Sometimes war is indeed necessary; just imagine a world where Hitler reigned supreme. Hitler was a true sociopath. In effect, so was Stalin. Neither lost any sleep over what they did to their own brethren, much less other people.
We can start our analysis by taking stock of where we are. Over the last seven years America has:
- Allowed bin Laden to escape and remain free.
- Given al Qa'ida entrance into Iraq that it did not have before.
- Contributed to the instability of Pakistan where the Taliban and al Qa'ida stand ever poised to join the nuclear club.
- Provided new motivation to Islamic terrorists.
- Counted an increasing number of terrorist groups.
- Weakened its ability to fight terror or even defend itself in war short of going nuclear.
- Brought on an unprecedented financial crisis.
- Weakened its taste for fighting terrorism.
- Become a divided society over Iraq with new, but fanciful, definitions of morality and patriotism.
American society is now at least a dual personality if not schizophrenic. As a society, we seem less able to separate fact from fiction simply because our leader cannot, and he insists on imposing his world-view on all the rest of us. That might be OK, except that his world-view is that of a disturbed personality. That he is to some degree now seems certain. Bush's personality type and Bush's public record, his various biographies along with his own words and actions have been studied thoroughly. At least three experts arrived at similar conclusions--that is to the same set of behaviors. Those behaviors are consistent with: sociopathy (assuming nurture played a role in its development), psychopathy (assuming genetic nature played the primary role) and a megalomaniac personality marked by sadism and the traditional father / son rivalry (Oedipal Complex having its origin in poor parenting of Bush as a child.
These features, as disheartening as they are, at least point to actions each of us can take in the here and now.
Justin A Frank suggests we:
- Watch the president.
- Remain alert to symptoms of trouble.
- Do what we can to bring those symptoms to the attention of our elected officials.
Of course, Congress and the Supreme Court among all those in government, have the most power. So, we need to get their attention when events occur in response to a disturbed world-view.
From Philip Zimbardo we can be or become:
- Able to admit our mistakes and learn from them.
- Aware that even smart people can do very dumb things; therefore, we always need to question the wisdom of actions others propose before we take them; we must always guard against habitual responses that may have worked in the past but no longer do; we must apply Critical Thinking --avoid the Automatic Pilot of a habit or hang-up.
- Responsible, for our own actions and those of our group.
- The best we can be.
- Respectful of legitimate authority; resistant to unjust authority.
- Attentive to our independence and individuality as we respect our social group.
- Conscious of reality; wise to relabeling words that sound good as covers for unjust behaviors; slogans; buzz words; propaganda. We must be streetwise to manipulation, in other words.
- Watchful for ramifications of our actions; aware that human history often foretells the future, as our own experience does also.
- Aware that giving up freedom for security means yielding to dictatorship; under dictators there is no such thing as security even within the in-group!
- Watchful for systemic (bad-barrel) situations that can corrupt the morals of otherwise decent people who happen to be susceptible to "Blind Obedience." At the same time we must stay alert to the truly bad apples, otherwise known as Sociopaths.
Along with these, can we not
- Celebrate our differences?
- Make and enjoy new relationships?
- Look for like-minded people to exchange anecdotes with?
- Encourage our children to think for themselves and to develop street smarts to counter the con-artists?
- Remember that practice, practice, practice, and more practice can put all this on autopilot in the recesses of our minds--so that we can get on with enjoying our time on this heavenly earth with its marvelous biosphere and so many brethren?
Ashutosh Varshney makes a critical action point:
- Integration of all sectors of society is an effective way to reduce ethnic conflict. A great deal of the current unrest on earth is driven by ethnic differences arising from bigotry. Familiarity, getting to know one another personally, is the best antidote to bigotry we have so far.
Along the societal line, can we:
- Try less dogmatic procedures known to work.
- Try putting:
- Idealism ahead of short-term gain.
- Diplomacy ahead of guns.
- Civilization first.
Learning to communicate effectively is also vital. We can:
- Explore solutions in Dialogue, the highest form of communication:
- Explore ideas with mutual understanding [and empathy].
- Connect with integrity as each draws the other out to find meaning.
- Voice opinions toward finding mutually-acceptable solutions, or absolute solutions in the case of science or technology.
- Address conflict resolution openly and honestly with integrity.
- Explore ideas with mutual understanding [and empathy].
From still another angle, we can each:
- Balance our External / Internal Loci of Control, [beginning about age three].
- Know ourselves; Authoritarianism; Sociopathology
- Understand the Lucifer Effect.
- Understand Faith & Science differences.
- Recognize & avoid humiliating or alienating conditions.
- Communicate in dialogue.
As a society, it seems imperative that we:
- Keep things in historical perspectives.
- Establish peace through parenting movements.
