Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ask Any Mother

If I were to burn your house down the fire would certainly be damaging and scary. You would feel the intensity of the heat. You might be burned severely. You might die, and if you did die you would suffer horribly in the process. From such an experience you would be qualified to say that you truly hate fire. Fire can destroy, kill, disfigure and haunt you the rest of your life. Ask any apartment dwelling mother that has lost her children in a housing fire. It happens frequently in urban areas of our country.

If I did this to you I would be the cause of your pain and suffering. The fire would be an effect of my action.

I listened to the interviews of voters during the recent election period. Here is what I heard repeatedly from earnest and good hearted Americans; “I am anti-war, so I am voting against the war.” The results of the election point out the power of the peace seeking voter and I have no quarrel with our culture’s love of peace. This is a demonstration of the law of good in action. It may be what saves us all, if indeed we can save ourselves from one another.

I typically write here on my google allotted canvases in elected neglect of politics. It will seem this post is a political essay. It will seem so because our country has been so solidly divided that any conversation these days that involves a topic such as war is quickly cleaved and separated into a Lib/Con defense and inevitable spat. Without fail we reach a level of branding someone an idiot, retard, peacenik or warmonger. So I am warning early that this essay is philosophical in nature. It is not an easy read because I am challenging you to think philosophically and not politically. Yes, war can be contemplated without a single thought to your political affiliation. At sharpest focus none of us is defined by party, but instead by what forms our thought, oral discourse and action.

Today thousands marched on the capitol chanting anti-war slogans. Do you know the phrase full disclosure? That’s when the media or an individual confesses something that is important to the discussion. My full disclosure here is that I was a Woodstock type in my twenties, very focused on marching with antiwar signs and slogans across my t-shirts. Anti-War activity is not a stranger to my past. The peace symbol is my iconic heritage in generational history.

Fortunately, I have learned to think more critically as I have aged and observed. Here is what I think today, these many years later. With the rare exception for the deranged or psychopathic individual or fanatical religious subset all of us are anti-war. I find it annoying and shallow when people tell me with great conviction that they are “anti-war”. I would expect nothing less of a fellow human. It is not a slogan that sets you apart from the rest of the world in some sort of special class of intellectualism and compassion. It merely voices what every caring, feeling and correctly functioning human already believes and understands. The inference of this slogan and mindset is that anyone that holds an understanding of cause and effect different than the one you hold, or develops a contradictory stance to your own about how to end war is somehow ‘pro-war.’ I think it would be rare to find an individual that truly relishes war, particularly those that have served on the killing fields inside its horror, fear and chaos.

Philosophically war is an effect. It is not a cause.

If I were speaking to you as a listening audience I would repeat what I just said. I would ask you to write it down. I would ask you to divorce every political figure in our country from your thinking. That will be difficult because you have already begun to picture them and think about them as you have been reading. To divorce the political posturing of the governing classes and dwell instead on the cause of war demands mental discipline. To defeat the causes of war has precious little to do with shallow slogans such as “End the War.” I do not fault peace marchers. I have been there, and as the current popular refrain goes, ‘done that.’ I believe they are honest in their emotion and true to the cause of peace. It’s a good thing to feel the emotion. It’s a good thing to express the emotion. The idea I am placing before the reader is that the target of the emotive marcher is faulty. The emotion of honest righteousness is wasted by firing valuable ammunition into the sand. Yes, you can chant your government into political surrender, but the causes of war will merely smile at your impotence.

War is an effect and as such is servant to a discoverable cause. Search for the cause and you will be racing ahead of those that gather and mindlessly chant “No More War”. Imagine if we gathered at an urban apartment fire and chanted "No More Fire."

Before you begin a self–righteous “No More War” chant and begin crying out that the president is a warmonger because all the guests on NPR and CNN said so, it is advisable to first understand all decent humans oppose war and such a chant is intellectually similar to reading aloud from a Dick and Jane primer.

I have also learned in life that most things are never as easy as they first appear. Search for the cause. It is far more important and worthwhile than protesting the effect. Then we can gather together and work against the cause.

If I set your house on fire I am the cause of your pain and suffering. My fire is a deadly effect of my cause. If you fail to identify me as the cause then you have not defeated my ability to create effect. The fire is without feeling or knowledge, yet it is merciless in fulfillment of mission. In this way it yields the same effect as the loyal and well trained soldier of any nation or religious subset. War and fire have much in common.

