Monday, February 24, 2014

The Circus of Human Failure

You know the old story about the wizard who puts a spell on the well in order to enchant everyone in the village? The people fall to the spell, one at a time, until there is only one guy left and when he realizes that he is the "crazy one," after days of having tried to convince everyone that there is something wrong with the well, he drinks and is congratulated for finally having come to his senses.

I'm always reminded of this story when it comes to the old Sandburg quotation: "Someday, they are going to give a war and no one will come." Will this ever happen? Not if everyone is drinking from the well. (Or not unless the right wizard poisons it.)

Photo by Robert Capa; Spanish American War
So, here's the problem: war is absolutely absurd. It defies reason. It is something that should only happen in nightmares. Yet, we talk about it each day as matter-of-factly as we discuss the wins and losses of our favorite teams. Why?

Because although we teach our kids that war is a bad thing -- something to be avoided -- we don't go the extra step into convincing them, in their deepest hearts, that it is an abomination; a ridiculous, pointless, incomprehensibly stupid circus of human failure.

And it is, right? So why, in the name of all that is logical, would we participate? It is a fact that war could end tomorrow if everyone would sit down in the grass and refuse to fight, and damn the consequences of dissension.

But it won't happen. The only explanation I can give for this is that it won't happen because even though we know how absurd war is, we don't feel it. We don't feel it because we drink from the well: it's just the way things are.

Is there an antidote? If there is, it can only be found by parents. We need to "program" our kids against societal "programming." I believe it can be done, but I believe it won't -- not on a large scale level.

I use "war" for this post, but it could be any of a thousand "accepted" things. I walk through a hundred absurdities a day, committed right there in full view, because the drinkers have taught the drinkers.

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