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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Contemplations - 4 Thoughts About War

Thoughts About War

Old men Howl like Ginsberg, into ears unturned. “Damn, things have gotten worse.”
I’ve been complaining about technology, but would not change things. Some have gotten better, material things, both good and bad. Hospitals and doctors can remove your heart, and put it back, or shoot you up with Botox, and goat cell injections. Thank God for modern dentists. You can talk to a friend ten thousand miles away and see their live image on a computer. I remember my dad telling me how it was to live with kerosene lamps for light at night . . . the smell. “Don’t tell me about ‘the good old days,’ he would say with a serious nod of his head.

These modern times ― modern, a transitive adjective.
“It would be a ridiculous and unwarranted presumption on our part if we imagined that we were more energetic or more intelligent than the men of the past―our material knowledge has increased, but not our intelligence. This means that we are just as bigoted in regard to new ideas, and just as impervious to them, as people were in the darkest days of antiquity. We have become rich in knowledge, but poor in wisdom.”                                                     Carl Jung ― Symbols of Transformation.

I’ve been thinking about war. I guess most of us have this last year. TV news and papers slam us with it every day.

Tricycle Magazine – on line:

“With the nascent multilateral air campaign in Iraq and Syria, war once again dominates the headlines and preempts diplomatic solutions. In the first installment of her new retreat, “A Zen Approach to Conflict,” Zen Buddhist teacher Diane Musho Hamilton puts it succinctly: “One of the most difficult challenges we have as human beings is our tendency to go to war.”

God only knows what’s going on, new weapons . . . drones. The crossbow was considered a weapon of mass destruction in the Middle Ages. Feared and hated because it was capable of eliminating anyone on the battlefield from great distances and allowed any low-born peasant to kill a high-born professional knight with the simple squeeze of a trigger. The elites feared the weapon could shatter the natural order of society. It was considered the most destabilizing weapon in existence, not unlike today’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

I wonder who made crossbows. Always money to be made from selling weapons. Countries around the world spent over $1.7 trillion on weaponry this year – more than the total global investment in energy supply. War creates zero economic benefits . Weapons go obsolete quickly and do not generate returns as they destroy things of great value. Their associated costs add to already bloated government debt levels. That’s $1.7 trillion US dollars less available each year to improve world education, food and fuel availability, the environment and shifting global demographics, all critical issues.

Trillions, an unimaginably astronomical number. Billions: I can get a grasp on that. Six billion people walk this earth, a handy frame of reference. I can get a layman’s feeling for the number. But trillions: number of stars? Grains of sand? Comparisons slip away into time and space.
Money Cropped

This photo shows 2,000,000 dollars confiscated by Mexican police on a drug raid. There are 1,000,000,000,000, dollars in a trillion. Try to imagine a trillion . . . dollars.
There’s always an open market for weapons. Wars are fought and won with weapons, and you hope you’ve got the best. There must have been good crossbows, and shoddy ones as well, bows that shattered under tension. Time changes things, but not the way of things . . . not really.

The greatest expense: Lives lost, civilians killed, women and children . . . collateral damage. If war comes home, you’re better off to wear a uniform and hold a gun, than a civilian on the sidewalk on his way to buy a pack of cigarettes. The cost of bullets, just one round of 50 caliber . . . machine gun bullets. They’re about three bucks a bullet . . . for one bullet! Check me out on this. I’ve done research, but see if you come up with a different number. Watching a war on TV (if you’re lucky, not in person). Gatling guns rip off about two hundred rounds a second. That’s over six-hundred bucks gone in just one quick, Bbbrrrtt! Six hundred bucks a second – just one gun.

Rockets sell for millions. Smart bombs come in at around a hundred forty thousand, each. The money for a fighter plane could build a high school, but education is not a priority. Was it ever a priority? Anywhere? Maybe in ancient Greece, or Egypt, Alexandria . . . . or maybe not. Perhaps in some small area, for a short time, before the barbarians captured them.

Always a few crazy people running nations, big ones and small ones. Vietnam, and North Korea, Africa . . .  in places I can’t spell, the Middle East. Hitler and Stalin. . . . Linage that goes back as far as time, and into distant future. These madmen will always be with us. Chopping heads off now, medieval. Shocking. That’s what it’s supposed to be, was always. Chopping heads has been going on for a long time, we’ve just never seen it on TV before. Just think, without technology you’d never even know it happened. Would it still have happened? Probably. I’ve been reading Swedish history, the 1500’s. They were chopping heads off then, and later, Paris of course. The Japanese were into it, Chinese too I think . . . not sure.

Seems like no one ever offs these crazy guys. Was Caesar crazy . . . ? Can’t remember. One or two attempts on Hitler, poorly executed. The crazy ones are always well protected, with heightened sense of not unfounded paranoia. Probably Caesar wasn’t crazy enough. Assassination is a high risk occupation. Stalin was very good killing those he thought might be a threat. There were a lot of them.
Wars have always happened. I don’t think we’re going to change this. God bless those who try. We’d be in hell without them. We must struggle, try to make things better, or at least try not to make them worse. Buddhists would say they only significant change you can make is in yourself.

Tricycle article continues:
“We must confront violence on an individual level by bringing awareness to how we habitually react to disputes. Then we establish the wherewithal to overcome our urge toward aggressions big and small. Transforming our attitude toward conflict, it turns out, improves both how we relate to our dearest loved ones and how we respond to unsettling international crises.”

Good luck with that. Makes perfect sense, except the world is full of people and just like us, as sane and crazy, every variation you can think of, some beyond imagination. What was it Pogo said? "We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

It’s that old yin & yang game, good and evil in a world of inescapable opposites. The one unable to exist without the other. Nothing really changes, war and peace trade places, only that, and a dynamic system . . . drivers geeks might call them: Communication, Energy, and Information – make the world go ‘round. All things fold into those. And in the mean time, we’re survivors, you and I. Still here.        After all this time.

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