Thursday, December 28, 2006

Turn left, NOW!!!

Ever seen animal hatred manifested in humans before, first hand, up close and personal? It’s a very hard thing to understand. I’m not talking about a drunken fist fight, or nasty words and flying fingers during the morning commute – I’m talking about the offended party following the perceived offender until they stop, and then shooting them, point blank, in the head, for cutting them off in traffic. I’m talking about stepping out of a car with an automatic weapon on the campus of your soon-to-be-ex wife’s college campus and indiscriminately cutting loose at anything living. I’m talking about wanting, more than anything, to kill someone because they’re of a different faith, or color, or nationality, or political affiliation: That kind of hatred - I have, and I don’t understand it at all. I don’t think that anyone really does. This is the kind of hatred and violence that dismays God…
There are many, many books written about these things, past and present – The holocaust, the Middle East, the Balkans, Darfur, Stalin’s pogroms, Mao’s social cleansing, and on, and on, and on… There are first hand accounts, scholarly treatises – I’ve read some of them. The first-hand accounts are shocking, sickening, and heart breaking. The scholarly accounts strike me, (In general, with a few notable exceptions), as exercises in presenting the intelligence and wisdom of the author, rather than vehicles for change or healing… I’m sure that a few tenured positions have been won on the merits of these works, but what does that do for us in the big picture view? Not much, apparently – Granted, it’s vital to be aware of it, to acknowledge it and to the best of our ability, try to understand it, if we are to make any serious efforts to keep such things from happening again.
Writing about the Bosnian conflict, the military historian John Keegan, called it, "A primitive tribal conflict only anthropologists can understand:" That to me is probably about as intellectual as one can get regarding such events and still be on the mark.
What does this say about human beings, that when the facade of civilization is stripped away and we are reduced to our basest instincts, our predilections are for violence and homicide? How do we counter, fix, or help fellow humans who truly believe that if they act in this way, the world will be a better place? What’s the cure? Is it science, or faith, politics or diplomacy, or some alchemical mix thereof? Whatever the cure, if we’ve genuinely been seeking it, we’ve not found it yet.
I’d love to be able to point at our sick society, the ills we’ve plagued each other and the earth with, as the culprit for this, but it ain’t necessarily so – This kind of horror has been visited on humans and human society since the get go – It’s older than our current problems, without question. It’s apparently ingrained in humankind, like our forgotten 6th sense and vestigial tails…
So, is there a way out? Well, in fact, I believe that there is – And in fact, I think that we can indeed blame this problem on society, or civilization, or to be more precise; a distinct lack thereof. See, I think the reason we’ve never outgrown this horrible manifestation is that we have never actually formed the society or civilization along the lines of the one we are truly called to be. I think that the answer is so simple, it’s just plumb evaded us all these millennia – I think a lot of other people know this, too.
Here it is, although, actually, I’ve already mentioned this here, in a rant about politics: It’s called a human civilization, or a humanistic civilization, if you prefer: It’s called a world where we care for each other: A world where the aim is to live with and for one another. A world where we take aim at our problems; hunger, disease, poverty, and ignorance, and we fix them. A world where what we do is not strive for more profit, more waste, more politics, more business, more this and that and everything, but a world where we realize we can feed everyone if we work at it. A world where we aim to do what we’re called to do – To cure the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and end the hatred - To care for this earth and everything on it.
Now, go ahead, call me simplistic, naïve, ignorant, blah, blah, blah – But you know what? If that’s what you believe, you’re wrong; dead wrong. Not believing it is why we are where we are. Not believing it is why we don’t try. Not believing it’s necessary is why we’ll kill this planet and go the way of the dinosaurs as a species. Not stopping all this soon and very soon and changing course radically is why Darfur, and Bosnia, and Auschwitz will happen again, and will keep happening, popping up here and there and everywhere, until we do get a clue - or not...
So what, you ask, got me on this rant this morning? Well, let me tell you – It was an NPR piece about the competition between two top American research labs to produce the newest nukes for our submarine fleet. They are going to design these without having to test them. One of the spokesmen called the design they were working on, “Classic,” and “Elegant.” A nuclear device – Elegant and classic – I’m sorry, but how completely fucking sick is that?
So, ask yourself this; do you want to keep going merrily down the path we’re on, or is it time for a hard left turn?

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