Each has a cause that requires discovery before profit in human salvation can be attained.


Anonymous said...

This hit me on several levels. One - my mom and two of my sibs survived a housefire. My mom's life has never quite been what it was before. And the irony in the situation was that the fire was caused by bad electrical wiring that was done by my father 20 years prior.

Two - I've done the peace-marching thing too. I remember talking to my dad on the phone before I went out and he cautioned me. He, too, had been there done that. I was born in Boulder in 1972...both my parents marched a lot. His cautionary suggestion was that I wouldn't always feel the way I did that night. I marched anyway. And I'm glad I was a good life experience.

Three - that cause and effect bit...very true. The thing about the world today is that it doesn't seem anybody is really working to find the cause. Because if they did, they might see that our war won't fix it. Some of these 'issues' are centuries old...the children are nutured on them.

Nobody seems willing or able to provide another option. The lack of a viable like oxygen to the fire.

Seven said...

Thank you. I hear and agree with you. I know it is a tough read because it is challenging and I offer no method or soultions, so thank you for understanding the spirit in which I offer my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why we feel the need to resolve issues with war. We have learned to do battle in the name of good since the world began, I suppose. I wonder if we are capable to learn other ways of responding. Have we been so imprinted or encoded that it is instinctual? When I say “we,” I refer to the population as a whole, of course.

Your title, “Ask Any Mother,” says a lot. We are learning that spanking (hitting) a child increases the probability that the child will respond by learning violence toward others. Yet, in the world outside the nuclear family, when one group of people see an injustice in another group, they flock with rocks and sticks to teach the “bad” people a lesson. It doesn’t work, but we don’t seem to catch on! And it has been repeated over and over. I believe that most wars are fought because we fear others, that we don’t understand people who are different. Rather than finding ways to understand them (and help them understand us), rather than teaching about alternatives, we take a short-cut and simply decide that if we spank them hard enough, they quit picking on their weaker little cousins. It is hard to change, because Change leads us into the Unknown. We need to recognize the faulty thinking: Doing things differently --> change; change --> the unknown; unknown --> fear; fear --> fighting (or flight, but we’ve been taught through centuries that fight is better than flight.)

This attitude has trickled down to our children. Look at the amount of violence in our teenagers, and even younger children. We’ve all heard the stories about “girl fights” on YouTube. Violence is now just a way of life, unfortunately. What is the “cause”? I’m not sure. I think it is ignorance of other cultures/ways of life. But I do know that something has to change, and it has to be at all levels, from children through international leaders.

The following quotes are some that I’ve gathered over the years, and I think it is interesting that they all say the same thing, yet they are from such diverse sources. George Carlin says it most succinctly.
~ ~ ~

“Now we look ahead and our prayer is that our young people and their children will develop the courage and wisdom to find victorious living in ways other than war - that their lives in a contracting world will eliminate fear of cultural differences - the mindless prejudice that often twists proper patriotism into negative nasty nationalism that turns otherwise civil societies into warring tribes”. ~~Everett Woodman, short speech at Dartmouth July 4th

“All around us, it is as if the universe is holding its breath. Waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition, or moments of revelations. This has the feeling of both. There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war that we fight is not against powers and principalities. It is against chaos and despair.” ~~Babylon 5

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” ~~Gen. Omar Bradley

“Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." ~~Hermann Goering

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.” ~~Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace-Prize Speech

“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity”. ~~George Carlin
~ ~ ~

I’ll go on record as being “anti-war.” I am against war simply because it is futile; it resolves nothing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the length of that. I get on a roll and . . .

Seven said...

Silver Lovely,
I really appreciate your personal thoughts and the remarkable collection of thoughts by others. Yes, that is really my point here. The greatest majority of the earth's population is by nature anti-war. I grow weary of the "I am anti-war" phrasing becoming a badge of honor that does nothing more than label others that may wish for resolve with all their heart and soul but beleive its achievement comes in a different form than chanting on the lawn. You are valued here, and I know you know that. From my standpoint, Dalai Lama comes closest to what I beleive is the true root source of our violence. Specifically, spiritual and lesser forms of institutionalized ignorance. The saving grace of that belief is that our salvation remains possible. Spiritual ignorance does not have to remain a permanent affliction.

Seven said...

And oh yes,
Thanks to both Jenny and Lynilu for staying within the philosophical context, I know its difficult.

Anonymous said...

