- The waging of armed conflict against an enemy
- A legal state created by a declaration of war and ended by official declaration during which the international rules of war apply
So many people have discussed the probable causes of, and possible solutions to, avoiding war, including poets, philosophers and many more learned and intellectual people than myself. But as war has continued raging for thousands of years, I think we all have to admit to ourselves that no one has come up with a solution.
Why? Because war is created by the human mind, not by governments, warlords, despots, or army generals – not even kings. These are just titles that people bestow on themselves, or have others bestow upon them. War is a state of mind, war is a series of connections made in the brain. War is a product of thinking, and it is our thinking, not the actual act that I need to discuss with you here, because it is of the utmost importance.
What is War? War is nothing. War has no meaning. War is not about freedom. War is not about oil, War is not about hate. War is not about nationalism. War is not about ethnic cleansing. These are only words.
When the historians look back at war they try to find meaning, to justify the suffering, but in the end, war is just a distant memory.
War is nothing. There was no meaning in the death of your sons and daughters, there was no heroism, no great deeds done worth remembering, no crimes against humanity worth remembering. It was just war, a word that means only one thing. The organised murder of others for an idea. In discussing this with you, I am not attempting to desecrate the memory of your loved ones, I am merely trying to explore the human mind that creates such violence with you.
I sit here writing this book on land that may have staged bloody battles, where soldiers fought hand to hand, with swords and daggers, rifles and pistols, on horseback, on foot, or in tanks; where men suffered in agony, screaming, gasping to take their last breath, in fear, panic, knowing they would die. This was the end, this was it, a life extinguished before its time. This was their finale. Death. For what? Freedom? A just cause? Righteousness?
And now, years later, on this same spot of land, where men may have fought with each other to the death, stands an apartment block, surrounded by trees, with the sound of birds singing, and the occasional car passing by. War is gone, war is no more, the land has been reclaimed by the earth. The earth does not wish to remember, nor wishes to erect a statue of remembrance for the fallen; nature, and so life, just carries on, without a passing care for your dead family and friends.
Like the hundreds of millions who have been killed before, the earth swallows their memory. It is us, the humans who choose to remember, “so this may never happen again.”
Unfortunately, war is created by the human mind, through an absence of love, empathy and compassion for other living creatures, and the earth (that allows us to exist on this small planet together). This mind is invisible to the naked eye. If only we could see into the mind that creates war.
When a child is born, his parents have no idea he is going to become the next tyrant to take over a country, ruthlessly murder his own people, and then fight with anyone who challenges him. To them, he is a child – nothing more.
What makes this child grow into someone who will kill, or send other people to kill, on his behalf? What twisted thinking has developed, that killing other people even becomes an option? Is it just a lack of love by the parents, as some psychologists might propose? But these are not people like the serial killers, and sadistic child murderers we abhor, these are “normal” people. These are people who also abhor murderers, yet become them. They are people like you and me. They are just a product of their environment, their country; conditioned by their parents, their culture, teachers and the media. They are, in fact, brainwashed, and they in turn, brainwash the people.
- Persuade completely, often through coercion
- Forcible indoctrination into a new set of attitudes and beliefs
There can be no other explanation for it. These are people who do not start out as warmongers. You just have to look back through history, right to the present day, to see that leaders – whether military or political – are not generally insane (afflicted with or characteristic of mental derangement) in the medical sense, (although one could argue that their actions do not seem like that of a sane human being), or they would not have been voted into power, either by the people or the political party, or even by other soldiers.
On the contrary, these are people who probably have a good standard of education, probably have wives and children (nearly all leaders of countries are men), may have strong religious, moral and ethical beliefs, and probably believe they are doing the right thing for the people and the country. These are not criminals or madmen.
Whether the controlling party is democratically elected, or declares themselves “elected” without the mandate of the people, someone has had to elect a leader, and that leader will not be a drooling madman, rocking in the corner. He will be confident and eloquent, able to make people listen to his ideas for glory for the nation. He will convince people he is right, that his views are the only way forward, and people listen to a convincing speaker. In order to declare war on another country the people must believe in their leader and they must be convinced he is in the right, otherwise war is not an option.
Leaders may declare war, but they don’t go to war on their own, otherwise it would be no more than a bar room brawl, or a fight in the school yard between two men, even if it was to the death. People go to war, people like you and me. Normal, well adjusted, conditioned, brainwashed people, who happily give up their lives for “the greater good” of the nation. No one goes to war for the greater good of the planet, that would be somewhat paradoxical, don’t you think?
You cause war. You and you alone are responsible for war.
You may be disgusted by what I have just said. You may be in the army and think you are only doing your job, but you are going to war for one man’s idea. But it is also your idea, how else could one man force you to kill in his name? You sign up, sometimes of your own volition, sometimes because you are forced to, and some may argue that they would have been killed themselves if they did not go to war, but if everyone refused to go to war, would the leader kill all of his own people? Perhaps, but then he would have no one to lead, rendering him powerless, and leading is all about power.
Behind every leader, there is someone complicit in the idea, and that person is you, even if you never pick up a rifle in your life. You agree with him, and you believe him, that is all that is necessary to start a war.
How many of you have fought in wars, lost loved ones in battle, or had family members killed? How many of you have lost great friends? For what? Freedom? Good vs. Evil? Fighting to protect what is right? Fighting for your own interests over another’s?
