Friday, May 16, 2008

WAR: My Informal Essay.

July 30th 1932...

A letter to Sigmund Freud from Albert Einstein...

"Dear Professor Freud,

Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war?...that small but determined group, active in every nation, composed of individuals who...regard warfare, the manufacture and sale of arms, simply as an occasion to advance their personal interests and enlarge their personal authority. How is it possible for this small clique to bend the will of the majority, who stand to lose and suffer by a state of war to service their ambitions?...because man has within him a lust for hatred and destruction. Is it possible to control man's mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychoses of hate and destructiveness?..."

What exactly is WAR?:

1. armed fighting between groups: an armed conflict between countries or groups that involves killing and destruction. (Encarta ® World English Dictionary)

2. a Just-War Theory: The principle of a just war states that war should only be waged as a last resort and after all nonviolent options have been exhausted. Just-war theory also holds that a war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. no matter how honorable a cause, war waged by individuals or groups other than a society's legitimate authority is not considered just. Just wars can only be fought in self-defense or to redress a wrong. Wars fought with ulterior motives, for example, to redress a wrong but also to gain strategic land, are not just. A just war can be fought only when there can be some realistic expectation of success.
(Encyclopedia of Ethics, Terkel and Duval).

3. Nicholas Timasheff (Sociologist, who studied war): Three essential conditions of war. One; Antagonistic situation in which two or more states confront incompatible objectives. Two; Cultural tradition of war. A nation has fought wars in the past, the leaders of a group see war as an option for dealing with serious disputes. Three: "fuel" that heats the antagonistic situation to a boiling point, so that politicians cross the line from thinking about war to actually waging it. The seven such "fuels"...1) Revenge 2) Power 3) Prestige 4) Unity 5) Position 6) Ethnicity 7) Beliefs
(Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-earth approach, Henslin).

War can be describe in many words but those who have experienced it often avoid attempting to fit it neatly into a well thought out sentence with comma and periods...sometimes there are no words to describe it. its just war. and its personal.

Why do we make war? Why do people volunteer to go to war? Why, as Einstein asks, does the majority bend at the knees for a "small clique"?

Is it human nature to want to control everything you think you are entitled dehumanize persons or a culture because it is not like our own? If it's not in our genes, the way of our world and our thoughts, depends on our environment. Its safe to say, we have a natural instinct to protect. We want to protect each other from what we consider evil, anything that will bring harm to our families, our lovers, our neighbors...does our "natural instinct" push us into war? "Instinct: An innate (unlearned), biological pattern of behavior that is assumed to be universal throughout a species (Psychology 7, Santrock)”. And can something so natural, be taken advantage of...feed with words, promises, lies, the point that the only feasible and natural way to secure protection for ourselves and our families, is through war? Human bodies pill up in the name of freedom...democracy, destroying terrorist, insurgents...defending our way of life. We have a right to defend ourselves...but when is it natural to go against nature and realize our natural instinct is being taken advantage of by "a small clique"...the elite?

The Elite...a relatively small dominant group within a large society, which enjoy a privileged status at the expense of individuals of lower social status. Who have easier access to capital and political power. Who have the power to make the decisions that shape our world and force millions of persons into situations they might not necessarily agree with. Situations, like war, have the ability to transform a human being...a nation.

Do human beings contain a gene for aggression? for hatred? for destruction? Does it take a single man to throw a match to the "fuel" and initiate the most organized form of aggression in existence? If aggression, hatred, and destruction are so deeply rooted in all of us, every human being should unite and carry the flame of war, there should be no questions...our guns should be loaded and our boots hitting the ground in sync. History suggests millions of humans have and will continue to volunteer their life for war. Why? From the hunters and gathers to industrial states, war has been present.

The majority of us were taught to be polite, to treat others how you want to be treated...raised with a sense of peacefulness and the ability to love. However, during war human beings will push these simple life lessons to the side but they are not forgotten. An alter-ego comes to life… hostile behavior comes full force, hatred for persons who harmed your peers, destruction becomes second nature, a lust for success burns within…its now our natural instinct to fight to the death, even if we believe the cause is not just, because if we don’t our lives are on the line.

The environment of war, is not exclusive to just males. Females are not only bearing arms but civilians…women and children are also caught in the crossfire and at times are giving their lives because they believe so strongly in the cause. Why is this such a shock to the masses? With all inherit our sex…we are born with it…the biological characteristics that distinguish males and females. However, our gender characteristics are social not biological. Gender consists of behaviors and attitudes a group considers proper and appropriate for males and females. Gender sorts us…by assumptions made by a group, males and females are destined to have different life experiences. Females are raised to nurture and be submissive…while males are viewed as aggressive and rigid. Anything outside of this mindset is consider taboo. Cultural norms are changing slowly…however, in a time of war, females will take on new roles and push the norms…it doesn’t mean their hearts don’t have the capacity to love and nurture…the predetermined gender roles, are just that…forced fed and out dated…and not satisfying to every female. If biology were the principal factor in female behavior, all the women of world would be sort of the same person…right now our society is realizing some females prefer the traditional gender roles and some prefer the not so traditional gender roles…they want to go to war.

“…Is it possible to control man's mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychoses of hate and destructiveness?…”

No, because man's mind can be so easily manipulated.


Anonymous allie said...

hey kate, if you ever get a chance you should try to read "on killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. i think you would like it.

5/16/2008 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughtful essay. The cycles of war never cease. Perhaps it was covered in a previous post, but why did you join the army at 17?
Cathy B

5/17/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last couple of sentences STILL make me wonder: who in their right mind would WANT to go to war?

8/13/2008 07:46:00 PM  

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