Sunday, March 06, 2005

War, thy name is human frailty

See in history how conflict grows from shameful little seeds to the bloody flower of war with such repeatability. It flows along, enabled on most scales by impersonality but the costs are always personal, thus you know we feed ourselves a lot of myths...I offer you more constructive myths about conflict:

All of the PR that war making throws up speaks or shouts about strength and courage ["ours"] and treachery ["theirs"]. But most campaigning for war stands upon fear and little of it stands up to even the lightest scrutiny. From "Gott mit uns" to the predictable "they fired first!", you have to wonder that so few are struck by the symmetry of propagandas in conflict.

When hatred straddles your path, veins popping, spitting and screaming its thousand righteous reasons in your face, remember to dig for the fear that is its only honest reason.

The most fertile soil for the seeds of war is alienation. It is a weakness old and broad as mankind itself that we can be distant even from our neighbors, ignorant of the humanity in even those with whom we trade and have commerce. When we are satisfied for a label to stand in for a tribe, a sect or a nation, we are doomed.

Sometimes the best way to be rid of an enemy is to befriend him.

I like to think "Know thy enemy" works as well for the pacifist as for the warrior. What beneficent force put that phrase in mouths of old military gurus when, acted upon in its fullest sense, it might turn a warrior into a pacifist? Maybe it hasn't worked yet because its never fully quoted. Its oldest attribution is Sun Wu Tzu, who followed that pharse with ", know thyself..." not something a warmonger would really want to do.

Study will conquer more fears than armor ever did.

And do not insist that the other side study too, for the existance of sides is a construct in the minds of one party that our natures cause to be immediately reflected in the minds of the other party, a self-fullfilling prophesy of separation.

The best defense may be to take no offense.

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