The Mournful Rhythm of Violence First

Photograph Source: RafahKid Kid – CC BY-SA 2.0

Humans have an incredible ability to remove themselves from their everyday local experiences and move into a more distant view, taking in larger concepts. It’s probably one of the traits that sets us apart from the more in the present focused species we share this planet with. A major distressing effect from this ability is the manner in which sometimes taking the hundred mile aerial view distorts and creates toxic beliefs with little grounding in reality. Nothing can replace eyes on the ground to take in what is actually happening. Think Percival Lowell with his telescope coming up with an entire thesis revolving around canals on Mars. From his vantage it looked like intelligent engineering, so to him, there must be life there creating it. Of course it was all an illusion that became obvious when looking at the situation on the ground with local probes.

In the same manner, humans seem to have a hardwired desire to create patterns and construct nice uncomplicated narratives from strands of information. In many cases it seems to be a useful evolutionary shortcut, as in, I was attacked by a lion the other day, maybe I better avoid tigers too. Useful, but definitely an Achillles’ heel when dealing with larger issues of humanity. Leaders seem well aware of this innate desire to frame the world in easy accounts. Most people will not hesitate to simply accept the propaganda from their leaders—look at the behavior post 9-11 in the United States, yet so many now try to deny their lock-step sleepwalking they exhibited at that time. Pathetically Americans seem to think if they question the leader at hand they are somehow free-thinking rebels, but almost every single one of those Biden rebels love Trump or vice-versa. So few can see the peril of following any form of our current leadership. Again, politicians find it very useful to use the neuronal shortcuts we all seem to have to curtail true critical thinking against their corporate owners and the policies that directly benefit them.

It most certainly is uncomfortable to have to question those who seem to have all the power, yet the unquestioning loyalty is what gives them that seeming rock-hard edifice of authority. The fact that so many of us are miserable with the state of the world today is almost never met with a “how can we do better”? Instead it is met with a grinding societal depression and a loose notion that it probably never can truly get better (they cite human nature, simplistic fall of man kind of stuff) despite humankind surviving many years prior to industrial capitalism. Graves are found from the distant past with egalitarian types of burial, people are there with obviously mended bones indicating others cared for them over time—those who tell you human nature is all bad are simply projecting their own toxicity in my opinion because evidence is there to the contrary). But I’m not saying we need a hunter-gatherer level of society to come back (might not have a decision on that account if things continue on this trajectory though). It is simply the fact that a species with the ability to imagine so much, rarely considers alternatives–that just shows how deep the current leadership narratives have taken hold. It may sound trite but it is true– it is so very easy to keep people in the dark if they won’t turn on a damn light. We stand in the dark, punching each other, each landed blow making Lockheed Martin flush with bloody cash.

I urge one to consider the response of most in society to problems in their immediate vicinity. Unless you are one of the tremendously damaged souls who reach for a gun and shoot randomly, the response of most to adversity, whether internal or external, is not to first turn to a type of overt brutality. I’m not negating that our society is entirely too violent on every level, but it is undeniable that most do not turn to physical assault as the first response to a situation. Most know that this generally does nothing but add to the problem already at hand. Yet our local and personal response to violence is turned on end when large nations become involved. Up becomes down, right becomes left. Alice in Wonderland of Warfare. What is unthinkable personally becomes the only solution (per the privileged and removed from consequences political class) in larger arenas.