Seven, I agree with you on the message from Dalai Lama. It is key to all. Has the thought crossed your mind that it seems we are also more divided spiritually at this time than we have been in past times? It is concerning to me that we are "battling" over religious variances for the first time in centuries. Even within the boundaries of the US, we seem to be more pigeon-holed and unwilling to accept other's views and practices. I know we've had discussions over related issues, but I need to say this anyway ... I hope we can move to a more accepting/forgiving, less dogmatic practice of our spirituality. I believe it starts there, for when we allow others to be, we allow ourselves to grow.

Seven said...

Yes I agree that when we allow others 'to be' we allow ourselves to grow. Like all things that have a degree of complexity there are limits to our tolerance on a criminal and reasonableness level. I am by personal make-up a libertarian. I have also known prejudice in my life which always teaches valuable lessons of tolerance.
Jenn of course can testify to the damage an over controlling and fearful human in a habitat can produce. The desperate control mechanism present in some individuals is nearly always fear based. (I am confident your profession taught you that)
A lot of our misbehavior comes from fear. When I mentioned spiritual ignorance as a prime causitive factor in violence I did not mean to exclude our old lifelong enemy 'fear'.
I will tell you another thing you already know for the benefit of other readers. I earn a living as an architect, but for many years I served my community as a fully licensed police officer every weekend. Domestic disturbances and wife beatings were routine on weekends. It was rare to find a disturbance that did not include alcohol and/or drugs. Their is an indisputable causative link. Hence, when we work to eliminate alcohol and drug abuse we also defeat domestic violence simultaneously. This is what I mean by searching for causative links. If we merely stand outside and chant "No more domestic violence" "No more domestic violence" it accomplishes very little except perhaps getting the non-drinking police chief fired.

Seven said...

Then we all celebrate our power because having removed the police chief, surely domestic violence will cease...????

Anonymous said...


You know I am against this war and not tolerant of Bush. But do you also know that I am not anti-war, nor a liberal, even if I side with them on this cause? As a Christian, I believe in such a thing as just war, explained by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. I believe Vietnam began as a just war. Afganistan was the same. But not Iraq. I know the discussions can get ugly. But I choose my positions per issue, not per political partisan side. I really want you to understand this about me.

Seven said...

I've nothing other than respect for you. My point here is that those of my generation marched and brought the US government to surrender and release in the Vietnam War. However, the Viet war did not end. Thousands more died in the years afterward as the war continued without our participation. War is only defeated by eliminating its cause. Do you recall when the crowd in Nazareth attempted to propel Jesus off a cliff because he would not perform his miracles willy-nilly for them in Nazareth? We often turn our righteous and deserved anger at targets that are at best collateral and often germane to the cause of peace. Then we applaud the collateral damage as if we are quite wonderful indeed. The thousands of peasants and ordinary citizens that died in Vietnam after we peace marched our asses away couldn't have given a tinkers damn about our newly won freedom from war. We did not end the war we only made ourselves feel falsely powerful. know full well I love ya. At the end of the day all we really have is our ability to communicate, listen and understand one another in a spirit of acceptance and genuine consideration. You have always done that for me.

Seven said...

BTW, if all goes as scheduled we will be in Philadelphia again for the Penn Relays. Franklin Field on a weekend in late April. Last year we ate at a terrific seafood restaurant called Crescent City, South 9th Street. It was marvelous......

Anonymous said...

If you were a speaker and I was a listening audience, I'd give you a standing ovation.

Seven said...

I now how much you enjoy a philosophical discussion and so your comment is very meaningful to me.
As I have said in the past, yours is a heart that beats in the rhythm of a better world. Every generation must hand downs the keys to the generation below. I feel our world is blessed that those of your mindset and intellectual ability inherit the keys next.

patti_cake said...

War and Fire.. both destructive, both can seem, at times, unstoppable. Hopeless.
Too bad we can't throw a bucket of water on War but sometimes a bucket of water isn't enough for a big fire either.
Yesterday Madison was going through a "shut up" and hitting stage. I explained to her that we don't say "shut up" that it is an ugly word and rude. As far as the hitting I told her not to hit either, then after awhile I promptly lost patience and spanked her to which she hit me back again. I was so disgusted with myself. Sometimes you see the cause/effect but you just don't know what else to do. I know i'm getting off subject here. Madison is a child who will "try" you at every turn. Much like fire.. and war but with not quite as deadly consequences.

