on the imposed enmity
in not too distant past a soldier in the american army in the second world war, private slovac was killed by the firing squad for refusing to fight to discourage the other soldiers from disserting the army. and in the vietnam war, mohammed ali was stripped of his boxing title and imprisoned for not wanting to see the vietcong as his enemy.
the killing of private slovak has had its input in recognition of opposing the war as the existence of something called conscience. but this con (with) science (knowledge) is not ‘i know what you know’-- the common sets of beliefs and notions of life that bands a like-minded people together. rather, the conscience is being with the knowing of what is what.
what the private slovac saw and what mohammed ali spoke up against, is the cognition, not recognition of the state of being free -- being free and declaring so. this awareness of being what one is removes the bonds that the society of the frightened lot of people imposes upon the individual almost as soon as the new born is able to discern the spoken word. there in lies the difference between the function of father and mother in a child’s life. the mother is the nurturer and protector in matter of fact: she breastfeeds the child, keeps it dry and warm, and keeps it safe from harm. nurturing and protecting are the instincts of mother. it is common among all mothers, be they two legged, multi legged or aquatic or serpentine. the man-father as the protector is a learnt trait developed from the notion of ownership. man may father a child, but protects his children in his self interest only. that is why when he thinks that his child is hurting his self interest, he throws his children out, as did the biblical god to adam and eve, or even kills his child in the name of honour -- as the muslim father is taught to do when his daughter is raped. or a head of the state does – as george w. bush does, by encouraging the american fathers to “sacrifice” their children for the “national security” as dreamed up by the president. in this respect, the american father does not behave any different from an arab father of a suicide bomber. had the arab fathers had the same powerful weapons as possessed by the americans, the arabs, too, would tie the bombs to rockets rather than to the bodies of their sons. but it is not the arab woman who wishes her son or daughter killed in the name of a propagated ideological security. motherhood is meant for nourishment of children, for raising them to be wholly grown and flowering. so the punishing or sacrificing is not her traits. the biblical god is created in man’s own superlative image of himself, so he demands “sacrifice” to appease himself.
once man creates a mental picture of his home to be his castle, the rest of the notions of what stays in and what goes out emerge consequently. things and beings that are deemed helpful in retaining and enlarging man’s mental picture are friends. those things and beings that are neither helpful nor harmful in maintaining the self-image, are ignored. but the ones that practically or theoretically stand in opposition to fattening man’s ego are termed enemy. and one thinks of ways and means to destroy one’s such enemies. thus one’s notion of safety is a state of mind in the mental picture populated with obstructive things and beings obliterating one’s path, the way of life.
look at the instances of the small children of the parents who view each other as enemies. having not yet acquired the conditioning of the culture, their elders’ habitual thinking, these children readily accept each other as playmates. they share things and have pleasant time. the pre-schoolers know not what grudges their parents hold towards each other, be they of socio-economic kind or formed of the ideology based senses. but soon they will be entering the world of hatred of their adults in the name of love – love for perpetuating their parents’ self-image extended into the children. this is the misconstrued notion of genetics that, like the biblical original sin, culturally passes on, from parents to children. and it denies any evolutionary event that may affect and cause the evolutionary process of change. the genetic changes are thought to be happening rather painfully slow, like the european or asian notion of classical music. the creators were all in the past. now all one does is to learn to play like the dead masters, and render improvisations of the compositions that are familiar to the audience.
like everything else in life the notions of friendship and love are either inherited or acquired in the process of earning a living. except in isolated cases, before the human brain evolves enough to fully function as an organ of reasoning and understanding, the physical being is already conditioned to fit in a given group in a given location. beyond the limits of social confinement lurks the unknown that the habitual being cannot comprehend. this unknown factor is, in most instances, other persons' or groups’ habitual behaviours that are different from one's own. and, as such, they are by no means any more valid or stupid than those of one's own conditioning. seeing things done in a different way poses a problem for a habitually unobservant mind. and the difference, if somehow seen as an attractive or more effective alternative to one's own social means or manners, is then seen as posing a threat of socio-economic disruption. the single most common example is that of automation replacing manpower. and then, the more effective foreign-made product replacing the locally produced. in each instance, its final impact is registered as the loss of a job that was a means of earning a living in a given social set-up. in as much as the threat was from an outside element affecting the very social set-up, the entire society would fight back, putting aside its ornamental internal differences and proclamations of a united world and the peaceful co-existence of all. this is the ultimate threat that a local person, society, or government experiences when facing a foreign person, product, society, or government. not knowing how to respond to the element of attraction in the unknown, they all rely upon the conditioned reaction: escape or deny, avoid or eliminate. instead of avoiding and fighting the unknown, it is necessary to comprehend it. maybe it does offer something necessary and vital to one's being. if not, knowing it to be useless, we won't waste the valuable resources and lives in fearing it.
