Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Getting off the Wheel
For thousands of years, human history has been punctuated by a continuous chain of aggression, conflict and wars. These conflagrations are far too numerous to effectively catalog without requiring documentation on such a massive scale that it would be more than enough to depress even the most stoic and dispassionate of historians. Some of these conflicts span decades due to a seemingly endless cycle of aggression followed by violent retaliation and retribution that inspires the adversary to further atrocities and on and on it goes until either side or both are so decimated and exhausted by conflict that the hostilities end. This cessation of hostilities does not preclude, however, the possibility that the conflict would be reignited at some future time. This story is all too familiar and the human cost is staggering beyond imagination. It has been estimated that World War II alone resulted in the loss of 50 million human lives worldwide.
This process is not foreign to human experience. Quite to the contrary, we have witnessed within the current era the evolution of thinking and behavior around the areas of race, women’s issues and matters relating to sexual preference. It is my fondest hope and expectation that over time – the time required in this instance may be considerable – humanity will discard the pernicious idea that conflict is resolvable through violent means and embrace peace as being an integral and necessary part of the human experience. When this transformation actually occurs, then and only then will social justice and true equality of all persons be an undeniable reality.
What needs to happen for this cycle to be finally and irrevocably broken? This is a question repeatedly asked by those who have actively pursued peace and social justice over the centuries. The answer remains elusive. Having this discussion is vitally important if the species is to endure for a prolonged period of time especially given the strain on natural resources on planet earth created by the material needs of a population of over 7 billion individuals - a population that continues to grow and further increase the pressure placed on those essentials for survival – clean water, clean air, shelter and adequate nutrition. These issues are enormous and do not include the ramifications of unchecked climate change as a result of the combustion of so-called “fossil fuels.”
In my opinion, in order to radically change the trajectory of human history, transformation must be approached from within. It is the cultural and societal assumptions that we have all been taught to adhere to - whether through overt or more subtle means – that must be examined and ultimately reformed. It is through self-discipline and self-analysis that individuals can examine their motivations and more accurately define the internal forces that drive them. It is through such a process that raw emotions - through which rage and aggression operate – can be successfully constrained and ultimately supplanted by reasoned judgment and tempered by love.