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RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War

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OpEdNews: What about Israel?

Hathaway: They consider that Muslim territory, and it's been Muslim ever since the days of Mohammed. To them the formation of Israel was another European invasion of their area. Just because ancestors of the Jews lived there two thousand years ago doesn't give them any claim to that land today. The Romans forced them out back then, not the Arabs. And the Arabs didn't have anything to do with the Holocaust. So why should their land be taken and millions of Arabs forced out? If the Jews needed a homeland, it should have been taken from the Germans. That would've been fair. But making the Arabs pay for the sins of the Germans is a fundamental injustice. And the Arabs are refusing to accept it. There won't be peace until Israel gives up major territory or gives up the idea of a Jewish state.

OpEdNews: What makes you think that wars are a result of the system and not just of human nature?

Hathaway: Again, we're bombarded with propaganda to convince us of that. Conservatives say war is human nature, capitalism is human nature, our current gender roles and family structures are human nature. That same sort of person in previous centuries used that argument to support slavery, the divine right of kings, the subjugation of women. But those things were changed, and we can keep on making changes. I think our drive to change things shows our real human nature: to take control of our fate and improve our situation.

OpEdNews: But if you look at history, it's been one war after another.

Hathaway: That's the history only of our patriarchal civilization The early matriarchal civilization of south-eastern Europe enjoyed centuries of peace. On many of the Pacific islands war was unknown. And the ancient Vedic civilization of India had meditation techniques that preserved the peace. The Transcendental Meditation program is using those today to reduce stress in society. War is not inevitable. Our human genes don't force us to make war on each other.

OpEdNews: But our closest genetic relatives, the chimpanzees, make war. Doesn't that say something about our evolutionary heredity?

Hathaway: It's true that in certain situations chimpanzees do raid neighboring colonies and kill other chimps. Those studies on killer apes got enormous publicity because they implied that war is inevitable, it's hardwired into human nature. Most scientists weren't claiming that, but the mass media kept reinforcing that message.

But further research led to a key discovery: the chimps who invaded their neighbors were suffering from shrinking territory and food sources. They were struggling for survival. Groups with adequate resources didn't raid other colonies. The aggression wasn't a behavioral constant but was caused by the stress they were under. Their genes gave them the capacity for violence, but the stress factor had to be there to trigger it into combat. This new research showed that war is not inevitable but rather a function of the stress a society is under. Our biological nature doesn't force us to war, it just gives us the potential for it. Without stress to provoke it, violence can remain one of the many unexpressed capacities our human evolution has given us.

OpEdNews: Many people say that stress is inevitable in life.

Hathaway: That assumption is deeply entrenched in our society. Many of our social and economic structures are based on conflict. Capitalism's need for continually expanding profits generates stress in all of us. We've been indoctrinated to think this is normal and natural, but it's really pathological. It damages life in ways we can barely perceive because they're so built into us.

We don't have to live this way. We can reduce the stress humanity suffers under. We can create a society that meets human needs and distributes the world's resources more evenly. We can live at peace with one another. But that's going to take basic changes. And I hope RADICAL PEACE points the way to some of those.

Chapters of RADICAL PEACE are posted on OpEdNews and on a page of the publisher's website at http://media.trineday.com/radicalpeace .


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http://www.peacewriter.org

William T. Hathaway's first book, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns the environmental crisis: www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. He was a Fulbright professor (more...)
 

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