Blogs by Kalikiano Kalei
2/29/2008 8:08:10 PM
War is merely a broader, collective, and highly organised application of the individual human tendencies towards murder, rape, tortue, brutalise, hate, ad infinitum. Consequently, it appears no more possible to put a total end to war than it is to prevent people from harming each other on a gratuitous whim. Truly, the curse of war will only disappear when the very last, solitary human being disappears from the face of this poor benighted planet. Meanwhile, think of war as simply Mother Nature's version of our 'Annual Darwin Awards', eh! Sad, isn't it? However, just for a moment, let's pretend that the total abolition of 'war' WERE in fact possible...read on.
Seven simple letters: i…m…a…g…i…n…e. Seven simple letters that were perhaps most widely popularized back in 1971, with the release of John Lennon’s hauntingly earnest lyrics, in his song of the same name.
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
A simple song, but profound in its plea to embrace the reality that we are all here together, sharing this small ball of carbon-based planetary matter and that we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of any superficial, geographically associated differences in skin color. Lennon’s song is notable for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that it urges humanity to lay aside its myriad differing and invariably contrasting beliefs in some sort of higher deity (organized religion), some strange and mysterious ‘supreme being’ that has a mystical plan for all life in the Universe (a God or Gods), and instead simply accept things without trying to further complicate the unknowable complexities of life with mumbo-jumbo religious interpretations of unfathomably enigmatic circumstances that are far beyond our primitive abilities to grasp and understand.
John Lennon was a deeply sensitive person who just happened to have had the good fortune to associate with several others with similarly creative talents and spring onto the stage of life, to quickly capture the world’s attention. Most importantly, however, Lennon perceived and acknowledged that it is the human mind that creates ultimate reality (and not the other way ‘round), for imagination is the key to hope, optimism, and life itself. Almost predictably, John Lennon’s life was prematurely ended by an assassin (the most popular theory is that it was Mark David Chapman, although there are a number of conspiracy theories that provide some interesting speculation, otherwise), since Lennon’s philosophy of abject peace was as heretical in its sincere rejection of conventional, institutionalised religious and political dogmas as Jesus Christ’s was to those held by the Jews of his era.
Given the infinitely complex and still largely unknown workings of the human brain—that most marvelous feature of the human body—it is not so much factual reality that matters as our ability to suitably define it in a manner consistent with the two supremely transcendent objective values of both social and personal fulfillment. Granted that the difference between ‘reality’ and ‘imagined reality’ has been endlessly debated by philosophers since the dawn of the Age of Reason, but in terms of willfully applied intelligence and rationally ascribed values to the higher meanings of human life, life at the long and often dark end of the tunnel of experience is only what you imagine it to be. Lennon was absolutely correct in encouraging people to throw off the chains and blindfolds of religious superstitions and beliefs, and simply accept the fact that we’re all here and none of us have even the foggiest factual understanding of exactly why that is (other than the apparent fact that we are the ultimate expression of a lengthy progression of biologically evolving events that have taken millions of years to occur). More importantly (and more sensibly), since we are all here and are equally clueless as to exactly why this is the case, the best thing we can do in view of this grossly limited understanding is to accept and embrace all of humankind as part of the larger brotherhood of humanity without any further qualification.
To invoke the principle of “Occam’s Razor” for a moment, as you all know under the dictum of that philosophical hypothesis, the simplest explanation for any circumstance is usually the correct one. Elaborate religious explanations of why we are here (i.e. some God created us for His Devine Purposes) are far too theologically complicated and intellectually theoretical to be credible, therefore, and the suggestion that we are merely highly evolved bits of universal physical matter that have evolved a sense of reflectiveness is the most straightforward and uncomplicated explanation for our existence. Regrettably, the rich imaginative resources put at our disposal by our brains seem to demand some higher, purer, and more aesthetically gratifying explanation for life, and that’s where the whole process falls down the bottomless rat hole of endless and irresolvably divergent religious speculation.
