Nature of the Beast
By Richard Girard
"The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes."
Stanley Kubrick U.S. filmmaker. Quoted in: Guardian (London, 5 June 1963).
"National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right."
Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher. Parerga and Paralipomena, "Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life" (1851).
"What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war. Petrol is more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict."
Simone Weil French philosopher, mystic. "The Power of Words," in Nouveaux Cahiers (April 1 and 15, 1937; reprinted in Selected Essays, edited by Richard Rees, 1962).
It has been a year and a-half since I wrote and published my article " War-A Rock and Roll Epistle ," on December 24, 2010. I used the late Edwin Starr's magnificent R&B song "War" as the centerpiece of an article on the use and misuse of words and phrases by our government and corporate usurpers of our own rights and powers as citizens. This song, together with Marvin Gaye's unsurpassed R&B masterpiece album, What's Going On the following year, still stand the test of time as expressions of protest about what is wrong with the World, and a plaintive demand to do something about it.
When we examine the tunnel vision that affects our civilization, our nation, and ourselves, I am surprised that the human race can walk across the room, let alone that we once walked on the Moon. And as blind as we may be as far as any vision for the future is concerned, our lack of feeling for anyone other than ourselves in the present begs the question of how long has our collective heart been kept alive by machines and shocks to the system, and can we possibly find a new heart in time?
Manufactured sensationalism is everywhere, even under circumstances where none is needed. The recent mass murders at the cineplex in Aurora during the midnight premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" is an excellent example. It is being milked by the media for every once of fear and pity that can be found in that heartbreaking story. It is as if the power elite in this country want us to become so frightened of living life that we will surrender what few rights and liberties that we have left to save us from incidents like Aurora. (Yes, sarcasm reigns.)
It can also lead us to hardening our hearts against our fellow human beings in a vain attempt to avoid getting hurt--either physically or emotionally--by others, or what's going on around us.
Carl Jung once observed that mental illness is the avoidance of necessary pain. Ours is a society that not only demands instant gratification, but the impossible task of achieving our desires without risk or pain.
This has led us to an era where we have lots of acquaintances, but no friends; lots of opinions, but no ideals; ever-multiplying means of protection, but no safety.