These days we are frequently told by various media, governmental spokespeople, people with narrow, self-serving agendas, and various extremist factions that we have all manner of enemies in the world today. Usually the people we are told are our enemy may look different from ourselves, speak differently from ourselves, may dress differently from ourselves, and in some significant way act differently from ourselves. We usually have had very little or no contact with “the enemy” ourselves. So, in many cases, unless someone were taking it upon themselves to tell us that a particular group or individual is the enemy, we might never know, right?
When we rely upon someone else to let us know who is our enemy, then before we’ve ever actually spoken with them, had a dinner with them, watched their children at play, or any of the things that we do with our friends or geographically close neighbors, before we’ve done those things, we know that we are supposed to kill them.
At least that is the way it was taught, directly and/or implicitly, to me when I was growing up and the way it works in much of the world today. It’s worked that way in the world for hundreds, thousands, of years. You could almost say it is a tradition.
It is time we started some new ones.
The tradition I would most like to see get started is one of individual responsibility. After all, this is the U.S., the home of individualism, right? Instead of the current system of essentially allowing our government to send U.S. troops wherever, whenever; instead of relying upon the government’s discretion, in part because the information upon which decisions are based is frequently considered classified for reasons of national security: we should demand that all information which might be affecting the decision to go to war be made public. For instance, in the case of the second invasion of Iraq, one thing never released, among many, was a clear video of whatever hit the pentagon on 911. That might seem minor but in the case of the Vietnam war, if the truth had been known from the beginning about the Gulf of Tonkin incident a lot of suffering and loss of life might have been prevented. So sometimes little things mean a lot.
Of course the military mindset is that troops aren’t supposed to know and understand, they’re just supposed to obey. But isn’t asking someone to either kill or be killed asking a lot? Physically, mentally and spiritually. If we believe we have a spirit and that our actions can and do affect the state of our spiritual well-being, doesn’t a rational person want to know the details of why they’re supposed to pick up a gun and shoot someone they don’t even know. After we’ve seen ALL the evidence, if we’re convinced it’s the right action to engage in then the part about following orders comes into effect.
In essence the way it seems to work these days is that we need to accept the evidence, the reasoning for why we should go to war as being too sensitive for us to know. Or, that we are too ill-informed to be able to appropriately understand or make a wise decision based upon the evidence. If we are ill-informed, why is that? Does it really make sense to entrust the well-being, on multiple levels, to an individual or group that doesn’t trust us and/or consider us intelligent enough to understand the reasoning? Wouldn’t doing so be entirely contradictory to the idea of personal responsibility and good citizenship within a democracy?
Why wouldn’t someone want us to see what the evidence behind the reasons are? If the reasons are sound doesn’t the evidence support them? If something has to be hidden…why?
Lastly, shouldn’t it matter to us whether or not all reasonable efforts been made to settle whatever dispute is in question with negotiation first? Let us know about that too, in honest, straightforward terms. Because it does matter. It all affects the spiritual nature, the morality of what we are being asked to do.
If the reasons for a war aren’t what somebody wants us to believe, if every effort to solve the issues through negotiation hasn’t taken place first, if our home, community, family, and person isn’t at risk to begin with, why are we being asked to pick up weapons and kill strangers? If an individual or group wants us to put our lives, the lives of our family and loved ones, and our spiritual well-being on the line for bogus reasons or half-truths; isn’t that individual or group in actuality working against us?
So, who is the enemy?
Speak out! However, it is essential to realize life is a dialogue. Share, listen, learn, adjust, refine.