Human beings, you see, despite all our vaunted beliefs that we are a supremely intelligent race of privileged beings created in the image of (a) God, are actually almost as savagely ignorant and barbarically unaware as were our most remote pre-historic ancestors. The only real difference between those far-removed, formerly tree-dwelling hominid precursor relatives of a few million years ago and us is that our brains have presently evolved far enough to enable us to fathom a few basic concepts (like the more simple laws of physics and how to develop sophisticated tools). Thus all our 21st Century super-weaponry and high-tech science are really only a few simple parlor tricks we have learned along a far longer path towards truly senescent wisdom. Sadly, although a small percentage of us have inherited a sufficiently acute level of reflective intellect, most of us are really abysmally stupid. Sadder yet, it is those of us who are most ignorant that not only think they are somehow brighter than average (or at least COOL), but who tend to have more offspring than those of us who are a bit more…er, shall we say, broadly aware? The result of that is that we end up with very few John Lennons and a hell of a lot of Mark David Chapman Jrs (who strangely all seem to share a love of the NRA and the right to stockpile automatic weapons, among other common tendencies).
All this having been said, perhaps it would be a good idea (remember that basic aphorism that states “Everything you know is wrong”?...well, it’s true) to mull over the fact that life ain’t anywhere as simple as most of would like to believe it is. First of all, there is no such thing as ‘fairness’ in life. “Fairness” is a wholly euphemistic human ideal that has about as much to do with physical reality as President George Dubya Bush has with applied intellect. There is no moral ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, or even any universally absolute morality other than that stemming from awareness that if we don’t all get along with each other, the alternative invariably involves a lot of messy slit throats and butchered bodies (I don’t need to cite any examples of this principle in actual practice, since we see enough of them all around us throughout the world every day—Iraq being only the most presently conspicuous example at the given moment). Since there have never been any divine commandments etched in stone (remember: we’re disregarding religious gobbledegook and other equally superstitious nonsense here) and delivered to humanity by some guy who looks suspiciously like Hollywood actor Charleton Heston, there is no overwhelming ethical mandate to do ANYTHING, other than try not to piss off the next guy since he might be armed with a bigger club than you! That having been said, it’s a lot easier to love people than to hate them, so the practical ethic (and or morality) that emerges is to share the world peacefully and respect the rights of others as you would your own.
Sadly enough, killing off those who disagree with you never solves anything in the long term. It merely soothes your bruised ego for a while and then the feeling (and the moment) has passed and it’s on to the next contentious flashpoint. In fact, religion usually tends to be a principal weapon of choice in this process, since anyone who imagines (see, there’s that word again!) that he has a divine partner backing him in his bloody vendettas feels that this constitutes an indisputable vindication of the highest authority for any personal outrages he might wish to commit.
Even in the good old God-fearing United States of Christian America (USCA) religion is generally (if not openly) considered a formidable weapon of choice. Christians use it against anyone who they perceive do not agree with America’s ongoing economic colonial imperialism, the Jews use it against the Muslims, the Shiites use it again the Sunnis, each uses it on the other, and so forth and so on. No wonder the world is so full of savagery; it seems almost as if everyone’s personal God is perpetually pissed off and directing his adherents to unceasingly go forth and slay (the disbelievers) in his name, etc. And God help you if you don’t believe in any gods, since that makes you an atheist, which is the most terrible thing imaginable (oops, there’s that word again). Imagine that!
No one pauses a second in the midst of slaying and slaughtering in the name of their god of choice to reflect upon the fact that religion within the context of any violent argument (whether between individuals or between tribes, cults, religions, nations, whatever) is merely a pretext to vent these primitive urges we primitive humans have inherited from our formerly ultra-primitive origins (mostly men though, as a polite gesture to all the ladies on the planet) to kill, inflict pain, subjugate, rape, plunder, steal, degrade, ridicule, and/or otherwise terminate with supreme prejudice (and usually with more than a bit of deep-seated pleasure).
This is where the formula ‘Prejudice + religion = organized political killing’ derives from. Hence, reaching back to John Lennon’s beautiful sentiments expressed in the lyrics of his song ‘IMAGINE’, “Try to imagine a world without war, without religion, without a hell, without a heaven, and just a sky above”. Not easy, is it? There’s too much money involved in religion, war, hell, and heaven to simply chuck those things out the window, and for that reason alone, there will never be a change in the sorry status quo that characterises our happy little planet. I am quite mindful of this unhappy fact, but thought I’d restate the obvious here for all of you who still chose to imagine there are gods out there somewhere who actively prompt you to do his and that in their name.
