Photo by Noah Eleazar via unsplash.com
The Wisdom of War and Hatred
An excerpt from the book:
"The Lost Art of Wisdom in the Balance of Sacrifice."
When the war in the Ukraine began in 2022, I was horrified by the idea of global instability. Instead of going to the capital and campaigning for a ceasefire I went to the Russian owned liquor store down the street and asked the owner to recommend a good potato vodka. I bought cranberry and orange juice and sat down in front of my computer. I watched heavy metal videos and began trying to emote them to the troops. I looked at photos of Ukrainian and Russian supermodels. I played each country's national anthem and tried to force them into the global consciousness with my thoughts. I drank screwdrivers and vodka cranberries for the troops and took shots for the officers. I am not sure if they ever received those images, tastes, feelings and sounds but I am almost certain some of them did. Eventually fear returned. Thoughts of violence, both sexual and physical. I imagined soldiers cowering in the woods and trying to use the restroom by squatting on the ground. My PTSD was pierced with the sounds of gunfire and mortar shells. I imagined the troops clinging desperately to the women that they had loved, nearly smothering them in their fear. I saw so much in those days that it nearly made me lose myself as well. I felt for the troops. I experienced the horrors of war in my mind and heart. I imagined it well and never celebrated with them again. I didn't deserve to.
I have a meditation that I do on war that is incredibly humbling. I imagine myself in the Holocaust, living in a concentration camp. I imagine being there and still feeling close to God, like he is watching and that everything will be better someday. I catch glimpses of people, a barracks, a shower, a livestock field. It's almost like the book “The Shining” by Stephen King. What happened there left a strong trace and I believe that those in the camps were very close with the universe and the creator. They created so much hope and light in the world with their pain. We never really see that because we can only imagine it. Their desire to live and be free belongs to all of us now. Their aspirations for the future belong to their ancestors, those who helped in Germany, the foreign soldiers who liberated them and their ancestors. When the prisoners in the concentration camps were released, their hope burst forth into the world after being transmuted from suffering for years and years. I truly feel like humanity won when Hitler died, as though we proved ourselves worthy as a civilization. If World War III were ever fought, I think that it would be purely spiritual. Individuals would feel spiritual pain instead of physical pain. They would die spiritual deaths repeatedly. No one would die. They would only be reborn psychologically. They would receive divine insights instead of purple hearts. Their purple hearts would be a deep connection to their own.
I said in my sister work “The Subtle Art of Suffering in the Balance of Love,” that the reward for a war well fought was often epic romance. In returning victorious your love was a fearsome declaration. In returning unsuccessful your love was a bittersweet comfort. In war we understand the nuances and significance of love. We understand the importance of gentleness, intimacy, and close human connection. We understand the bonds we have with our neighbors, our countrymen and in times of crisis even someone unfamiliar from our hometown or region can be a best friend. We understand the importance of our children and other innocents. We measure the cost of a human life and truly understand the worth. The weight of sacrifice seems small with so many around you being destroyed. The trauma minimizes it. The love you have for those close to you makes it less profound. Near the end of the conflict, they reduce all of those that died to numbers, simply for the fact that you can't understand the cost all at once. You can't look at each person and understand who they were, how they were valued, what they could have contributed to society. It's like looking at a photo of the andromeda galaxy and trying to understand what it contains. You look at a list of those who died, and each star is a soldier, a loved one, a friend, a friend of a friend who was touched by fear, pain, or discrimination because of the efforts. Each planet, each comet, each asteroid is like a memory, a point of reference, an object of personal effect that a loved one holds dear. We don't even understand the complexities of war. At the center the black hole of conflict looms large. Forever pulling everyone into its event horizon until the galaxy ceases to exist and everything is gone.
War is an ugly thing to describe so beautifully but that is how conflict looks in the cosmic drama. Everything is so slow moving. Catastrophe very rarely happens. Every star system runs like clockwork. Deep space makes no sound. It is a desperate, unending silence that seems frighteningly peaceful. Andromeda looms large above the battlefield in the Ukraine. A testament to the universal joke of indifference towards the struggles of man. War exists because we are not enlightened enough to understand divine intention or karmic progression. In the Old Testament God only rained down fire and brimstone because our senses weren't heightened enough to really hear him. You could say he was angry with us, frustrated that we would not listen. The truth is that we still don't. We can't decipher the cycles of karma and how our actions influence others and the world around us. We can't yet study intelligent design because spiritually our growth is stunted. When the spiritual poverty of the holocaust exploded with hope the physical world received a huge push. We began to innovate.
We were on the moon in less than two decades. Seven decades later we all had smartphones. The problem is that a spiritual push from the hope of the survivors of the Nazis was a lot slower growing than we thought it was. When we look at antiquity, we see the suffering of the Egyptians building the pyramids. Afterwards we see the grand designs, artwork, and innovation of ancient Rome. When Rome fell there was a great depression of war, poverty, hardship, and disease. However, during the plague between the ruins of Italy, the hope of the renaissance slowly began to emerge. I find hope in all the horrible things that have happened since then. I look at the revolutionary wars, the civil wars, the wars for freedom and independence. The poverty in economics, faith, and morality. I see the holocaust as humanity bursting through the threshold of what we can endure, finally waiting for that little glimpse of hope. The slow-moving inspiration that occurred when the concentration camps were liberated. I know it exists out there somewhere. Beneath the fear of climate change. Somewhere near the instability in the Ukraine, festering in the international consciousness, there is hope. If there can be hope in a concentration camp, there can surely be hope on earth for humanity.
As of now the war in the Ukraine rages on. The masses call for a ceasefire, but the losses are too heavy for the proud Ukrainians to surrender or make concessions. The potato vodka remains on the shelf at the Russian owned liquor store whose owners simply want young Russians and Ukrainians to live safe, fulfilling lives. The beautiful models continue to suffer for peace in the minds of the troubled soldiers, shellshocked and traumatized. The anthems still play throughout the day as the presidents quarrel on the upper levels about peace agreements. Your humble author still writes, still sits in relative peace in his own home at nearly five in the morning, the blinding glow of the monitor and dimness of the surroundings making it impossible to see anything else but contrasting pixels. But, in his mind's eyes he sees the war. He feels the heartache and the fear. He is in the concentration camp. He is in the wilderness watching out for the soldier using the bathroom. His unsteady hand at the keyboard and the fear in his heart satisfies the reader. It keeps the soldiers steady and brings them home. You do this every day. You do this every day.
- March 18th, 2023 -