As I read this week’s readings for a class I am currently taking, which were all about rational choice, realism, and international war, I was unprepared for the overwhelming feelings of both despair and anger that washed over me.
So, let me rant polly-anna-ish for a moment, although typically I’m not a ‘let’s all just get along’ kind of person. However, just for now, I need to pretend that another way is possible.
As far as I can tell we - the world, the leaders who could make a difference if they only just stepped back and looked at the world a bit differently - are caught in old patterns and assumptions… for instance, the assumption that war is necessary, that war is an option and that empathy or some kind of humane-ness is possible when you’re destroying lives, livelihoods, civilizations, hope.
And where is the disconnect, and why aren’t more people talking about it, between thinking of nuclear weapons as unthinkable, but compartmentalizing land mines into being okay? How could either of them be considered more humane, more okay, than the other? How can a bullet that explodes someone’s head be conceived of as something ‘thinkable’ and ‘okay’ and somehow balanced against nuclear weapons as proof. “Nukes are bad, we’d never do that. This new conventional way to kill people, though… look how cool THIS is.”
Some say ‘well, war is really not okay, but it’s the world we live in,’ or some version of that. But, it turns out that war is, on some level, okay, acceptable, understood, expected. Because if war and all that goes with it – death, maiming, destruction of ancient monuments and new families – were really, truly unacceptable, we would find a way NOT to do it.
People spend thousands of hours, thousands of dollars, all kinds of effort and energy, figuring out how to kill each other better, more efficiently, more cheaply, more… humanely (it makes me cringe to write that). I keep thinking that all that money might be better spent for food, clothing, shelter, or… I don’t know… EDUCATION maybe. And the money spent on the studies about how better to kill people could instead be spent on studies about how to help them stay alive.