June, 2002, Volume 9 Nr. 10, Issue 106
THAT SICKENING FEELING IN THE GUT: INCHING TOWARD ANOTHER BIG ONE
Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
Violence as arrogance is nothing new. Violence or threat of it to accomplish what cannot be accomplished by political means is what most people consider to be terrorism. There is a "war" presently being waged and marketed that "may not end in our lifetime" against terrorism. The arrogance of this statement alone is enough for any critically thinking person to pause and reflect: Who is making the statement? Who stands to gain from such a hopeless future? Is this unending battle of our lifetime the replacement for the highly profitable Cold War of the past? Where does it lead the 6-billion people of planet Earth?
I hear the once greatly-respected United States and its Supreme Court selected leader paint "those that are not with us" as being "against us" in the "war" on terrorism. This war on terrorism is one in which the resident in the White House and his team are willing and able to extend to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Columbia, Cuba, etc., anywhere that "freedom", a code word for brand America and so-called Free Enterprise, is perceived as being threatened. We're always "at-war" with something. In my lifetime there was the Cold War, the War Against Communism, Whip Inflation Now, The War on Poverty, The War on Drugs, etc., and now, the War On Terrorism. We want to eliminate any self-defined scourge, except war itself.
The administration tells us daily about fighting terrorism. Yet, for 30 years, the diplomatic minds on the world through the United Nations have not been able to reach a consensus on the definition of the term -- terrorism. I won't belabor the point, however, it is worth examining the operating perspectives of the individuals or power groups invoking the term -- a term loaded with understandable emotional response. For example, would a violent resistance to Nazism in the 1940's be considered terrorism? Would slaves in the United States fighting their masters for their freedom be terrorists? I'm not proffering an answer. Suffice it to say that the infrastructure in power at the time would probably say that such action is terrorism. Definition is often the domain of those in the position to disseminate and propagate a particular self-serving, self-interested, culture and mindset. The definer interprets the term according to what's best for them.
When I was growing up, the United States was touted as being at the forefront of spreading freedom, justice, fair play and dignity on planet Earth. We were brought up to believe that the nation was imbued with a sense of civil and human rights given to us by the almost divinely inspired founding fathers through the Constitution. These wise, but not faultless, thinkers recognized their documents shortcomings. They and their successors attempted to corrected some of them through the inclusion of the Amendments, i.e., the Bill of Rights. Back in my youth, one was hard pressed to hear anyone contradicting the righteousness of U.S. history and prowess. Those that did were branded Communists. Today, those that criticize the first U.S. war of the 21st century are branded as unpatriotic, or worse.
The naivete of youth may be excusable. The naivete of adulthood, however, is chosen ignorance. Given the all-engulfing nature of corporate media, transcending such ignorance is today countermanded by and through deliberate media manipulation. Freedom of the press implies the freedom of press owners to publish anything they want -- not necessarily information for the critically thinking public, an endangered species in the USA today. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) offers an example.
On January 16, 2002, ABC's "World News Tonight" reported on Human Rights Watch's annual world report. ABC quite accurately reported the group's statement:
What the ABC report left out, according to FAIR, was Human Rights Watch's criticism of the United States' own domestic anti-terrorism measures which were "threatening long-held human rights principles." This self-censorship as a means of manipulating the masses is a direct consequence of the "if you're not with us then you're against us" modus operandi. Without much whimper (at least not up till now), the U.S. public has been subjected to the erosion of many rights heretofore considered sacrosanct. The European public and much of the rest of the world see through the illusion of this media-generated reality and the pseudo-landscape of what passes for normal and acceptable belief and thinking.
Inability to Move Beyond
The violence perpetrated on September 11, 2001 is a disgusting and vulgar example of humanity's inability to move beyond pain, suffering, destruction and death as a means by which humans attempt to influence each other and settle scores. This violence is a self-defining characteristic of the species. Wars, death and strife are the reference points of how we write and interpret humankind's history. We are a species that claims to be the planet's most advanced. We have used our ability to extend our technical and scientific prowess to refine how we kill each other.
What does it matter whether the weapon of choice for annihilation is a gas chamber, a jetliner, two nuclear devices dropped on civilian populated Japanese cities, distribution of smallpox laced blankets to the indigenous of North America, bunji sticks, rocks, suicide bombing, bunker blasters, putsches and purges of Eastern Europe or the East, etc.? Rather than moving toward a commonality of humanity, the world is seeing an unprecedented inching toward a global confrontation between the haves and the have nots. My contention is that the world's elite and ruling circles have accepted such inevitability and believe that in the long run they will come out on top and survive, even after a cataclysmic foray into attempting to reorder planetary demographics in their favor.
Such conflagration becomes ever more imminent when coupled with eschatological self-righteousness and the egotistical dogma of nationalistic divine selection. It matters not from whence the religious tradition, a divine self-righteousness emerges. Whether it be a belief in the god-given gift of nuclear weaponry, or in a holy war elevating human sacrifice and martyrdom as blessed aspiration, the end result is historically unworthy of a species that lays claim to being the children of the Almighty. Why must humans create fairy tales of extraordinary masters that crave death as a holy to them? How can a civilized species expend such enormous time, energy and resources into ever more sophisticated, and often, simple but ingenious, mechanisms for killing each other?
