Barriers to Peace

(Warning! Graphic video.)

“Doc, save his life.” chuckled an American soldier, standing over the dead and dying bodies of (reportedly) Iraqi militants, “Got a band-aid?” Disgusting. Not a single trace of honor in their behavior, which, incidentally, is a clear violation of the Geneva convention.

Equally repugnant are the related comments posted on the video’s right-wing site Liveleak: “awesome…die terrorist” “i would rather see a bus full… still nice do.” “Go to your Allah, rat bastards.” Senseless, hate-filled vitriol.

What we are seeing here is called dehumanization. In the minds of the soldiers (along with all of Liveleaks ‘brave’ keyboard warriors) the Iraqi’s are no longer human. The young Muslim men, breathing their last breaths, have been categorized as nothing more than enemies whose lives have no value.

This is a necessary trick of the war machine. It’s much easier to kill a fellow human when they aren’t perceived as one. If the soldiers knew those men by name, had seen their lives and known their families, they’d have empathy and sympathy – feelings that can get in the way when you are trying to murder someone.

So here we see, first hand, the barriers to peace – mental divides which enable the perpetuation of violence and conflict. How do we move beyond this into a world of peace? Well, the reality is, we already are!

The more humans come online, the more interconnected we all become. This connection, this awareness of others, can be all it takes to shatter the illusions and misconceptions about foreign people, making it that much harder to convince soldiers to commit mass murder.

Consider the Love and Peace Facebook Campaign. Concerned about heightened tension between their two nations, the people of Israel and Iran have been building bridges and bonds through cyberspace. “We <3 you too!” “We will never bomb your country” “I don’t hate you.” Beautiful stuff!

This is just one example, but it is indicative of the broader theme of global unification. Our species is undergoing a great awakening that, once realized, will usher in a lasting peace the likes of which has yet to be seen.

While we’re waiting for our world to come together and overcome the ignorance, there are a few things we can do to limit the destruction reaped by the war machine. First, let’s strap open source cameras on every soldier, so that we can judge first hand what our armies are doing in our names.

Second, lets have the decisions to go to war be made by people outside of the military industrial complex. We don’t let commercial fisherman decide how much can be harvested from the oceans. We don’t just allow the oil industry to build pipelines wherever they want. So why let the people who profit most from war call all the shots?

Apart from that, we can simply try our hardest to not let the hatred of others keep us from building our own peace.

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