The means for violence to permeate the local… well it generally is guided by “principles” brought down from above. The populace is primed for the view from a distance so it becomes palatable to bomb large territories or take the possessions of others. The United States did it by proclaiming that the “savages” weren’t utilizing the land appropriately so had no right to it. This is a siren song to those who want to believe they are still good while committing objectively evil acts. The very people who take things from others because “they aren’t using it correctly” will be the same ones who speak in disgust at the laziness of the “other”. All the while they are the thieves—not much can be lazier than just stealing. Of course they don’t see it that way. Can you imagine the oft used Western European reason for global theft? Not using resources properly so losing the rights to it? Yes, your honor, I did do a B&E and took that television but they simply weren’t using that television correctly; they were watching way too much Golden Bachelor so I had to steal it so I could watch Yellowjackets.” I mean I guess if I was the judge I’d probably be okay with that. But I digress. It’s a ludicrous example, but sometimes the basic absurdity of wide scale invasion, theft and murder is no different in theory–just an exponential order of magnitude difference. They want to convince us of complexity that simply isn’t there. It’s all about wanting to believe you are the good guy and accepting shortcuts in thinking that will bring you to that conclusion. Conveniently, I can take whatever I want because I have a constructed philosophy that allows for that.

The leaders distribute a narrative; the citizens on the ground will take it up and enforce the overarching pronouncements. And of course in a Hatfield and McCoy equation, revenge and retribution can carry the day after the first bad act. I can’t imagine having the moral clarity not to be sick with thoughts of revenge should my family be murdered in an area they couldn’t escape from or if I’m being honest, breaking out of a lifelong narrative that others are somehow less than you. It goes against everything taught since birth. The trick is certainly to break that cycle and that’s a formula as yet barely touched. It’s asking a lot of all involved, but the other path has even more misery, should we continue down it.

A way to consider the rot of it all… if you were told that you could stop a murderer that was standing among forty other individuals, and of those individuals about half were children—would you be able to cut the throats of all forty individuals to kill off that one murderer? I mean do it up close and personal, pushing the knife into the throats? Unless you are an incredible psychopath, of course you would not be able to. It’s just a re-framing of the trolley question, I suppose, as in– what if this one act will save others (in this case theoretical others the murderer might go after in the future). As far as trolley car type questions go, I prefer this Irish boy’s answer to a question of that nature.

Actions that are incomprehensible — somehow the human brain can rationalize those if they slide into a big picture view and presumably the pilot dropping the bombs is feeling a sense of accomplishment and a notion that he or she is bringing safety to the people that he or she loves and wants to protect. Stand alone, these are laudable feelings, but are literally being weaponized by current leaders. None of this would be possible without that distorted view the long gaze allows. It’s as if leaders have a cheat code to use on us to make us perform in ways that go against our basic humanity.

I am not saying that there aren’t certain psychopaths who couldn’t and wouldn’t murder directly, obviously, I live in the United States, but the vast majority of violence is not being done by those people, in fact it is far more mundane than that. It is facilitated by those who have green up-ticks to their military industrial complex portfolios when death is afoot. Those people would be perfectly safe to sit next to at dinner, but of course nauseating to be near.

I find it amusing that discussing the United States having blood soaked corporate interests at heart is now seen as a bleeding heart lefty notion, even by liberals…. you know, me making similar points as that well-known hippie Dwight Eisenhower. It’s how far off basic decency this has all become, but it’s been a slow boil and at this point it looks like Americans could be convinced to go to war with a kindergarten class in Iceland.

I believe that the more distant and removed your assumptions about a people are, the more likely it is that you are wrong. Those that give unwavering support for actions they could never do in person—well maybe this is the prompt to reconsider that perhaps you are regurgitating a violence first world paradigm that those in power want you to embrace for their own interests. When they are against a cease fire and most of the world wants one–this is fairly telling what their incentives and motivations are.

You have to ask yourself what is the price for doing the mental gymnastics to be fine with using violence as the acceptable means to deal with a people trapped in an open air prison? And by that price I of course mean to the humanity being slaughtered, but also the price to your own soul, for lack of a better word. These things have a way of growing metastatically. The ways of the IDF were used to train police departments of the United States. If you can’t use empathy for others, consider the consequences that may be visited upon you and yours. And maybe already have been, especially in marginalized communities.

Being a human should afford inherent autonomy, agency and the right to pursue a life of meaning, and that should be the baseline for all. To deny that is to create individuals with nothing left to lose. That’s no way to run a species. It’s not fucking complicated.

Kathleen Wallace writes out of the US Midwest. Her writing is collected on her Substack page.