The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Violence versus Spirit

Read the story on the third anniversary of Iraq War at Pulse24.

On the third anniversary of the Iraq War, I would like to share some thoughts on how we express our humanity with respect to the war on terror...

There are basically two approaches we could have taken to fight terrorism. The first approach is the one the United States have taken: apply brute force, using a war hammer, against the problem. The gist of this approach is that we spread democracy through the application of military power. It is based on anger, i.e., past hurt. It is based on fear. It is based on left brain thinking (which is essentially non-humanistic). It treats the enemy as non-human, or less than human. It is fundamentally an anti-human approach.

The result, after three years, is that the war on terror has been very costly, both in terms of money and in lives lost. Afghanistan and Iraq remain unstable. US and Canadian forces are expected to stay in those countries for a long, long time. And despite all of this effort, we have every reason to expect more devastating terrorist attacks in the near future.

The total cost of the wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq) is in the hundreds of billions of dollars and many thousands of lives (on both sides). The campaign will take decades to play itself out. It may require subsequent wars against other countries. And we are still not safe.

The second approach is a humanistic one. It treats the enemy as human and in so doing we stay true to our own humanity. It says that, for whatever reason, the supporters of terrorism (who number in the millions) resent the West. They hate us. It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe they have a legitimate gripe. The point is, they resent us. The second approach, then, seeks to remove this hatred. It seeks to allay their fears and give them hope for a better future – but not through violence or the military spread of democracy. It is based on love and respect, not anger and blame. It is based on right brain thinking, on feelings of compassion and understanding.

We can do this by changing our geopolitical policies. We can do this by NOT interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countries (militarily or clandestinely), by providing the economic and technological aid to uplift their people. We can do this by educating their peoples on the ways of democratic freedom, not an easy task, I grant you. We can do this by showing love for all of humankind, not just for a privileged subset. We can do this peacefully, in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi.

The result of this, it should not surprise you, is no different from the first approach. It will also be very costly. It will cost hundreds of billions of dollars (possibly more than we spend on prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq). It will cost lives but not soldiers’ lives (just as in the first approach, we can expect more terrorist attacks). It will take a long time to see a positive outcome, decades for sure.

So, both approaches are costly. Both approaches cost lives. Both approaches will take decades to see a good outcome. Neither approach guarantees our safety in the near term. What’s the difference between the two??

The difference is that one is counter to our humanity and the other is true to what makes us human, being in touch with the “God point,” the “life force,” eros. The difference is that the first approach is based on intellectualizing the world, while the second approach requires a feat of imagination. Left brain versus right brain.

The first approach reflects the spiritual illness that has pervaded our society and our civilization throughout history and especially in recent history. For all the intellectual and technological accomplishments of our times, we are empty at our core. We have lost our connection with the universe; we have lost our state of unity.

Is it not time for us to reclaim our humanity, our connection with the universe?


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