Seven said...

Not off topic one bit. Center on. Unfortunately, as Jenn says, we are dealing with generations of people that have been taught to hate and hurt that which they do not understand and therfore fear......and I'm NOT talking about American citizens or leaders.

Anonymous said...

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Our country has been attacked...abroad and on our own soil. Vile men with twisted minds and a corrupted religion have EVERY intention of destroying this country and her people.

There can be NO VICTORY WITHOUT DEFEAT. And there will be no Peace until the enemy has been destroyed- or we are all dead.

I would send my son...I would encourage him to fight- I would risk what is more dear to me than my own heart for the DEFEAT of the terrorists who can not, and will not- EVER- be content to live in Peace as long as the infidels (US)are breathing~
There is no way to understand madness...and Islamic terrorists are just that- Mad/insane/crazy.
There is no "talking' to them. You talk- they cut your head off!

I think some things are worth fighting for...

No, I don't love war. And we didn't start it- they did.
I'd love to see us finish it though- in a blaze of glory- defeating the enemy- putting out the ill fire of jihad...

that is until Hezbollah starts blowing things up in Charlotte :(

Seven said...
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Seven said...

Its a no-brainer that the ACLU will argue in court that terrorists have every right to homestead in North Carolina! Expect the suit to be filed soon.
I think its fine to identify the causes that you see in the war equation. I read your response carefully and noted you did not call names or disparage any parties or politicians and I appreciate that. Unless of course, terrorists are reading, (and I'm sure I am available in Charlotte) then they might be offended.....:p
I believe that marchers are earnest in their effort. I truly think most want peace with all their heart. The problem I am expressing here is that creating a political surrender on America's part does not end this war. Many, many more will die when we leave and the dead will also consist of innocent women and children, as is already occurring.
If the marchers are seeking intellectual honesty their "No More War" sign should in fact read "No more killing of American soldiers for Iraqi freedom. They should die in war not us"
That's not very catchy however, and it would take a darn big sign. I find the idea that marching and bringing our troops home ends all the suffering for humanity to be historically shortsighted. It solidly reinforces the concept of the Ugly American while pretending to be very benevolent and fuzzy warm peaceful. Its hypocrisy at its finest. They are not marching against war, they are marching against Americans dying for Iraq's freedom. And I don't know that I disagree, I'm still working on my thoughts. I'm just asking for a glimmer of intellectual honesty from my alleged peace-loving fellow Americans.

Anonymous said...

Hi Seven,

Very thought provoking post that stirred up a lot within your readers. I have to ask this. How can you be at war with someone who doesn’t even value their own life? For instance, the radical extremist Muslims who seem to think that if they kill in the name of Allah, they will receive 72 virgins. So they end up with the mission of suicide bombing. How can we even compete with these people?

The cause in my opinion started on 9/11. The thing I don’t understand is how it went from fiery of Afghanistan and then hopped over to Iraq.

My only guess would be “fear”. They feared the worst possible scenario of hidden weapons of mass destruction.

Not found. Move on. Go to where the war originated in the first place. Go to where bin Ladin made his plans to take down the Twin Towers.

How can you be at war with people who don’t fight fair? It’s like sucker punching your enemy at the school playground. It’s not a fair fight. Then again, is it a fair fight in Iraq? We’re not winning. We can’t. They’re “sucker punching” us…and they’ll continue until all of our terrific soldiers are gone. Our soldiers’ hearts aren’t even in this war. Most of them oppose it. Some are even AWOL! Some flocked to Canada so they didn’t have to fight in Iraq. I really don’t blame them.

This isn’t a war anymore. It’s an attack that we’re losing. So the “cause” of this fire is in another country, while we try to put it out in Iraq.

The fire’s still burning.

Seven said...

Thoughtful response. I think the way we fight an enemy that doesn't fight fair has three possibilities (that I can think of), listed in order of preference:
1. Change the ideology of why they insist on killing in God's name(this has to be accomplished by leading Muslim clerics causing the Muslim population to judge and disapprove of the barbarism and spiritual ignorance)
2. Destroy the economic capability and war supporting capability of the enemy. That will take a global effort, and the world appears too weak and sectionalized to muster the effort.
3. Private, hidden ownership armies funded by major corporations and governments that have economic concerns in the affected areas. Private, hidden funding armies can ignore traditional rules of engagement and also avoid being shut down by a country's political activists until the extermination of the truly evil is complete.