FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Beyond the Abyss

by

Nothing more clearly illustrates the absurdity of murder for political ends than this moment of chaos in Iraq and Syria.  Imagine spaceships of an advanced alien civilization hovering over that vast desert area and assessing the state of our human endeavors on the basis of the welter of alliances and rivalries to-ing and fro-ing below, leaving trails of blood and traumatized children. As borders arbitrarily set by colonial powers a century ago dissolve, the strategic hopes of strong nations are undercut by vicious tribal rivalries going back almost a thousand years. The so-called superpowers are paralyzed, helpless giants armed with useless nuclear weapons. Moral pygmies who initiated unnecessary wars based on shameless lies have the unmitigated gall to blame those in office for events the liars themselves set in motion.

Time magazine lays it out as clearly as possible in its June 30 issue; it boggles the mind: the U.S. and Iran support Iraq. Iran, Iraq and Shia militias support Assad. The U.S. and the Gulf States want to contain Iran and prevent it from going nuclear. The Gulf States, the U.S. and Sunni militants want to defeat Assad, but the U.S. and the Gulf States have also sent money and arms to extreme Sunni groups in Syria that intend future harm to the U.S. The Kurds, Iran, the U.S. and Iraq want to defeat ISIS, even as the Kurds have benefited from the chaos created by ISIS. Millions of innocent citizens across the region have been displaced, their children hurt in every way, terrorized and starved, with doctors and teachers and business leaders unable to exercise skills essential to the web of civil society.

All of this bloodletting, confusion, and waste has the potential to get much worse because it is unfolding in the context of a planetary moment when our common future is at stake unless we humans can cooperate on a whole new level to find sustainable forms of food and energy. Yet from the perspective of the spaceship, the trackless desert could also be seen as a resource of staggering possibilities. Solar arrays could transform the harshly abundant rays of the sun into power for desalinization plants, preventing future water conflicts. The same solar energy could manufacture hydrogen to power a vibrant economy—a Muslim renaissance. Imagine if the trillions America spent on its Iraq misadventure had gone instead into building such a system. Halliburton, which took a reported $39.5 billion in war profits from that conflict, could have still made billions and actually have done something positive in that part of the world.

When it becomes this difficult to discern who are the good guys and who are the bad, the whole “us and them” paradigm blurs and fades into smoke. The common interest becomes, fundamentally, what’s good for children: Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Iranian, Israeli, American. Brought up short by the helplessness of being unable to distinguish between alliances and enemies, is this not the moment for us to say enough—how much greater proof do we need that war and murder never work? Instead, there is an all-too-pervasive climate of opinion in the American government-industrial-media complex that more war and murder are the only answer to war and murder.

How to respond to evil and chaos with something other than more evil and chaos is one of the great historical conundrums.  But one part of the answer is the nature of this moment, in the largest perspective of the unfolding of geological time.  More and more of us are defining our primary identity not in terms of nation or tribe or religion, but instead in terms of the whole delicate, gorgeous, threatened planet now seen as the outcome of billions of years of evolutionary development. This is new—an encompassing story that has enormous potential to unite the diversity of humans into a larger community.

Meanwhile a hierarchy of needs still operates, and the primary need of the torn-apart Middle East is security, in the bare-bones form of simple cessation of slaughter. It would make zero sense to approach a young, fiery Kalashnikov-wielding adherent of ISIS and plead that he look up at the stars: “Look at who you really are, a descendent of these trillions of galaxies. It is out of this one unfolding universe that our sacred texts of Islam and Christianity and Judaism arose. We are one species. Shia and Sunnis may have a long history of enmity, but go back far enough and they are one, polarized by abstract illusions of difference that are meaningless in terms of this astronomical creativity out of which you came.”

This felt sense of oneness is the great message that bears in upon us from both our biggest challenges and our biggest opportunities—challenges like ocean acidification, rain forest destruction or nuclear proliferation, opportunities for vast networks of communication and understanding represented by the Internet. Global climate chaos encompasses not just physical weather but spiritual weather as well. Though the horrors of Iraq and Syria represent a sickening step backward from the possibility of reconciliation among the tribes and religions of the world, the context of reconciliation surrounds us and points the way ahead, supporting and guiding our creativity toward a world that works for everyone. Great possibilities are known, but the wrong voices are loudest. Let us listen for the smarter, smaller, softer, kinder ones.

Winslow Myers, author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” writes on global issues for PeaceVoice and serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.

Winslow Myers is author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail