February 10, 2003
Seventeen months ago, immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, I wrote the first "Thought of the Week." In that article, I looked at the issue of conflict and conflict resolution. The impending invasion of Iraq by the United States is an example of what can happen when conflicts are not seen as symptoms of a problem to be addressed, but as opportunities to dump unresolved fear and anger on others.
Since society is simply a group of individuals, social problems all arise from problems within the individual. Illnesses of society are the illnesses of individuals, which are often illnesses of emotion. From that standpoint, war is really a primal issue.
Is war ever justifiable? It is true that organisms have defense mechanisms to define and reinstate their boundaries. The warning growl, the protective bite, and the killer cell activity of the immune system are all examples of this. These types of actions are defensive responses to a real attack. In contrast, the US plan is to take aggressive action against an imaginary attack rather than an attack that is acually happening.
Animals rarely attack in order to defend, because attack places the organism in danger of injury. It is interesting to note, however, that the politicians and generals who would initiate a US attack are not placing themselves and their families in immediate danger. Perhaps if they had to lead the battle charge themselves, they would feel different.
Animals do attack in order to hunt and eat - and to establish the territory that allows them to meet their needs for food and sustenance. Animals who are in balance with themselves and their environment, however, only take what they need and no more. They do not waste their valuable life energy attacking to accumulate unnecessary extra food and territory. Why would they bother?
Young animals have tremendous needs that accompany their tremendous rate of growth. If these early developmental needs are not met, the traumatic pain is repressed and these needs continue to seek fulfillment in unconscious ways. A child who needed the love of his busy father may now be an adult who gets attention by being a famous politician. A child who needed more of his depressed mother's attention may now be obsessed to accumulate more and more foreign oil reserves for his corporation. A child who was shamed or beaten by his parents may now express the old hurt and anger by becoming a general and ordering mass military destruction.
When people are driven by huge unmet needs, their natural drive to attack and establish territory will be distorted and excessive. This is what I see about the activities of the US administration and the corporate powers behind it. They exhibit an insatiable need to consume and accumulate - and a desperate, almost fearful viciousness toward anyone or anything that stands in their way. This behaviour is very infantile, and is the neurotic character of all kings and empire-building regimes, from Babylon and Rome to the British Empire and the United States of America.
The US war with Iraq, like most wars, is not a natural, healthy act of protection and defense. It is the neurotic, perhaps even psychotic, consumptive aggression of a very deeply wounded animal.
I hope the animal can heal.