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September 19, 2006, Volume 14 Nr. 1, Issue 220

War As Human Defect.  Faith As Disease

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

There are two five-year old dogs in our family.  Both are rescue dogs who were abused and abandoned.  The short-hair, chocolate Labrador retriever, named Berrigan after the peace activist, Father Phil Berrigan, has been with us almost three years.  He came our way the same year that Phil passed away.  The other dog, Geordie, a long-hair chocolate lab and golden retriever mix came from a bankrupt farm in Ohio.  Geordie has been with us for about 6 months.  He came our way a few days after we put our long-time companion, Willie, a fifteen year old, pale yellow, Labrador retriever to rest a hundred feet behind our Vermont home.  Every once in a while, I get overwhelmed over the loss of Willie dog.  The only down side of having dogs is the shortness of their lives and the pain of their passing.  

As I feel the pain of Willie's loss I cannot help thinking of the people in Middle East who have lost loved ones, friends and family.  People are daily experiencing the excruciating pain of war.  I find it unfathomable that I kept diabetic Willie dog alive and well for many years, giving him insulin injections, while thousands of miles away, people were willingly dropping bombs, firing rockets and slaughtering each other.  1,187 civilians in Lebanon killed, 3,600 wounded.  44 civilians dead in  Israel, 100 wounded.  150,000 casualties in Iraq.  Thousands in Afghanistan.  More dead in Somalia.  Dozens of people blown up by people who blow themselves up.  Tank fire in one direction.  RPG fire in the other.  Prisoner abuse.  Torture.  Soldiers killing a family, and raping a girl.  Depleted uranium.  Blood spilled on the sad earth, ad nauseum.  And on, and on, and on.  The absurdity and insanity of it all.  Just before the cease fire in the Israel-Hezbollah war went into effect at 0500 hours GMT, 14 August, there was a final push for maximizing destruction and death.  Last licks, before time runs out.  The maximization of casualties is not the characteristic of a sophisticated and highly developed species.  Quite the contrary.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as:

The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.

Capsi A, McClay J, Moffitt TE, et al. in the Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children, (Science 2002) state that a "universal risk factor" for antisocial behavior is maltreatment during childhood.  If they are correct, then what can we expect a dozen years from now when the oppressed, bombed and abused youth in the Middle East become adults?  The combination of nurture (abuse) and nature (human defect) will continue to exacerbate the cycle of human violence.

In Violence—a noxious cocktail of genes and the environment, Mariya Mosajee, journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, (2003 May; 96(5): 211–214) writes,

In the past, violence was regarded as an obvious infringement of basic human law and self-control, but now there are strong pressures to medicalize...there is mounting evidence that violent behaviour has a pathological basis...

Antiwar Folks and the Human Defect

In the United States, many in the anti-war movement advocate violent resistance as a way to stop aggression.  They sympathize with the oppressed making excuses for violent resistance saying there is no other way to resolve conflict.  Criticizing pacifists for being non-violent, some anti-war folk say that non-violence by the oppressed only leads to more oppression and violence.  They blame non-violence for violence.  Using violence to end violence does not make sense to me.  This only adds to people's misery and perpetuates humanity being stuck in the jungle mentality where fight or flight are the only options.  The defect of violence has overwhelmed the people of planet Earth, being passed on generation after generation.  And, it is just as prevalent in the anti-war movement as anywhere else.  It is normal for humans to engage in mass destruction.  It is normal for humans to maximize the kill, to bomb indiscriminately, use depleted uranium shells, drop thousands of cluster bomblets, to blow themselves up in suicide attacks in restaurants and buses.  It is normal to seek revenge by death.  It is normal for people to be stuck in this failed mindset, even though the outcome is always the same: more violence, war, destruction, disease and death.  Violence is accepted as normal human behavior.  

Katha Kelly, writing from Beirut in Approaching a Ceasefire (Common Dreams Aug 14, 2006) says, 

If equipping an area with weapons, including nuclear weapons, was a reliable way to ensure security, Israel and Palestine would be paradise by now.  

As we know, they are not.  

More of the Same

Increasing population and population density are stretching the planet's natural resources and threatening the environment.  These pressures bring about increased tensions which require creative resolutions.  Yet the world's greatest super-power persists in staying the course, mistakenly thinking that its incredible military might is the answer.  The events of the recent past are further evidence that violence only begets violence.  People continue to suffer and die.  A great super-power, however, should know better.  A super-power's greatness is not measured by its ability to destroy, but by its ability to lead the world away from destruction.

