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ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL: New Rules for Lifeboat Earth

Publié le 26 juillet, 2011 | Pas de commentaires

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Now here’s something to think about.

The lawyer for the Norwegian shooter who set off bombs in Oslo killing eight followed by a rampage at a kids’ camp in which he gunned down 70 people, has reported today that the gunman « believes that he is in a war and in a war you can do things like that ».

My question is, what are the allies in the War On Terror doing that is any different, except perhaps that theirs is a far more cynical effort in being at its core merely an excuse to continue the balance of power that keeps Western nations on top while continuing to rob and subjugate their « enemies »?

In a war, you can do things like that. And that’s what’s being done – in Chris Hedges’ latest article, he quotes « New Atheist » Sam Harris who claims that a nuclear first-strike against our ideological enemies may be « necessary » – how is that a serious claim from someone who considers himself to be a « humanist »?

The idea that killing your enemy is not only legitimate, it is a right, has taken over the world.  Us, them, everyone believes killing is the only way to « win ».  But this is precisely the attitude that will insure the destruction of the human species – all of us, and much else beside.

The minute you start saying, « they », the war may be a success but the peace will never be.  The victim-mentality that justifies its own survival at the price of killing the enemy, the continuing notion that one side can still be morally superior while resorting to the same (or worse) tactics as the enemy, the claim that the « need » for resources on the part of the powerful outweighs any concern of the helpless, is the credo for assured mutual self-destruction.  The earth itself is rebelling against this warped mentality.

In my NY school during the 1970s, we were made to play this awful game called « Lifeboat ».  Young children were told to imagine they were in a lifeboat with supplies that could only sustain six of them, but there were seven in the lifeboat – someone would have to be thrown to the sharks.  The company typically included a scientist, the captain of the ship from which they’d escaped (one assumed they were men), an actor (also assumed to be male), a pregnant woman, an old woman, a female fashion model, and one of the sailors who was a notorious alcoholic.  The idea was that based on these simple descriptions, lives would be weighed in the balance and one found wanting enough to be chucked out to die. The children were asked to weigh the utility of each, according to their tiny minds, and make a decision to kill someone for the sake of the majority’s survival.

If this weren’t despicable enough, we were encouraged to argue about it, stating our « reasons » and asserting the « logic » behind our choices.  Thus from an extremely early age, the idea that some people were expendable for the « good » of the many was ingrained on our hearts and minds, and of course continually reinforced through the teaching of progressive history by which the capitalist United States and its allies were the « advanced » rulers of civilizations, while the rest were backward and in need of being ruled, or « socialists/communists » who « have no freedom » and need « liberating ».

But what happened when one little girl refused to chuck anyone out of the lifeboat?  What if, she said, I choose someone to be killed, but instead of being rescued they landed on a desert island where there was food and water for say, only three?  Would the killing begin afresh?  Isn’t it always the case that in matters of « survival » the one with the least scruples about murdering the « others » would survive?  Couldn’t they all just make do with less and try to survive all together? This child was inevitably condemned for « not playing by the rules of the game », or « sacrificing everyone for principles which didn’t matter in a life or death situation ».  Her schoolmates actually displayed anger at her, as though her subversive thinking had in some real way endangered them.  The survival of those in the « important » group was not to be threatened; anyone who jeopardizes that is an « enemy ».

This game is played out every single day in the media.  Every day we are told whom it is most expedient and justified for « us » to kill in order to save the « right-thinking » people.  But if we believe this, there is absolutely no difference between us and the Norwegian gunman, who by the way has, of course, been declared, « insane ».  Because killing innocent people for the sake of a personal ideology is crazy, right?

No, I don’t buy it.  He was doing the same thing the allied soldiers are doing in the Muslim world – shooting up innocent civilians and children by the dozens – only in this case he’s not a « real » soldier, authorized to fight the approved enemies.  I am asking you, if he were in Afghanistan, leading a platoon against villagers supposedly concealing « insurgents », would he not be, if not rewarded with honors, at least protected by the forces that sent him there?  Damn right he would; and this is why all of it is leading us all off a cliff.

If there are people, and there are, who wish to kill or commit other crimes for the sake of their hatreds and fantasies of revenge, they should be dealt with by the civilized forces of law and order; but once you have made an ideology out of « the enemy », beware:  YOU are « the enemy » to them, and they will feel the same justification to do unto you likewise.  Until we can see that we are all « us », all in the same lifeboat, we will continue to ignore the real crisis that is immanently upon us – global climate change – and insure that none of us survive it.

Ideology kills when it divides human beings into « us and them »; but the recognition of our sameness, our common cause on this planet, is the only hope we have of seeing another century of human life on earth.  Those who say we have to destroy the village to save it are the same ones who will destroy us all in the end. Corporate billionaires and war-profiteers of all countries depend on our ignorant allegiances to the ideologies that keep them in power – but there is no hope of survival if we continue to play their perverse lifeboat-game.

And those who will inevitably respond to this by saying, « But you can’t reason with those people, the only thing they understand is violence!  I suppose you’d rather let them kill us? » – have once again missed the point entirely.

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