By Roy D. Follendore III
Copyright (c) 2003 by RDFollendoreIII
I recently received feedback from an individual who claimed to be a follower of Islam and who expressed his hate for all Americans. Within his message he presented a stereotype for the people of the United States and wished death and destruction on us far in excess of what happened during 911. In the past when I began to write about the need to rethink the causes of 911, I also got messages from patriotic Americans pretty much saying the same thing about our "enemy." Language was different but the sentiment seemed pretty much the same. After thinking about this, I decided to write this essay about Celebrating Death.
In retrospect it seems fitting to have written about this at this particular time because we are seeing that the sentiments about this particular subject do not seem to work both ways. With the execution of Odai and Qusai Hussein, we have learned today that it is justified to publish horrible images of the enemy's leadership who we have killed but it is not OK for them to do the same. Somehow our American leaders appear to actually believe that in doing so they will end the daily killing of American soldiers. It makes you wonder what planet these guys are coming from. But maybe they are from Earth and there are deeper and more instinctual reasons to consider.
July 24, 2003
It is a fall 5 A.M.. The twilight of dawn is turning the shadows of night into day. The patches of early morning fog are in their glory. The last buck in the forest lifts its head from a cold drink from a shallow fast moving stream. It's gallant rack of horns make a soft clack as they graze a low branch. In an instant a shaft of light catches the deer's attention, but it is far too late. A terrifying explosion bursts from the chest of the animal. There is just enough time for the buck to realize that it can not breathe or hold itself up as it splashes backward into the roots of an ancient oak on the banks of the wooded stream. Rivers of blood trace their path to the sea as the last twitches of life shutter the leaves that already have begun to collect. The alert brown eyes that existed a few moments ago blink and then freeze open as they begin the process of glazing over.
The sound of the hunter's boots can be heard has he climbs down from the tree. In an hour the entrails of the buck will be strode over the edge of the brown banks. There will soon be another celebration of victory by man over nature. The beast will be consumed by humanity. There can be no pity for the hunted.
This is an ancient story and one that predates evolution of human intelligence. We had the luxury to become what we are because we have been so much better at creating death for our competitors. Man's talent for death has provided man the opportunities to think about other things. Our ability to advance into this modern technological age has come about as much as a result of shear boredom resulting from our intolerance of natural competition as from our intelligence and our brains have adapted to fill our present niche.
Because of what we are, it is easy to ignore what it is that we came from. Humanity is all powerful. We tame nature through Science by understanding its mechanics. We destroy nature by our nature. At the heart of our minds still exists the primitive racial mind that destroys the competition because it is "our" seed and not others that must succeed. All others are to be consumed or our enemies. The mind of civilization holds itself on the prepuce of returning to the instinctual state of survival.
Our conscience thoughts rebel over the potential of what we could become if we slip. We cling to religion to maintain our position. At first we label the universe that surrounds us in terms of good and bad, and later in terms of good and evil. We like to think that we are now somehow different. We ignore that we remain the stuff that we once were. We are animals, but now we now consume ideas and we prefer others to consume our ideas. We now choose to destroy others who think differently and who avoid our mantra. For they we are willing to go to war to destroy because we are the only "true" good people and for that reason we are allowed to witness and decry the evil in others.
This is what allows us to destroy others of our kind as well as all species that do not serve us directly. The fact that so many "good" people choose to celebrate the death of life is evidence of the "evil" that we say we are tying to defeat. Our human instincts as an ultimate predator are represented in murderous nationalistic and religious pride that has been the hallmark of genocide. It is a common trait in war and one that we have become too familiar with during President Bush's invasion of Iraq. The African people of Somalia were guilty of this when the mob dragged the bodies of Americans through their streets. The Iraqi people proudly presented their American kills in front of the camera just as certainly as we have recently been doing with the deaths of the sons of Saddam. So as repulsive as it appears, this is not just an American experience that I speak of.
The majority of the American people are what the majority of the people in the Middle East would consider good people. Americans struggle to make a living just like everyone else. Americans are prideful but they also are compassionate. They will do good deeds and make sacrifices without asking for reward. I have witnessed these same traits of people in the Middle East. These characteristics are not Christian or Moslem or Jewish traits; they are basic human traits. They are common human values. Good and bad are universal. The qualities that make us who and what we are do not have national boundaries. Moreover, Americans are just as prone to accept far less than the best from our government as are the Iraqi people. You might think on the surface of it that because of this we would have so much in common that we would be able to instantly bond and work together.
What the world is finding is that good human intentions are not enough. Our instincts when we attempt to organize to do good become fundamentally predatory and this is where we must learn to recognize the error we make by refusing to draw a moral line. When any human chooses to destroy others in the name of good, we are involved in a fundamentally evil thing that comes from within the deepest instincts that we have. We are left on the lowest moral ground and we are unable to distinguish between the celebration of our murderous wrath and the celebration of good. The evil is that insanity that man always seems to rediscover.
Within our modern world we all share the problem that death has become an automatic industrialized process. Individually we are not responsible for that which we are allowed to consume. We go to McDonalds and eat a "Big Mac," not a nice gentle cow we have raised named Jenny. We need not feel responsible if we hunt the last deer in the forest because we know that we will not starve. The leather we use was never the living skin of a thinking, feeling creature. Is there any wonder that we give no thoughts to the welfare of other human beings. We have chosen to consume them in economic ways. Individually we may see the gentleness in our neighbor in much the same way as we might enjoy watching a wild buck grazing in the woods. However, just as with our hunter, when we redefine that same neighbor as a potential product we are somehow able to reconcile the nonexistence of mercy.
This is where things get even more scary. Maybe this is what intelligent life is and why we have not discovered evidence of other civilizations on other planets in space. Perhaps intelligent life always consumes itself and everything around it until there is no more. Maybe it isn't enough for Islam to teach Christianity, maybe it is in the collective conscience that they must also force Christians to be Moslems. If so then the same is probably equally true for all religions. It therefore may make absolutely no difference if God exists, as long as man keeps forgetting that social organizations of religions and institutions governments alike are collective instincts without the morality of a redeemable conscience soul. Let's hope this is not true.
In the final analysis, regardless of the way that we choose to intellectually express our collective relationships within our society, only individuals are capable of actually doing good things. Only individuals, not collective groups of individuals, hold the unity of an indivisible rational conscience that can be termed good. Ultimately through the extinction of our species we are all brothers and sisters, both prey and predator alike. The celebration of death may be humanity's only means of unity.
All I can say is at least think about this. Peace!
Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved