Whether it is an original curse we inherit, a spiritual instruction in our DNA, or perhaps just a learned acquisition made during our formative years, the malediction “thou shalt not have peace” seems to be encrusted in our being until we cease to exist; until the soul finally escapes the body, in either transformative or symbolic state. Or at least, that appears to be the fate of the religious western man. Not that we are exempting eastern religions from the same malady we have in the west.
Christians have been selectively murdering other Christians for almost two millennia and Muslims have emulated such behavior for close to thirteen centuries. Angels, prophets, saints and martyrs have provided sectarian religious fervor, bringing with it doctrinal proclamations—papal edicts, hadiths, biblical interpretations and divine revelations—which have helped institutionalize hate and revenge as virtues; virtues that would get their followers close to, and eventually in communion with, their Creator.
It does seem ironic that this curse, lack of peace, is taking place these days in the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia (Iraq), by those profoundly demonstrating to be uncivilized, be them Shia or Sunni, or factions of either cult. Some of us willingly accept the notion that a million plus years ago Homo erectus surrendered its privileged status on earth to Homo sapiens but at the same time we realize that we aren’t quite ready for the advent of Homo compositus, the next metamorphic stage of man on earth: fit (well prepared), unselfish, calm, peaceful, mature and sedate.
“You break it, you own it (or buy it, or fix it)” is a traditional, long standing retail stores’ assumed rule, predating Thomas Friedman’s vanity or Colin Powell’s political reference to the United States incursion in Iraq. To think of applying that same jargon to Iraq’s current situation because Simpleton Bush 43 and his mentor in criminality, Dick Cheney, took America on a foolish, destructive, criminal mission is a fallacy of major proportions. Yes we broke Iraq, and it would be reasonable and just to hold the US accountable for it; but it would be ridiculous to expect Washington’s baboonery to fix it. Our empire’s great expertise, much like that of the empire it replaced (Britain’s), is one of breaking things or, if alive, sucking its economic marrow . . . but not restoring them, making them whole. And that is, perhaps, a good thing for, so far, we have proven to lack the historical, cultural, humanitarian perspectives necessary to repair or improve the lot of our own people . . . so, how can we be expected to be of positive consequence to other peoples?
And if the US leadership doesn’t get a passing grade in its fix-it role, when it comes to “the vision thing,” as Papa Bush 41 would call the articulation of important policy positions in a coherent manner (something which he often failed to do), the results are embarrassingly loud and clear.
As George W. Bush prepared for an unprovoked, unnecessary and consequential war with Iraq during Fall-Winter of 2002, no one can say that voices of accredited knowledge and reason weren’t there to be heard, coming from sources with diplomatic, academic and journalistic experience ( . . . to the exclusion of the corporate-captive press). Some of us warned of the impending major mistake in breaking the tenuous convivence Saddam Hussein had managed to create, a real coexistence where a religious minority of Sunnis, outnumbered 2 to 1, held governmental power over a Shia population.
For all the political outcry of Saddam Hussein as a sanguinary dictator, perhaps vastly and unjustly overdone by the American press, his government was inclusionary and secular, a true republic that had taken the path of educating its people—men and women alike—and used a system of taxation which allowed a somewhat equitable way of distributing wealth among all Iraqis. Such progressivism likely had its birth in the firm pro-Arab (neither pro-Sunni, nor pro-Shia) stance taken by the Baath Arab Socialist party which ruled the nation since 1968.
Saddam had been successful maintaining a working balance internationally, just as he had domestically . . . that is, until the Americans came. The bull entered the china closet and things were not to be the same . . . Arab unity reverting to old religious quarrels; a broken society ready to welcome back hate and revenge, Sunni and Shia ready to abide by their interpretation of the divinely-inspired jurisprudence.
A call for the US to fix what it feloniously broke entering Iraq in 2003? God forbid!
Let peace be found by peace seekers, not warmongers.
© 2014 Ben Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.