By Victoria Foyt
In the blink of an eye, the Marine’s bullet obliterated the young Iraqi Soldier. And somewhere, a good mother grieved for her fallen son. She had somehow known the day he left their small village that she would never see him again. Yet she was powerless to stop the cycle of insanity, which she knew would claim him as its own. All her sleepless nights at his childhood bedside, her prayers, and her hopes for the future and the seed of her grandchildren, gone to fight a war she had no connection to, but for which she had provided the currency.
And other mothers in other villages, and across the world, wept for their slain sons. These women knew the hollow consolation of pride offered for their sacrifices, but like women through the ages they did not rally in anger against the hand that had snatched up their children, instead once more they attended to the pressing needs of their loved ones and silently bowed their heads to pray for safe soul-journey. And through the dark night they recalled the terrible struggle to bring a child into the world, the days of selfless service that followed. They had gladly surrendered to the flow of creation, their very beings instruments of life. How, they wondered, could anyone want to destroy something so beautiful? Yet silence hung from their hearts, too full of grief to protest.
Since history has been recorded the appetite for war has never diminished. The current story: to protect us against a madman who has the potential to destroy all of our lives. On the surface this might appear to be a rational justification for sacrificing a small percentage to the greater good. Even the gentlest of minds can understand that when threatened with extreme force some action must be taken. But, like a child who forgets one day to the next that the traffic must not be crossed alone and so must be watched every minute, we as a species pay no heed to our repetitive history of destruction, and run once more into the fray of battle, for this reason and for that, with no less passion and conviction. But where is the guiding hand that will lovingly snatch us out of harm’s way?
Despite our pleas for peace and the prayers to the God, which we each respectively call upon, a greater power, has never interceded to stem the tide of war. Yet we never cease to beseech this God of many names for protection, once we commit ourselves to destroying the life It gave. Even after our children have been killed we ask this same God to protect their souls, given in service of another’s death. Might we then conclude that God has left war to the province of man?
Evolutionary principles would coldheartedly point to war as an inevitable necessity for establishing superiority among unruly masses at the mercy of a cruel and whimsical environment. Programmed into mankind’s DNA, this need for survival indeed gave birth to each technological advance, which has allowed man, if not superiority over, then the ability to thrive in his habitat. If you were a bookie, you might have given humans very slim odds millions of years ago, yet man has firmly established his beachhead here on planet Earth. Starvation, poverty, illiteracy remain, but by and large, man has reached a heretofore unimaginable level of global ease.
So who is our enemy now, really? Saddam Hussein? His threat is real, you say. All for which we have struggled may be lost, you insist. He must be stopped, we are told. And like lemmings over a cliff, the soldiers march into Iraq to stop him like so many times in the past.
And these fruitless cycles of conquer and destroy will no doubt continue in the future, until we determine that the evolutionary programming under which we are operating must itself evolve.
Some might say, considering the male’s penchant for killing, that it is time for a matriarchal society; a sea change along the lines of gender. This easily targeted but misguided attempt at reprogramming ourselves assumes that men should categorically be outlawed from positions of power, much as Japan constitutionally proscribes against its armed service. If men gave birth, they would never start wars, goes the thinking. Yet, despite biological advancements in the area of reproduction such as cloning and in vitro fertilization, and with social equality in the workplace, we shall never neutralize our biological differences. The brain, scientists have determined, is a sexual organ, after all. Finally goal falls short simply because the proposed rewiring lies not within our bodies, but within our minds. If both genders did not share a common survival instinct, women would long ago have refused to support war, which has robbed them of their families. So there is no guarantee that if women were to rule the world that war would be eradicated.
What then is the common thread between men and women throughout the ages that allows us, unlike any other mammals, to wantonly kill our own kind in the name of survival? What illusionary trick prevents us from seeing that the Kurdish insurgent, the Iraqi militant, the North Korean warmonger, the prime ministers and presidents and the American foot soldier all possess the same inherent humanity and breathe the same air that knows no geopolitical boundaries? Despite cultural and racial differences, don’t we all, in fact, belong to the brotherhood of man? Spawned from the same organism, we are inextricably linked on a cellular level. Is it possible that the basic organism was originally programmed to attack its own parts in order to spread out across the planet and develop resources? Congratulations, the initial colonization phase was long ago accomplished. We have now reached a tipping point at which the continued maintenance of this false sense of separateness will destroy not fashionable democracy but our own habitat and the meager good will between the branches of man.
Man’s mind, like a computer, is set upon seeing another as separate from himself, which allows him to justify the annihilation of his fellow man. This is his right of might, a survival necessity, he believes. And in an effort to protect him from and have power over others, he blindly ravages the earth without heeding the necessity of replenishing the underlying ecological base. Having initially succeeded as a survival principle, this egoistic view has been reinforced over the ages until we unthinkingly accept it as a premise of life. If we follow this pattern through to an imaginary point in the future, however, we can envision not only a complete destruction of our habitat, but also the cannibalization of men; mankind becomes like the proverbial tiger chasing his own tail to his death.
No Master Programmer waits behind the curtain of Oz to magically reformat the mind of man and break this cycle of separateness, destruction and accumulation. Yet it is within our own power to recognize that a phase of our evolution is complete and we must now strive to find a new paradigm of unity consciousness to carry us into the future, lest we continue upon this trajectory, which unchanged guarantees to destroy all real progress. Where shall we find such a model?
Throughout history there have been a few voices to point us in this direction. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Andrei Sakharov exemplified a new prototype for humanity, as do Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel. The hope for man’s future lies within his innate ability to evolve, as he has already evolved, by recognizing the real dangers at hand, himself to himself, and not some polemic based on arbitrary geopolitical boundaries or cultural ideals; to recognize that if one part of the organism of man is ailing, then the entire organism is diseased and will eventually corrupt itself. It is time for man to change our programming.