Because you were convinced that what you were doing was right. You would not have gone to war otherwise, would you?
Are you so afraid of what will happen to you if you do not go to war? The people are the power of the nation, even unarmed. They have the power to stand up as a collective and say: “No! I will not fight”, but you don’t, because the leader has appealed to your nationalistic pride. The pride, which is conditioning, that has been developed over centuries. The pride that makes you say: “I am proud to be british,” and whatever is in the best interests of britain, I will do it. You just tell me where to sign up. We’ll show that other country not to mess with us.
Let’s go back to the child before he became a leader for a moment, shall we? The young man destined to send millions of people to their death… Who was he? Was he normal?
You see, I am not talking about psychopathic lunatics here, I am talking about your leaders, most of whom have been democratically elected.
His parents, or guardians, probably instilled a fine sense of pride in him. He was taken to watch parades, where he happily waved his flag for the nation, he was taught history, and learned what a great country he came from, he was in fact being conditioned without his knowledge into becoming a patriot (one who loves and defends his or her country). He sang the national anthem at sports matches, and screamed in excitement with all the adults when his country scored. He believed his leader, teachers, parents, and media were telling him the truth when they said they had to go to war to protect freedom, and their way of life; or they had to go to war because a neighbouring country had stolen land or assets that were rightfully theirs. Without knowing it, he had been indoctrinated. The flag, which is just a piece of coloured cloth, became his symbol of freedom. The army became the method with which to uphold that freedom, and the child became a man.
There are a million reasons why countries start wars, but they always start with an idea that whatever they are doing it is right. They must also identify an enemy (any hostile group of people) who must be fought and overwhelmed, for no other reason than the leader, and subsequently, the followers, believe they have right on their side. They are not fighting over universal truths like love and compassion – as these exist within each and every one of us, and do not need a bullet to enforce – they are fighting over nothing more than children in the school yard fight over:
“That’s my pen and I want it back,” or “I want your pen, give it to me now, or else!” or “give me your lunch money, I haven’t got any,” or “I hate you, I want to fight you!”
Countries have no more to fight over than children; nothing they are fighting about is as serious as they want you to believe it to be. What is serious, is that the leaders and governments (who are just people too) involve us in school yard fights that kill millions of people. You can forgive children, for their minds are not yet fully developed, but adults have no excuse – except perhaps that they do not know their own minds.
A mind that is filled with love, compassion and empathy, can never send another human being to kill, no matter what the cause; and a mind filled with love, compassion and empathy can never fight, let alone kill another human being, whatever the cause. There is no right and wrong, these are man-made concepts. There is only love, compassion and empathy. If you can find those three things in your mind, you will never start, take part in, or agree with another war. Ever. It really is that simple.
People will always try to convince us they’re right.
“Look, we are the compassionate loving ones in this nation, and that other bad nation wants to destroy us, and take away everything we’ve got so we have no choice but to go to war. We have no quarrel with the people of the country; we are only destroying legitimate military targets,” they say.
So we all think, “Oh, that’s all right, they’re only killing the military (who are not people).”
What do you think the people of the country under attack think of this? Does it not start to stir nationalistic feelings in them too, to see their soldiers, who you remember are someone’s husband, son or brother being killed by a bullet or a bomb? Do you not think their leaders will use this as a way to brainwash their citizens into hating your country? In fact, if I saw my husband cut down in a hail of bullets, it may not need any brainwashing to convince me to pick up a gun and fight.
War creates more war, that is sure. It is a never ending cycle of idea, indoctrination, and ultimately death.
There is never a winner, only losers. And the biggest loser of all is the human emotion, compassion. War slowly erodes love and compassion, and in their absence hate fills the void. Understand your own mind, and see that whatever the justification for war, it can never pass the test of ”is it compassionate and loving?”
I remember a story about the impromptu football match that took place between the british and the germans on christmas day, during the first world war. Well, apparently, it really happened. Both sides put down their weapons and played football on no man’s land, proving that the soldiers didn’t hate each other at all, they had just been indoctrinated by their leaders. For that small window in time, they knew their own minds, and they knew their “enemy” could have been a friend they played football with every saturday; if only he hadn’t been born in different country.
It is a real shame they resumed killing each other the very next day.
We have been at war for so many years now, in some shape or form, that maybe we have forgotten what it is to be human. We boldly stand and tell people that ours is the greatest country on earth. What a boast. Great, is what the earth is. Great, is the diversity of wildlife. Great, is the atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s rays. Great, is the water that runs through the rivers. Great, is being alive.
Given that the chance of becoming human was so small, great, is getting the chance to experience this amazing planet, that is our home.
There is no time to be at war with each other, we live for such a short time, perhaps 80 or 90 years at best. Let us live every day with joy and laughter just at being here, and getting the chance to make a small contribution to an evolving planet that has been here for four billion years.
One chance to do something good, and what do we bring to it in our short life? Violence, death and suffering. The most intelligent species on earth?If nature had known what we would have turned into, maybe we would have been naturally selected out of the evolution process, and remained a single-celled mindless organism. Oh sorry, I forgot, that is what some of us have become.
If all you can do in this life is be kind to someone,
you have done more than was ever expected of you.
You have shown you were truly human,
and that everything the earth went through to get you here, was worth it.
by alan macmillan orr
“The natural mind – waking up”