- Continue research on means for achieving peace in dialogue.
- Reach across boundaries and over barriers in dialogue.
- Integrate societies in all ways.
- Educate our children by enlightened means so that they become enlightened as to what humanity is all about.
As parents, it is imperative that we:
- Select the most suitable partner with which to replenish our species.
- Nurture our children from their birth date onwards to become well-balanced individuals with sufficient external loci of control to assure law abiding behavior while at the same time building internal loci of control such that they can think for themselves toward realizing their own potentials in a world society essentially free of any serious hang-up.
On the political front we can:
- Make ourselves heard.
- Use dialogue in the manner of Socrates.
- Join one or more blogs dealing with politics and what ails the world.
- Maintain a blog of our own.
- Participate in politics on neighborhood level.
- Participate in student exchange programs.
- Learn another language.
- Gather together to arrest known terrorists in our midst.
- Agree on the separation of mythos from logos (Church from State) in governance.
- Devise means to prevent the ascension of extremism. A constitutional amendment is in order here.
- Prevent sociopaths from entering the halls of power.
- Insist on equality for all and an end to humiliation and alienation by others.
- Limit family size to zero-out population growth with a world population comfortably less than the sustainable maximum to allow for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katerina, the Indonesian Tsunami, and worst all in accord with Natural History.
- Above all, band together to give each child an internal locus of control that is in balance with the external one put on by society.
We can provide for unbiased media
Establish and or expand public non-profit media corporations for the explicit purpose of providing balanced reports and opinions on issues of whatever ilk. We use the word bias below to mean slanted views of views that do not illustrate all sides affecting peace in the world, either directly or indirectly. Such an organization would:
- Work hard at complete reporting; work hard to establish and maintain legitimacy for all viewers everywhere on earth. Only then will ideas be heard on their merits. Dig out alternate views of issues, and air them.
- Avoid sensationalism like the plague, for plague it is. This is perhaps the most important thing media can do. Terrorists make their living by scaring people. If they can scare no one, they remian in limbo. After 9/11, bin Laden didn't have to scare us any more; we scared ourselves to death! And the media, along with Pennsylvania Avenue, feasted on that scare. The White House fostered that fear at every opportunity, and still does. Why do you suppose? Why have none of the candidates of either party picked up on this one? Why are we as a nation ignoring these features? Bin Laden must be smiling, for we took the bait, and started down the path that fits his strategy--a war of attrition.
- Distinguish clearly between terrorism and insurgency; only the latter has any legitimacy, especially in Muslim eyes. See and report nuances surrounding events and issues; report in shades of gray or hues, not black or white.
- Present actual events as accurately as possible.
- Report violence like we do death in automobiles; keep terror in the same context.
- Report extreme views--pointing out how and why they are extreme.
- Report and track all information available on public officials. The reason for this is that leopards running for office always roll in the mud first to cover their spots. If their spots are already public, voters at least have the opportunity to assess the risk before putting them in office.
- Would regularly affirm its commitment to upholding the public interest in balanced ways.
- Be protected by a constitutional amendment that gives them access to all three branches of government equal to that given to any private media or news group.
- Such channels must also be protected from special interests and inherent bias. How to do that is a bit of a challenge, given the competitive nature of the business. "The Week" magazine might offer a clue; it gives all sides, even though it too may be biased--pro-American empire for instance. So a news group whose business it is to network all disparate media outlets and summarize all sides of all issues daily in capsule format should have a beneficial influence. Such a reading seems more valuable for checking the pulses of other world societies than the typical means we now employ.
Of course the above is idealistic, but since when is there enough idealism in the world?
Free speech would still be protected. But information flow to Americans would be free, complete, and open to those who want it. Citizens would still have access to both biased and unbiased sources. Of course many would fight a free and unbridled media. But they are just those people who would abuse our right to free speech. If we learn nothing else from Bush II, we should learn that undue secrecy has to be replaced by openness.
Archives of all three branches of government should become accessible to the public no later than one subsequent term or 20 months after an official leaves office, whichever occurs first. One reason for this is to protect the public; another is to enable prosecution for any criminal behavior or for activities counter to an official's oath of office.
This might be viewed as a delayed impeachment except it would be a matter for the court system. As for information that should remain classified, a non-partisan commission comprised of individuals from each branch of government would set the rules for declassification. Individual or "American Interests" shall not be sufficient reason to keep any document classified. Documents that provide evidence of illegal behavior shall under no circumstance be allowed to to remain classified. No one shall be above the law.
Given the fact that historically, war begets war, and that history in this regard repeats itself, we simply must try these new approaches and take action as individuals, groups, or masses where and as we can.
Posted by RoadToPeace on Saturday, November 17, 2007.