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  • Martin Schmalzried

Loving war


My last article explored how to put an end to all wars. While I do hint at a solution to minimize conflict in that article, I don't suggest that it's a miracle remedy but rather a progress towards living more peacefully with each other. In the present article, I will start with a more controversial premise: that ultimately, there is no way to remove anything from our reality. It is impossible to suppress anything permanently, like making sure that “evil” no longer exists, or that wars no longer exist. But it may be possible to integrate war into our human societies in such a way as to transmute it and create harmony out of conflict.


Given the underlying assumption behind this article, that you can never remove anything from our reality, the only possibility is to reshuffle what exists in order to achieve harmony. All of the concepts and behaviors that humans created or exhibit can thus be rearranged in such a way as to create harmony where before, there was dissonance. An easy example is the following: putting a beginner violin student alone with his teacher in a rehearsal room, and putting a violin virtuoso on a public stage. If you reverse the position of these two, you will find that it will create a very displeasing experience for the audience, and a deep frustration for the virtuoso, having no one to share his beautiful talent with. Viewing reality through such a lens, there is nothing to really get rid of. Reality looks more like a giant puzzle, and spirituality should serve as the art to putting these puzzle pieces together to form a harmonious whole.


In the case of a violin player, there is not much at stake of course. It’s a no brainer. But dealing with other human behaviors or concepts can prove to be much more difficult. For instance, how do you “harmonize” something as vile and repulsive as rape? And yet, the solutions already exist: via a conscious and willing decision to join a sado-masochist club where a “rapist” and a “victim” can engage in essentially the same practice, but under strict rules and limits, in a safe environment. Ultimately, it is the same as the example of the violin player: rearranging or reshuffling human behavior in such a way as to produce harmony, even if the underlying “act” is virtually the same. You could say that a beginner violin player on a public stage is, in a way, “raping” your ears with very harsh and dissonant sounds. And yet, as a parent, you willingly go and attend your kids’ public violin representations, and let the other kids on the show “rape” your ears. And so it’s all about arranging things and respecting the conscious decision of people, while keeping certain difficult or controversial behaviors and concepts, regardless of how “evil” they may seem.


One of the latest concepts that badly requires harmonizing is war. With the threat of a third world war on our hands, it is more important than ever to see how we can reshuffle things around to keep the underlying concept of war, and yet create harmony instead of dissonance. A first step, would be to get rid of Nation states, which are at the root of most if not all wars. Citizens seldom voluntarily or spontaneously take up arms to invade another country. Only states have the power to declare and wage war. For a deeper analysis of how we can go about this, I would invite you to read my article: Ending all wars. But even if we transition out of Nation states, the fascination with war will not disappear. It is too deeply rooted in the human psyche and culture. So many humans are obsessed over the advancement of armament, of figuring out who is the most “powerful” country on earth, with the strongest military, of simulating the outcome of a conflict between states and strategizing or analyzing geopolitical feuds that it is doubtful that war will simply disappear. On top of that, there are massive economic reasons for war: the weapons industry is a thriving business and rakes in billions each year. And war is the reason why such an industry can thrive. Eisenhower was already talking about the “military-industrial complex” in the 1960s, and after the fall of the USSR, there was a brief period where humanity contemplated the possibility of “world peace”, which would be very bad for some business. Thankfully, the Gulf war took care of that, followed by plenty of other smaller scale conflicts all over the world, including the destabilization the African continent, which could no longer profit from the United States vs. USSR rivalry by maintaining ambiguity over its adherence to one or the other camp, and thus receiving various support from both.


So how could we go about keeping the concept of war, and yet creating harmony out of it? One suggestion, is to convert it into a form of sport, like the Olympic games. We already have shooting contests and air shows, but perhaps this could be extended to war altogether. The weapons industry could thus convert all of its current deadly weapons into non-lethal versions of the same weapon, like replacing metal bullets with rubber ones, or ammunition like those of a paintball gun. The same should be done with essentially all existing armament, whether submarines, to ships, tanks, and airplanes. Instead of dismantling the industry, transform it into an “entertainment” industry.


On top of that, scientists who are specialized in ecosystem restoration, marine life, replanting forests, biodiversity, could join all of those armament industries to convert all of those weapons into tools for helping the environment. For instance, create bullets which explode upon impact, and contain seeds wrapped in fertilizer which would sprout wherever they fall. And so all countries could hold huge big battles in places which badly need to some kind of ecological restoration, with plenty of spectators enjoying the “show” of soldiers waging war, generals devising strategies to outsmart their opponents, etc, and every time a soldier is “shot”, he or she is eliminated and before leaving the battlefield, is responsible for ensuring that the seeds he got shot with are well planted wherever he “feel dead” before leaving the battlefield. The same for bombs from airplanes, or shells of tanks which could be filled with fertilizer and seeds, and would be programmed to explode 30 meters from the ground, showering soldiers on the ground in colored fertilizer and seeds, marking them as “dead”, and at that point, all of them would happily plant the seeds thus showered and leave the battlefield thereafter. Such a “war” event could move from place to place around the globe, with scientists competing on the most efficient way to convert ammunitions and weapons into tools for restoring the environment, while at the same time serving as a way to eliminate humans, planes, ships etc, from the battle. To go even further, a whole industry of creating ecological “props” which would help in restoring the environment could sprout from such an event. For instance, creating bio-degradable “fake” buildings or even compostable tanks, which could be left on the battlefield and would nourish the ecosystem as they naturally biodegrade where they stood as they were “destroyed” during battle.


Humanity could thus keep its fascination and obsession of war, government leaders and generals could keep comparing the size of their d.. guns, compete over who is the most “powerful” country on earth, without the tragedies, loss of human life, destruction of actual useful infrastructure and economies etc. All of those innovations could still be turned into “real” weapons if necessary, much like the “dual use” technology of the mid-20th century, simply because given our current level of consciousness, it is doubtful that such a proposal would convince current war-mongers from around the globe. For instance, the French Concorde, a hypersonic passenger plane, was also designed to be used as a nuclear bomber in the advent of war.


The gaming industry has already leveraged the obsession of humans with war by creating many e-sporting events centred around “war” or conflict, whether in fantasy like environments like League of Legends, or in more realistic war like environments like in World of Tanks. The same could be done in real-life. And as time goes by, perhaps humans will lose their appetite to actually wage a “real” war and settle for the “sports” version of it. International sporting events and competitions have played a key role in bringing humanity together, keeping the concept of competition, but without the drama. Many athletes are a source of inspiration for children, and empowering certain categories of the population which need it: women, people with disabilities, people from third world countries, etc. We all needed a “hero” to look up to at some point during our lives. But whether that hero can also be a murderer in the eyes of someone else, that depends on how you run the “competition”. And war in its current form is quite a ruthless competition to be sure. Imagine a sport where not only would the participants compete over killing each other, but would also kill parts of the spectators and random bystanders as “collateral damage” of their competition… Hopefully, one day, we will be celebrating the best tank driver, sniper or pilot, without generating mourning, grief, bitterness, anger, despair, hopelessness, and other such feelings on the “flip” side.


At that point, maybe we will truly be able to “love” making war, in a peaceful way.

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