the united nations organization is the ultimate proof of the existing distance between two members of the same species, the human beings. that general label, the u.n. in the actuality is only an ideological political identity, as is the flag of the united nations organization, it flies only at that flag post at the u.n.o., and at u.n. sponsored meetings. but the member nations do not really associate themselves with that flag and what it stands for. they come with their own flags and ideals that are rarely similar and mostly outright contradictory. so far, the u.n.o. has remained only a political entity among foreign nations. when the u.n. was formed, the much of the human populace was toiling for a handful of nations. and since they were the founding members of the u.n. they gave themselves they final say, the veto power, to safeguard their superiority, lest a formerly colonized people collectively overturn the power structure. so some half a century later, the now freed slave nations still fear the five permanent members, and refuse to call it a united naions' organization.
a stranger is a person for whom everything is new - geography and landscape, climate and weather, vegetation; inhabitants, their dwellings and dresses; their languages and affairs, and their entire way of life. and for all of these elements of a given place that person is new.
when two strangers meet they greet or retreat, embrace or race, and eventually, assimilate or annihilate each other depending upon their perception of each other in relation with their sense of security. whatever a person's views and commitments, are, in most instances, the results of one's first lessons in producing a conditioned response. these lessons are induced in a child's mind which is yet incapable of discerning true from false. this conditioning makes the child rush for the safety of the known. and the known is that immediate surrounding in which one is born and raised among only beings and things that had offered one safety and one's limited basic needs. thus the persons with whom one spent most of impressionable time of early childhood are one's kinfolks -- the mother, father, siblings, and to successively lesser extents, the neighbours, schoolmates, teachers, coworkers, employers, bureaucratic officials, and the various political and cultural ideologies, in that order. one's bed, bedroom, home, neighbourhood, hometown, district, state, nation, and allied nations are offering the sense of familiarity and security in lesser extents in this order of succession.
thus a foreigner is a person one is not used to seeing. everything is strange about that person -- the looks, sound of voice, language and thought, speech and actions. this strangeness is not necessarily beneficial or harmful. but because one does not know, it is subject to enquiry. in children not yet subjected to the fear, the element of curiosity is naturally active. such children are attracted to foreigners. this curiosity and attraction invoke enquiry. unless one knows the fact of the matter in one's own way of life, one is incapable of knowing that of a stranger's way of life. ignorance leads to fear and ignites defenses and offenses resulting in misery and death.
this is how some who have ventured out from one's own familiar surrounding in order to have more room have projected their habitual thought, speech and actions upon the new, the foreign element -- be it a place and its climate, or a person and his way of life. the reception of the new, the foreign thing or being is equally dependent upon the native person's understanding and ability to act. the united state's official celebration of bicentennial was thus an admission of willing ignorance of the existence of the american indians whom the then foreigner but now native americans annihilated.
a familiar place is home and a familiar face is a friend. even a familiar pain feels more painful to depart from. patients kept in awkward positions then feel awkward to act normal, natural. this finding safety in familiarity becomes an underlying factor in a culture, molding its thoughts and practices. thus, chinese, who do not have romanticized useful relationship between a shepherd and dog, eat dog, unlike europeans who were once sheep raisers; or vegetarian indians would revere cow as a mother for her milk and for her very useful existence - bull is a tractor and their dung is source of methane gas energy and rich fertilizer, and after their death, their skin, horns and bones are transformed into shoes, combs and other things of use. this useful familiarity is so ingrained in a traditional way of thinking that every culture reflects it in its religious and legal taboos. it defines a killing of a familiar being as a crime. thus persons who are warned against killing their fellow countrymen are trained to view the other side as "enemy", an "evil", a "gook", a "chimera", or any such name that would sound as strange as possible, so that their biological similarities are ignored from the soldier's perception enabling him to shoot and kill. culturally and racially, europeans and westerners have felt more comfortable and united when fighting the east whose people are not "white."
