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Fred Alan Wolf

The War on Violence: Think about It

Like the "war on drugs," that president Reagan declared two or more decades ago, our president has declared a "war on violence." Like that previous war that continues with no end in sight, this war will continue as well. We can’t stop drugs using the warfare vision, can we stop massive acts of violence in the same vision? Think about it.
I began this essay with the above oxymoronic title to indicate to ourselves how harrowing and irrational such a journey into the depths of hell will be. Violence against violence can serve no one in this case. It won’t stop violence any more than Reagan’s "war on drugs" stopped drug use. Why not? Because the enemy is not just someone "out there" on the other side of the world as we presently believe. The enemy can be found in our own thoughts and fears.
It just may be that bin Laden really did not orchestrate the devastation against our life, liberty, and pursuit of material gains that we believe bring happiness. Don’t get me wrong here, and don’t misunderstand me. Whether bin Laden is a "war criminal" or not I leave in the hands of world jurisprudence. He may be as bad as we think him to be. But there is a deeper issue here.
Think about it before you begin to lash out against any who ask you to pause and think, and then think the "unthinkable" that even now peace is the answer and action based on bringing peace and well-being to all of our neighbors, even if they harbor hatred against us, may be the only weapon we really have.
Many of you have not seen how the other and greater half of us really live in this world. I have seen much of it and I can tell you that we in the "Western" part of the world are living our lives out of balance with the rest of the world. That imbalance of material wealth, that few of us worldwide enjoy, causes more than misery to others; it takes away their will to live and makes them subject to a vision that life in heaven at the side of some god of their fantasy will be much better than this life. And they are most likely correct, no matter what comes to them in the afterlife.
Think about it. Think about how desperate your life would need to become before you would consider such an action as taking your own life and in that action punishing as many people as you can by taking their lives with you. Now imagine that while this thought of suicide is unthinkable to you, that there are, perhaps numbering in the thousands and maybe even higher, people who think this every day of their lives, as their waking day begins and as it ends at night falling to sleep.
These people live everywhere there is a deep poverty of spirit. They live in America, England, France, Israel, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Africa, China, Tibet, and many more countries. So what can we do about it? Can we "route them out" meanwhile leave the environments that bred them intact? How can we help?
I admit I have no quick answer; I feel as helpless as many of you do. Yet, I feel in my heart that we need to change the way we think and feel about what life is really about, I mean your life, and that perhaps this nightmare of disaster has been provided for us to wake us up to a new vision of ourselves and of our neighbors.
Think about this. There is one soul here living through each one of us and what happens to any of us affects all of us. Think about it, those others out there are all you. They are not just your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, cousins and strangers, but you. Think with compassion. Don’t make the mistake of believing that those who commit suicidal acts of violence are crazy, mad, or insane. Do not think of them as "terrorists." Think of them as people. Think of them as you in the lowest despair you can imagine.
Ask those who we have entrusted to govern us to also engage in extending the hand of help to others right now, even in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. We are prepared to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to go to war. Can we find some way to spend half of that, to begin with, to "go to peace." Please think about it—with your hearts and minds not with your guts and muscle.

Best Wishes,

Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.
Have Brains / Will Travel
San Francisco