Here we go again, comments on Friday, November 13th, 2015
And now we have the latest lashing out, the latest round of misguided young men, enlisted by lunatics who may have sat in desert landscapes in a seemingly ancient pace of life, allowing for the long contemplation of the western lifestyle, indiscretions and trespasses. The task they have laid out for design, one also of ancient practice: To scheme yet another effective surprise attack, to land another blow in the endless string of human activity that is infliction and temporary hurrah.
I had the same reaction witnessing the twin tower collapse, that the adversaries had taken time to arrive at the perfect plan to turn western technology upon itself. My mind didn't immediately return to 2001 until the media immediately did, so salivating for any excuse to do so of course.
But missing, as usual, was any self-reflection. You see, forever as there have been 'sides' there has been justification for violence, likely much waxing and beautiful winding rhetoric describing the 'just war.' And you see, there are and have been someone called the 'other,' and man, undeniably solid in the camp of territorial creatures, us and them have collided, and as the earth has become more and more elevator-sized, our contact has become constant. And you see, seldom does anyone explain that there are those who just can't operate as we might see fit. Within our thoughts we assume great wisdom and we assume that we are correct in our analysis, and it is even our responsibility to share the light with the less-enlightened, the barbarians. But you know, there are others who don't see it that way, and they are also alive, and if you quest to kill them, they will forever seek retribution, and return action in kind. This is what is called perpetual war.
But you say: "What, you think you can talk to these people?"
We occasionally pay heed to the scientific method, which clearly outlines the phenomenon known as action and reaction, though somehow, despite the obvious fact that we act upon the world, we seem to forget that there are reactions. It becomes a matter of cluelessness: 'I didn't realize I was standing on your foot, that if I dressed like your ancestor you would find it odd or insulting or if I bombed your village and killed your extended family that you might get very angry and dedicate your life to my demise.'
It is likely simultaneously true that all men are essentially the same with irreconcilable differences. We might call someone a religious extremist, a person with certain attributes. What is it that they might do or not do for which our justification for attempting to kill them comes easily? Undoubtedly, an other is likely to have a mirrored list, calling us out.
Either of us can stand on the apple box and declare: "You there have said and done the deed worthy of our wrath." What have they said and done? What have we said and done? Dare I suggest that a shift could occur in which from this day forward, we will cease fire and simply just list the trespasses, and compare them at a long table loaded with tea.
The accounting would be difficult. "You killed my father, my son. You stole my land, my resources. You said I was an infidel, an idiot. You said my stories were myth, my practice primitive. You left me to rot in the desert, penniless." And so on. And this animosity has gone on so long no one remembers a world without it.
The other might say: "I think I understand you, my people have studied hard and we now know the injustice of our forefathers. We see and understand the pattern of mankind's waves of strong invaders that have forever traipsed around the globe attacking and plundering, and we see now that this was unfair. We are even sorry, and to the heart bear the burden of our ancestors."
And could we negotiate reparations and schedule peace?
One might respond: "(But) You killed my father, my son. You stole my land, my resources. You said I was an infidel, an idiot. You said my stories were myth, my practice primitive. You showed up with bulldozers and building materials and told me to keep moving, this desert was now useful to you."
But a great-grand-child might say, should we persist with apology and with rifle rusting at our feet: "I think I am prepared to accept your apology. Perhaps you can repair our relationship. Perhaps you can help me, as I wish to be helped, to better my life's condition." Or perhaps he might say nothing. Or perhaps he might say: "We wish to live here in our ancient land, in our ancient state, in our ancient method. We wish that you prevent intervention, and keep your voices away, keep your gaseous incentives toward your style, your insidious poisonous culture, in the jar."
And one might respond: "But we are enlightened. We feel a little strange saying it for our mothers no doubt suggested we maintain some humility, but we think we know the correct way to live. In our weakest hour we may dream of numerous nubile wives, but we really know this is not right. And we really think you will enjoy our technology, and our markets can become open to your product. It is true that we wrestle with prejudice, intolerance, xenophobia and class warfare, but we have a formula for the proper way to look, speak, to engage our institutions and product distribution centers and if you could just see them you too could become wealthy and satisfied. We would celebrate your diverse take on the 1/4" pounder and 'Married with children.' We know it may take time for you to fully understand 'Glee' or 'Lady Gaga.'"
Of course, none of this addresses two major areas restricting us here in the enlightened domains: Fear and the possession of (currently) the biggest guns. We are outraged, those (I'm sorry) relatively few of our own torn to pieces in these massacres are mostly innocent, their friends and relatives forever burdened by their losses no doubt. And we are sure the enemy is an enemy, that they are ready, that they are coming. And we are sure our soldiers and our weapons are superior; we best just take care of the problem. We are the types to get stuff done.
But the question remains: Can we EVER follow any course besides responding to massacres with massacres? Clearly it is the path of least resistance to respond in kind and then some, for to simply make a graphic, and unflinching report of a violent act without return fire is purely egghead weakness, emboldens the adversary to strike the wimp again, one who will just stand there bleeding. We shall forever have the biggest gun, and the elimination of our enemies, and further their smallest embers, must be just beyond that next hill and we will take it. As efficient as Hitler's solution may have been, it did not bring about its aim. We claim that we are not engaged in such unspeakable quest; we are helping, like wise men bearing gifts, the gifts of assimilation into our way. But the gifts need be received or our generosity and good humor may fade.
Can we ever follow any course besides responding to massacres with massacres? Are the massacres on our territory odd or even? I said the accounting would be difficult. It does seem to be the case, that it will be difficult to refrain from endless carnage and retribution, if we can't even acknowledge that we are engaged in it. If you say: "Why do they hate us?" you are assuredly missing any speck of self-reflection, and missing, I would contend, a major component in enlightenment. So it's at least best not to refer to yourself as enlightened.