Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Of Saints and Demons

So recently, a few things brought my attention to the whole drama in the Middle East. Friends on Facebook have been vilifying one country and putting another up on a pedestal because of conflict. Harsh words exchanged and tempers flared. Passionate pleas on all sides. I was also asked to do a National Education Talk for one of my clients.

I know right, me. Doing an NE talk. The irony of it all.

Still, in the preparation for the NE talk, I decided to dig. First that came up, was Russell Peters response to Middle Easterners.

He raised some rather interesting points. Like, things in the Middle East are so messed up, that it often seems like they're fighting each other until someone else comes along to try to get them to play nice. In which case, they not very politely tell the person to fuck off. And then continue beating each other up.

Point, the second. I tried reading into the history of the region. And frankly, that's a whole jumble of grudges and ancient claims. Essentially, what THAT has become, is because you killed my father/brother/uncle/cousin and stole my goat, I'm gonna go whoop your ass and take 4 chickens. Multiply that about 24,391 times, and throw in land and other people sticking their noses in because of oil, and you have the current situation.

I do know a few things though. It is easy to demonize your enemy. And when your life is at stake, whatever is on the "other side" is evil. That's how wars start. Any war. Do you want to say that Hitler was evil? Fact is, that dig a little more, and the trade embargoes, taxes, war tributes imposed by the Allied nations against the ENTIRE Prussian State beggared the country to the point when there was nothing to live for anymore. When pushed into a corner, even a mouse will fight.

Does that mean I condone genocide of the Jews and the killing of 20 million people in the war? Nope. But what I'm saying is when you demonize something, or someone, you take that first step into a long, dark road that ends in the ultimate senselessness called WAR.

Three. when shit hits the fan, there's no more right ad wrong any more. Eventually, everything becomes personal. I had the privilege to speak with an Army Colonel in Cambodia who started fighting in wars from the time he was 10. He fought on the Khmer army against the Vietnamese, and then the Vietnamese against the Khmer Rouge. He was in the civil war as well. When I asked him about his experience, he said with sadness, "The people at the front is like a war machine, you know? Whoever is at the front of you, you kill not because of right, or wrong, but because you need to survive. You fight back because they shot at you. If you kill them, they'll come back tomorrow and kill you... The only time when anybody stops fighting is when everybody is dead. Or too tired to fight, or when there's nothing left to fight for."

Once the first bullet flies, there's no more right, or wrong. The only way to maintain sanity is for your side to maintain the moral high ground to yourself to justify the actions you have to do to survive. The only way to do that, is to demonize the other side. Down that road, is me and him, ours and them, mine and theirs.

Eventually, right and wrong are two sides of the same coin. But everything is arbitrary isn't it? It just depends on which side of the gun you stand on. The sentence "I'm right, and you're wrong" in all its forms has killed more people down the history of Mankind. The only way, to come together, is put that gun down, and hug the person in front of you.

Rumi said, "Out beyond the fields of right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there." Perhaps, if I may propose another point of view. If something promotes coming together, and peace, and openness and love. That's right. Or in the words of Bruce Lee, "under the skies, under the heavens, there is but one family. It just so happens that people are different."

No comments: