not; it is the truth, a reality that need not be.
Let us give rise to the reason for lives lost. May we work towards authentic peace. Might we recognize that as long as we believe in the notion of an enemy, we will have them. If we think war an option, we will engage in battle. The perception 'Might makes right' will breed wrong. There is no equality, justice, or freedom for all when the strong set out to prove they are powerful. As a nation, we often ask . . .
May God Bless the Untied States of America.Perhaps we must concede that the Almighty commends only those that love all others equally. Unless and until citizens of this country act honorably, we will be no more blessed than any of the other combative creature is. We may request the support of a greater being; however, I believe appreciation will only be bestowed upon those that act lovingly. Waging war will not bring peace; nor do I think G-d blesses this brutality.
Rationalizing War and Peace. Resources . . .