The sickening feeling that I have in my gut is that the world's power brokers, the wealthiest and most powerful people, those who play chess with human pawns, are inching their way toward a world-wide conflagration -- World War III. What does it matter that multitudes die in an ultimate end-game quest, that of achieving capital planetary hegemony through unlimited finance investment without borders nor petty pesky people-first obstructionism. Globalization now exhibits cracks as a growing world-wide movement believes more and more that a better world is possible, one where the standards of the poor weigh more in importance than the Standards and Poor Index. The Globalizers are acutely aware of this growing anti-globalization Internationalism.
Unless one is considerably wealthy with an ability to influence policy and one's standard of living beyond the powerless, one is nothing more than a commodity capable of increasing the wealthy's bottom line -- as long as one can make money for the system. The sale, purchase, movement of money is what matters. If you are incapable of buying anything or otherwise not contributing to profit generation, of what value are you to the system? This is what makes incarceration a big business. The valueless are made valuable through for-profit prisons. You can make money by profit, increases in profit, and increases in the increases in profit from locking up derelicts, the homeless, the unemployed, the minorities, the infirm, as long as the system uses tax dollars to fund private corporations that do so. Keep in mind that paying the prison industrial complex $35,000/year to warehouse a non-violent drug offender profits shareholders, while giving the same amount to youth to send them to college is viewed as unprofitable, unworthy of the "free-enterprise system".
The same can be said of the aging and the sick. As long as the warehoused seniors have resources to transfer to the nursing home, their life savings and their home can be liquidated for profit while their Social Security is pocketed, the infirm industrial complex has a reason to provide lodging, food and an occasional movie as non-agitative entertainment. Medical care and prescription drugs are another example where profit comes before people.
Your value in an out-of-control for-profit society is dependent upon your individual ability to contribute to increasing the value of value. Having no assets to migrate upward makes one valueless This cannot go on much longer. And so, the world inches toward a restructuring, a reestablishment of the balancing between the have and the have nots. What the wealthy have is power. What the down-trodden have is numbers and an awakening consciousness. They both know it. The major error for humanity is that the belief that violence will or can, in the end, accomplish an acceptable outcome by either side. My fear is that the wealthy believe that the payoff is not only inevitable, not only acceptable, but also preferable.
Why is it so easy to share the violence and so difficult to share the wealth? The answer is simple. Humanity has evolved very little over the past 1,000 years when it comes to trade, that is the means by which we barter our wealth, goods and services with each other.
With equal, that is fair (rather than "free") trade in place, the dominant world culture of today falls apart. The dominant world cultural elite are not about to let that happen. 'Tis better to burn the Earth and let the powerful class survive than to share equally with mankind the planetary bounty as sustenance. The X-Industrial Complex - where "X" is military, agricultural, medical, pharmaceutical, political, aging, and even dying - is everywhere. "From each according to his greed" will never, in their minds, transmogrify into "to each according to his need". It is the exploitation of the need that makes greed possible. Conversely, it is greed that creates need.
While there is a growing recognition that the masses are being manipulated against each, we are much more apt to broadly depict an ever-present Other as eternal enemy. This media propagated smokescreen is quite effective. We, whoever "we" may be, are, however, always righteous, without moral defect, the permanent resident of the high ground. The other is always the evil-doer. And the world's only superpower kettle has been calling the pots black while seeing itself as only white.
The situation today between India and Pakistan is ominous. One would think with almost 100 nuclear weapons between the two adversaries and major British newspapers publishing warnings about their probable use, that the world's only Superpower would wage peace with the same gusto that it wages war. The sickening feeling in the gut continues. There is no great statesman in the world up to the challenge. There is no leadership from the Oval Office who knows the pursuit of peace well enough to be effective nor trustworthy. Even worse, the preachers of Christian values from within the administration are devoid of Jesus' fundamental teaching, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
The Council for a Livable World reports that U.S. military budget for fiscal 2003 will be $379-billion. They further state that the increase alone of this budget, $48-billion, from FY2002 to FY2003 is greater than the total annual military budget of any one country. The first runner up is the United Kingdom with a budget of just over $34-billion. What would the beloved Jesus, the Prince of Peace, say about this? Would the powers that be invite this man in his robes, with his long hair, beard and sandals, into the White House beyond the barricades? Perhaps, they could give Jesus a tour of nuclear weapons production plants, take some spin photos with him sitting, helmet-clad in the cockpit of an F-16? Why not show him the complete set of purchased satellite photographs of Afghanistan (to keep them out of the eyes of the public) of to see the results of good versus evil? We could then ask him if he would sign the landmine treaty and the child soldier treaty. The U.S. has not.
The world population as of this writing according to the U.S. Census Bureau is 6,226,378,389. Is it not disheartening that amidst that multitude, there seemingly is no-one in positions of world power dedicating their energies toward world peace? That sickening feeling in the gut refuses to go away as humanity inches toward another big catastrophe. The best we can hope for, perhaps, is to individually do our small part in making the planet more peaceful. We can alter our thinking to reflect peace. We can train the mind to think of others as worthy of the same peace we wish for ourselves, and, we can behave accordingly. My gut sense is, however, that unless peace attains the same priority as war, that this simply may not be enough.
© 2002 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD