Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Cowardice of Tyranny

I wrote a book on the subject of living amid a time of medieval darkness, and even I wondered occasionally whether it was an exaggeration to call our age a feudal one. But I've since stopped wondering, and now suspect that I probably understated the case for the 21st century being a revival of the 13th.

Case in point today: this story, which is enough to make any remotely sane person put his fist through a wall, even as his tears fall to the floor. Many of us tune out such news, because it threatens to destroy what remaining trust we may have in the quality and future of our human species. Unfortunately, our mass media also tune out those who remind us that such things happen more often than we might bear to believe. This is sad, because some of those voices can also teach us how to build a world where children are no longer tortured and murdered.

My favorite among these voices is Alice Miller, of whom I have written several times before, both here and in my books. For a simple and brief summary of her extraordinary contribution to the forward progress of the human race, see this article (Word doc download), which I wrote last year.

I teach that violence as a response to conflict or trouble starts small and soon mutates into a malignancy of destruction that can reach to catastrophic proportions. Others have taught this as well: one of the more notable such teachers of our era is the man whose birthday we will be celebrating in America on Sunday and Monday. So, after you read about the horrible story of the death of Nixzmary Brown, it may help to read some of Dr. King's work.

We call ourselves a rational, higher, and even a spiritual race; yet many of us affiliate ourselves with an ideology—Judaism, Christianity, or Islam—that adheres to the false principle that problems can only be solved through violence; that children can only be raised through violence; that people can only be governed with violence. It becomes a lifestyle after a while: backed by a vengeful and hideously violent God, Tony Blair can play the Dad-God, smacking his kids around, and then wage war on a nation that had not attacked his own. The consciousness from which such disparate acts spring is the same: I have a problem, someone is bothering me, so I will hurt them.

It is, of course, the coward's way of living; the coward's narrow, myopic response-pattern to personal or geopolitical misbehavior. Let me submit, then, that if we are going to truly evolve into a peaceful race, we humans had better start looking within ourselves for alternatives to the habit of externalizing our own conflicts and hurting or killing whatever arouses those inner demons. Otherwise, the feudal era of the 21st century will continue in a spiraling vortex of murder, torture, war, and the slow suicide of an entire species.

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