by Jerry Alatalo
“Every new truth which has ever been propounded has, for a time caused mischief; it has produced discomfort, and often unhappiness; sometimes disturbing social and religious arrangements… And if the truth is very great as well as very new, the harm is serious. Men are made uneasy; they flinch; they cannot bear the sudden light; a general restlessness supervenes; the face of society is disturbed, or perhaps convulsed; old interests and old beliefs have been destroyed before new ones have been created. These symptoms are the precursors of revolution; they have preceded all the great changes which the world has passed.”
– HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE (1821-1862) English historian
Recently, the United States Veterans Administration (VA) has been the focus of much coverage and reporting by the media. Most reports have centered on very long wait times for veterans seeking medical attention and treatment, and the “scandal” revolves around falsification of documents to coverup those long waiting periods and make the public think wait times are not months but averaging just a few weeks.
In a not surprising habitual response from politicians/lawmakers, many have expressed their outrage at the poor treatment of men and women who have risked their lives, suffered harm and injury – then made calls for the firing of the man who holds the top position in the VA: retired Army General Eric Shinseki. Upon hearing about the VA “scandal”, the thought came up that perhaps if America would just stop getting into wars these problems at the VA would disappear.
It seemed that elected representatives of the American people sitting on the committee questioning the head of the VA perhaps missed an opportunity to not just solve the problems associated with veterans’ long wait times, but to consider creating conditions where, after one or two generations, the VA becomes unnecessary. Those created conditions are ones that result in peace on Earth. Imagine if one or more of those committee members had asked the VA head General Shinseki a question like “How can we put our minds together and coöperate in such a way that wars are no longer fought, thereby eliminating any need for a Veterans Administration?” or “What will it take to bring true peace on this Earth?”
For solving the problems of long wait times for veterans is surely a good thing, but doesn’t it seem like this is only treating a symptom of a tragic disease called war itself? Going no further back in history than the Vietnam War, which most people have come to know and understand was a senseless tragedy of gigantic dimensions, there began the tremendous number of veterans in need of treatment from wounds physical, mental and spiritual. Wounds were inflicted on not only American soldiers, but to an even greater extent the Vietnamese people. Both American soldiers and the people of Vietnam exposed to deadly dioxin from Agent Orange suffered physical diseases which will affect their children, their grandchildren and many future generations.
Many people around the world thought that the horrors and senselessness of the Vietnam War, where Buddhist monks poured gasoline upon their bodies, self-immolated by burning themselves to death in protest of the insanity of Vietnam, would affect the human race in ways that resulted in firm, worldwide disagreement/opposition on any further horrific wars. In America universities from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean were forcefully shut down by students demanding an end to the madness of the Vietnam War, acting upon their true sense of how wrong it was – by the millions – in the largest protests for peace in the history of the United States.
Now, wars have “evolved” to where mercenaries become paid and supplied, unmanned drones inflict the harm, and covert means without “boots on the ground” have been used to avoid reactions from the people similar to the Vietnam War protests. Lawmakers grilling the head of the VA fail to mention the men, women, and children who have suffered harm who belong to the so-called “other side”, in another example of narrowly organized viewpoints that do not seriously consider every aspect of the disease: war itself.
Lawmakers do not mention or examine what is the largest harm inflicted on both “sides” of military conflicts. This is the harm that brutally shatters people’s souls and spirits. By not discussing and examining the spiritual nature and most-damaging-to-humans consequence of war, killing, and destruction, those in positions who hold the power to engage in war miss entirely what is at stake when decisions to act militarily become arrived at. Veterans who became inflicted with “Gulf War Syndrome” from the use of depleted uranium weapons and/or harmful vaccinations then may also have to deal with not only those harms but any direct physical injury such as losing limbs or brain injuries from bomb blasts.
Yet the greatest negative consequences of war are of a spiritual nature – the witnessing of, and direct participation in, the murder of fellow human beings in the family of mankind. At its core war is the same as people killing members of their own family. One need only to imagine oneself carrying out the killing of one’s cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, sisters and brothers, and mother and father to understand how veterans of wars come to experience post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Any world leader who fails to acknowledge this ultimately severest and most harmful consequence of war, killing, and destruction is not properly addressing the fullest dimensional aspect of war and peace, and in the process misses the chance to successfully comprehend the reasons for making the greatest effort to end war in this world.
Any debate on issues of war and peace, in any nation or region of the Earth, which excludes the spiritual dimension in its real level experienced by both innocent men, women, and children and soldiers from both “sides”, has not gone nearly far and deep enough given the immense significance of the spiritual aspects of war. Essentially, debate/discussion on war and peace issues – including the VA – which does not include the spiritual dimensions has failed in what is termed a “grave crime of omission”, because ideas and recommendations for reducing or eliminating humans’ infliction of harm upon other humans are absent.
Now, some may consider the focus of this arrangement of words as “Utopian” or in the genre of “rose-colored glasses.” Some will respond with thoughts and words which exhibit a belief that war is a permanent and perennial part of life on this planet; that there is nothing any person or group can do to remove war from this world. Any talk about “world peace” becomes viewed as a ridiculous exercise, an out-of-touch with reality fantasy-based idea, and lowers the advocate’s intellectual level to that of a contestant in Miss America beauty pageants who invariably mentions in the questions segment of the competition that she is for “world peace.”
The point where the sum of energy and spiritual power in the ever-increasing number of men, women, and children calling for an end to war overtakes those who call for continuance of military operations – human beings killing their fellow human beings – is likened to the jury’s (humanity’s) verdict in a now-occurring “War On Trial”, where war is found guilty. Witnesses for the prosecution – the world’s people calling for an end to war, because war is literally a crime against humanity – include the voices of ancestors who have long ago passed on to the world of spirit, as well as those still living on Earth who have experienced the negative consequences of war.
Witnesses for the defense of war and killing include those who’ve never experienced war directly. People like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who lied to start a war on Iraq which resulted in the deaths of over one million men, women, and children – as well as wasting trillions in American taxpayer dollars. It is worthy to note that neither George W. Bush or Dick Cheney – nor Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and other Bush administration officials – have offered helpful suggestions to aid the soldiers who suffered because of their lies.
One has to wonder what makes a warmonger tick. What kind of people take actions which kill over one million mostly innocent people and afterward express no regret? What kind of representatives of the people, when knowing hundreds of thousands of innocent people are going to die, still vote for war?
War has always through history been “on trial”, but the extraordinary difference in today’s (2014) version is that the world’s people are going all the way in the legal process, including asking the most relevant questions of witnesses. These questions have everything to do with precisely identifying the true causes and true effects of war, in an exercise where only totally truthful responses are acceptable.
Humanity is breaking historical restraints which have blocked efforts to apply man’s highest reason as well as man’s highest spiritual wisdom. This worldwide movement of an enlarging number of men and women is an exact replica of each individual’s potential spiritual evolution; each person’s transformation from anger, hate, violence and discord to acknowledgement of the presence of Creator/God/Spirit in all sentient and non-sentient beings. Just as the individual man or woman after such a spiritual transformation finds it impossible to harm other humans, life forms, or any thing, on the largest scale humanity is transforming to global conditions of non-harm – world peace – as well.
In spiritually blinded ways, every discussion about war and peace in the world’s halls of government, the “benefits” and negative costs, obscures any necessary focus and concentration on vision of a possible world without any further need for militaries, weapons, war studies, bombs, and organized murder of fellow innocent human beings.
A world of peace.
One by one, ten by ten, one hundred by one hundred, one thousand by one thousand, one million by one million, then billions of human beings are adjusting their visions and looking away from historical nightmares called wars; setting their eyes on an increasingly peaceful world straight ahead of them. As the inevitable reaching of all people everywhere with the knowledge to simply adjust their eyes toward the new and better, peaceful and just world comes closer and closer, historical war scenarios shall fade into oblivion – forgotten as a child forgets his or her bad nightmares.
(Seon Master Jinje – Dharma Talk – September 15, 2011 – New York Riverside Church)