George W. Bush, the supposed leader of the supposedly Free World, refused to call for an immediate cease fire in war in Lebanon.  He insisted that a "lasting peace" was more important than immediate peace.  Mr. Mission Accomplished cares very little about the suffering of poor and working people, especially when his agenda is on the line.  George W. Bush, the poster child for the war-making defect that plagues humanity, has yet to attend a single funeral for any of the over two-thousand U.S. soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What do tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives, or several thousand civilian lives in Lebanon or Afghanistan, matter?  What does it matter that thousands upon thousands of illegal cluster bombs were dropped, or that unexploded clusterets continue killing children who play with them?  It does not matter not at all.  The U.S. public is spared the horror of its complicity in Bush's war crimes.  Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt offers the following "advice to Iraqis who see TV images of innocent civilians killed by coalition troops: 'change the channel' " (Iraq Body Count).  Just change the channel.  Have faith.  Believe anything the administration puts out.

Faith As Disease

When one listens to Bush supporters, one becomes witness to the same psychological phenomenon that Bush exhibits.  Many Bush supporters, like Bush himself, have faith.  Bush has faith in religion.  Bush supporters have faith in the man that has faith in his religion in addition to their own faith in their religion.  G.W. Bush, perhaps the most incurious president in United States history, is not much interested in pursuing knowledge.  In a complex, fast-paced, ever-changing world, Bush prefers absolute answers.  Religion satisfies his emotional need for making sense of the world by providing respite from and answers for just about everything.  Many believers cannot go beyond their emotion-satisfying belief system.  Their minds become entrapped within religion's fabrications.  This mental complacency and stagnation is a pathology of limited options.  The disease responsible for it is faith, a psychological crutch that affects the vast majority of humanity, a crutch responsible for creating intense and immense suffering throughout the ages.   Keeping the faith often means staying the course.  To the Bush regime and its supporters it means not letting go of the promise of pie in the sky.  

On September 18, 2006, Frank J. Ranelli, in the website in an article entitled, "How Bush Failed Jesus and the Return of the Christian Crusade", writes:

As the government of the United States ostensibly wages an unbounded and ceaseless war with Islamic religious fundamentalists, our current President, George W. Bush, has proclaimed he senses a "third awakening of religious devotion" within America. This "third awakening" that Bush cloaks, but does not conceal, is the return of Christianity as a crusade. The sheer oddity of pronouncing a rebirth of a feverish religion, in a country founded on a secular government and not a spiritual one, is the tenable reality that we have become what we most fervently oppose, despise, and scorn -- a society ruled by theocracy and not democracy.

Peter Baker, in Bush Tells Group He Sees a 'Third Awakening' (Washington Post, Sep 13, 2006) writes that Bush senses a " 'Third Awakening' of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists..."    Bush said that,

A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me...There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s -- boom -- and I think there's change happening here...It seems to me that there's a Third Awakening.

Bush has it right when he says, "There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s".  Bush has drawn many members of his regime, those who are destroying the United States Constitution, from his predecessor in crime and corruption, Richard M. Nixon.  These include Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.  

According to Peter Baker, Bush refrains from framing the so-called war on terror in religious terms.  However, in 2001, he had to apologize for using the term "crusade".  The use of that term is revealing.  The apology was only a political move.  Bush flies by faith as do many Bush followers, regardless of their denials.  Bush also has it right more than he knows when he says that there is an awakening taking place.  There is, indeed.  That awakening, however, is the recognition by ever-increasing numbers of people that Bush and his corrupt partners have exceeded the crimes committed by Richard Nixon.  Nixon had the war in Vietnam.  George W. Bush has what he is calling World War III.  If that appears as alarmist, consider that Newt W. Gingrich, the orchestrator of the Republican "revolution" in 1994, already running for president in 1998, said that he would,

Insist that Congress immediately pass legislation "that recognizes that we are entering World War III and serves notice that the U.S. will use all its resources to defeat our enemies -- not accommodate, understand or negotiate with them, but defeat them.  (Inter Press Service, Sept 13., 2006).

The neo-cons have their faith.  They have declared their dogma.  It is a dogma of perpetual war for perpetual power and profit.  People who adopt a proclaimed type of religious faith, such as Evangelical Christianity, must accept the dogma of the neocons' faith.  To be opposed to war is to be against them.  How far this pathology will spread remains to be seen.  Humanity's defect, its proclivity to violence, and the pathology of faith, may be more than the species can handle.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, I will hug my dogs.  I will mourn and grieve for the suffering and dead, the multitudes in pain as a result of the twin human barbarisms of violence and faith.   I will work for the overcoming of the human defect and surviving the pathology of faith.  There is little choice, and little time.

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE.  He is 30-year veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace.  His writings have appeared in Metaphoria, After Downing Street, Buzzflash, Counterpunch, Thomas Paine's Corner,, Omni Center, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and others.  

©2006 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

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