There is, in this context, the curious example of the Zorgblattians. This enclave of True Believers maintain the notion that the Supeme Being is an infinitely tall (and invisible) being made from galactic plasma and who vaguely resembles a colossal Orangutan. Their name for him is Gok the Omniscient (Gok for short). The Zorgblattians worship Gok by cutting off and collecting the ears and noses of those who refuse to accept Gok as their personal savior, which makes it pretty much open season on everyone who is not a Zorgblattian. While a truly intriguing religion with substantial promise for ridding our world of many of the piusly dumb shits that inhabit it, the sad fact is that there are only a handful of Zorgblatians on the entire planet (they live on the far off and perpetually fog-shrouded Isles of Langerhans), hence we haven’t much to fear from any attempts made by them to convert us all to a universal belief in their god, Gok.
Regrettably, due to the fact that most of you out there are really pretty stupid (present company excepted, and believe me when I say I state the foregoing sentiment in the fondest, most benevolently altruistic manner imaginable), you’ll merrily continue to perpetuate this unhappy mess that so often typifies our interactive planetary social madness whilst refusing to accept the fact that life is essentially meaningless until we interpret it in a positively meaningful manner. Not that I actually expect anything else from a bunch of barely civil, tool-using, opposed-thumb, materially consumptive creatures that obliviously humor themselves by regarding their species as the divinely inspired, highest form of life on the third planet from the sun in our solar system. Imagine that!
I suppose I could cut the euphemistic exhortations here and (following the lead of most Supreme Deities) simply threaten to destroy you all if you absolutely will not learn to live peacefully with one other (note: this is an example of an applied literary device known as ‘irony’), but that somehow strikes me as being a bit extreme, don’t you think (besides, given the fact that I don't possess a fleet of nuclear bombers, this limits my options a bit, don't you think?)? There must be a better (and less absolute) way to coerce the majority of human beings into regarding each other with a bit more mutual respect and dignity than that with which the Crips regard the Bloods. In fact, I’m convinced there is…it just hasn’t been thought of yet. There is always that intriguing idea of cauterising the entire surface of the planet down to a level of about 100 feet below the ground level, by widespread application of thermonuclear destructive particle energy; this would enable a subsequent 10 million more years of evolution that might somehow manage to come up with a slightly more gentle and loving ‘highest form of life’ here. Unfortunately, that particular solution would do away entirely with the fabulously attractive profit motive inextricably associated with organized religions and nationally directed warfare, so it isn’t taken very seriously by nations like ours that worship the dollar first, and any gods second.
But these are all rather extreme solutions. More than likely we’ll all have to settle for the time honored solutions that inevitably seem to involve an occasional highly enlightened individual rising up (strangely) amidst all the wanton violence and destruction to suggest that we simply love one another. The only problem with that is that as soon as these periodic icons of hope and peacefulness appear, someone disagrees violently with their beatifically pacifistic aspirations and assassinates them. Obviously assassins (like their terrorist brothers) are incapable of appreciating irony (or much else, other than ending the life of others who disagree with your extremist views).
By the way, I sense in presidential candidate Barack Obama qualities similar to those John Lennon-like in reference (wherein someone dares to suggest an end to religious vendettas, sectarian violence, and imperialist wars of economic opportunity as an actual national policy!). I personally think Obama would make a fine leader of this most obnoxiously democratic super-power left on Earth and it’s well past time that we gave someone who is most emphatically NOT a White Anglo Saxon Christian Male a chance to sort things out both domestically and internationally. My only fear is that for every John Lennon, there are hundreds of Mark David Chapmans out there, and Barack Obama’s life would probably be in dire jeopardy the moment he steps up onto a stage anywhere that offers a clean sniper shot at him. Have you noticed that we all too often deal with supremely enlightened individuals amongst us in this manner? Try to imagine, if you can, a nation in which we finally have a leader who doesn’t have a (Caucasian) angel sitting up there, perched on his shoulder and whispering into his ear in the Oval Office! Nice thought; perhaps I’ll suggest this as the subject of a new Fox TV sitcom.
Try to imagine a nation without vengeful ex-Vietnam War vets violently criticizing those who think peace might be nice for change. Try to imagine a nation that isn’t led by a Presidential cabinet comprised of Big Oil executives. Try to imagine a nation in which writing a beautiful song about imagining peace doesn’t earn you a bullet in the head with a ‘Thank you, but no thanks!’ note attached to it. Try to imagine a nation that isn’t being told to make war against another country by an imaginary god. Go ahead. Try it.
Mahalo for listening, Kalikiano
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