Man is aggressive and violent. Worse, our Quality of Life suffers more by the hand of man than by nature or by our own stupidity. Wars do more to damage the Quality of Life than anything I know. Wars are primarily about power grabbing, greed and intolerance. About hate and lack of compassion.
There is no clean war. No matter who operates the army, armies hardly ever play by the rules. Civilians get hurt, women abused, children and elderly killed. When an army is around, the life of an individual is worth nothing. You can tell from the weapons used that they are meant to maim and hurt rather than kill: Atomic bombs, biological agents like anthrax and viruses, chemical agents like mustard gas, chlorine, napalm, land mines and booby traps, dumdum bullets, shatter grenades, shatter bombs. That is not even mentioning the stuff terrorists use.
But also, the soldiers find themselves degrading. They see enemies in anyone they don't trust. They become sex starved and cruel. They become greedy and loot. When their friends are shot around them, they know no boundaries and shoot back at whatever may seem an enemy. The enemy however is long gone and only civilians are there to take their wrath.
In theory, we are using armies to protect ourselves from other armies and terrorists. While this may be a necessity, it is not without risk and needless suffering. If we use an army to liberate from and oppressor, how do we know that the cure is not worse than the pain? Are we inviting a viscious circle of wars? Can we find alternatives?
One more note: Armies have never been much concerned about protection of either culture or the environment. Ancient buildings are often destroyed. These may be archeological or historical treasures, but they don't care. The destruction done to cultivated land is often so bad that it takes a generation to recover. Revolutions and religious armies/terrorists are even worse as they target ancient religious buildings, palaces and sculptures of their enemies with the intent of destroying them, thus denying their own children their own heritage.
There are 4 main types of war, while most wars are a mixture of these types:
Their purpose was one or more of the following: Land and looting, while their soldiers were paid by loot and rape. In some better instances, they appointed governors and did not destroy the people. But, in most cases, the people they met were destroyed, as were their cultures. Ethnic cleansing is as old as the world.. Some of this was and still is driven by over-population at home with reduced resources through draught or war or both. (e.g. Germany, Japan, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda). But, in others it was just plain greed (e.g. Conquistadors). We can find this attitude in a smaller scale at home too, when poverty drives only petty theft, but greed drives theft and other crimes.
In the past the loot was land or gold. As technology became more sophisticated it became resourses and the power to control them. These resources are typically minerals and oil. That's where we are today.
Fundamentalism exists in any religion. It is at the heart of all religious strife, whether denominational or sectarian. It breeds hatred and intolerance to different views. It promotes Heavenly Rewarded Terrorism. It is all about power and lack of compassion, lack of love. Muslims have gone as far as creating intolerant versions of the Q'uran, with each sect having its own version.
But fundamentalism has more to do with abuse of power than with religion. By calling it religion, the fundamentalists can use ancient obsolete scripts, interpret them in their own way, and call on a Supreme Being to make it a law for people to follow. They prey on the vulnerability of the people and use force where they can't get the masses to follow them. Unfortunately, people who 'share' these religions but who don't live in the countries affected by them seldom do anything to curb them.
Similarly, great disparity in the Quality of Life between countries can be a source of envy of their leaders and cause of war. Again, it is prudent to have compassion and to help those of lesser means to raise their Quality of Life. Distribution of wealth is essential to a better social order with less rebellion.
While religion and race are not necessarily the driving force of wars, they can still help in rebellions. They are used to emphasize 'discrimination' as the 'reason' for the rebellion, thus firing the emotions beyond those of the Quality of Life differences. Smart leaders know how to take advantage of these.
We need compassion and the love for our enemies. Even peace efforts can get thwarded by religious fanatics in our own country. A 15 year young peace activist named Ava Lowery made an animation of photographs on her website. Imagine the ugly hate mail she is getting about her site for a brilliant animation she has called: "WWJD (=What Would Jesus Do?)". She shows pictures of dead, wounded, bloody, and screaming Iraqi children while a child is singing: "Jesus loves me". She wanted to show how Jesus loves Iraqi children also, which is apparently a unacceptqable to some American 'Christians'.
For centuries have we tried to find a way out. Despite the United Nations and the Security Council we still have imperialism and ethnic cleansing, we still have religious, racial, and sectarian wars. Despite our best efforts we still have greed, hatred, power grabbing and destruction. Even in small communities, we perceive discrimination and yearn for separatism. Yet, separatism polarizes and the 'preservation of our cultural heritage' emphasizes the differences rather than what ties us together. Unless we can think globally and drop our fundamentalism in religion, race, and culture, we have no hope in hell to get out of this hell of war.
It seems however, that the war-mongering leaders are often using people who have legitmate gripes. If we could avoid the gripes, we would be able to reduce the chance of the leaders finding support.
Wherever there are great differences in the distribution of wealth and a low Quality of Life, the seeds of rebellion can easily grow. Also, when there are abuses of human rights, people may trade in their lot for another one to fight these abuses. Unfortunately, these often bring about new abuses. Thirdly, whenever there is control by one specific group without regards for others, the demagogues can use this to rally the disadvantaged to their cause. Whenever a minority reaches 10%, there is a critical mass that can be used for rebellion.
So, if we want to avoid war, we must do a better job of distributing our wealth, assuring human rights, and govern in a more democratic way.
We also must do research, to learn where these war-mongers are and what they are griping about. We must expose their false accusations, their pretenses, their falsification of history and religious documents, and above all their unfair treatment of their opponents. In a democratic society we must allow freedom of expression, but not the freedom to express the repression of freedom. e.g. Forbidding the use of some people's own religion or language or restricting the freedoms of minorities of a different social background is essentially repressive. Embedding these restrictions in a religious dogma is a subversive way of gaining authority. Anyone advocating such a society is essentially breaking down his own and as such is committing treason. These people can be dangerous if they are eloquent and able to rally others.
Like in sports, there are laws for fairness - to protect the innoscent. While this is rather difficult if not impossible, these are the laws:
International Humanitarian Law
Amnesty International is calling on all parties that may be involved in military action in Iraq to publicly commit themselves to 10 specific demands aimed at maximizing the protection of civilians and others who would be affected by war.
1. Don't attack civilians
2. Don't use weapons that kill and maim indiscriminately
3. Treat civilian detainees fairly and humanely
4. Treat combatants according to the Geneva Conventions
5. Prioritize the safety and needs of the Iraqi people
6. Refugees and the internally displaced must be protected and helped
7. Perpetrators of crimes under international law must be brought to justice
8. All parties should allow independent investigation of their conduct
9. Human rights monitors should be deployed throughout Iraq as soon is practicable
10. All parties must support the UN's humanitarian and human rights work
Click here for details
or a PDF copy
Let's make a side trip to what happened in New York on 010911.
Follow the events in Iraq at Oxfam
Back to where we left off in QOL, 'Hope, Despair, and Death'
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