since motion is a significant character of life, a way of life is a way of doing things in a given manner in a given area. life encompasses every activity between its conception and termination, including the why of both. the citizens of the u.s.a., like most people of the world, have been conditioned to view their way of life to be the only true way, and to see any different way only in terms of a threat to the survival of their own. hence people are trained to actively participate in the act of destruction. the neo-nazi party and ku klux klan that advocate white supremacy, can be seen as constitutional right of people only in the u.s.a.
the foreigner presents, first of all, the question: what is the object of their fear? what is it in a foreigner that disrupts their usual way of doing things? is it in the foreign person or thing, or is the sense of fear within oneself? obviously, the ways of war have not spared a single nation from the ultimate self-destruction. the mighty civilizations of antiquity have returned to dust and the lesson of vietnam war has been that the sheer strength does not help. the death and destruction in iraq has begun to haunt even the hardcore soldiers to have nightmares of their active roles in it.
in a time when a journey to the moon is not longer than a travel between two places in some remote parts of earth, it is now of utmost importance that we understand our own ways of life in the light of truth rather than treating things and beings in a habitual way. much more so when our thought, speech and actions are hurting ourselves and others without any reason and without intention to hurt.
the need to know is ever present in an organism that is always inter-related with everything and being around one. one may not be aware of this interdependence until one of the member elements stops functioning or is absent. a broken down thing of use, a falling out of a relation or a death of a known person disrupts one's course of action. similarly, when seeing someone doing things differently causes a disruption in one's practiced way, one begins with a question: why? but the very question is often times produced by the fear of losing the known way of doing things.
seeing oneself from the eyes of another person enables one an impersonal and impartial perception, especially when the viewer's intention is not to blame or praise, but is simply to encourage others to see without an interpretation of any kind, social political or religious. the stranger is neither an enemy nor an ally, for both the enmity and alliance develop later when both begin to fear each other. this perception is neither to please nor frighten the viewer. rather, the viewer reviews one’s own words, actions, and reasons without any sense of identity acquired from an activity and thus, after separating the idealized doer from the deed, view the action as it is.
relationship is that two way mirror in which both persons see each one reflected in the other’s eyes; eyes, mind and the rest of the senses of perception. it enables a mother to relate to the infant speechlessly and yet, nothing remains unexpressed or unresponded; two totally stranger toddlers to go to each other and play; two pre-schoolars to sit together on the same bench and in an instant experience an affinity that usually lasts for life.
but such relationships are not the product of fear. Fear is induced into the children in the form of reward and punishment through the comparative mode of education. From then on the classmates are viewing each other with jealousy. Usually the ones who are not encouraged to reason things, tend to sort it out with the physical force. the young men and women going to iraq on a tour of duty are more afraid of losing their source of earning their livelihood in a known way than getting killed by a sniper attack.
an affluent intellectual who did not himself fight for his own cause, wrote: "theirs not to question: why, theirs but to do and die" but really? yes, because it is what they are paid for. getting hurt, maimed and even killed, comes with the job description. there are many hazardous and dangerous jobs. driving on the interstate kills more people in a year than the american soldiers killed in iraq. but it does not stop people from driving. and for the same reason, namely: it is part of their job description. if they do nt drive, they can't earn their living. it is the fear of not earning a living, and the living is to be earned. they have been raised from very early age to learn to earn a living. it is the set up, the tradition, the custom, culture, duty, obligation. they have been graded and sorted out to pick up a job from a very narrowed selection. even the counter culture comes with the job description: "theirs not to question: theirs but to do and die." in this elaborate scheme asking questions is carefully left out from the learning process. for if one does somehow ask: why, one sees that there are the others for whom the workers work in all kinds of hazardous and dangerous situations. these others do the thinking leaving unto you to do whatever told.