Ok, its probably a question that everybody is getting tired of hearing. Its controversial. It invokes many emotions, knee jerk reactions, well thought out reactions, and ultimately, war. While this posting is not about Iraq or Afghanistan, it is about human nature, and the issues that have plagued us since the beginning of time, at least as I see it. It will be long winded, so if you have interest, please bear with me.
Before I get into this, I ask that you please understand that I do not consider myself an authority on anything. I have no training, no schooling, nothing but perception. Therefore, I am probably wrong about a few things. I am happy to consider any opposing response that is thought out and makes sense. If you want to curse me, wish me death, or whatever, then you may as well go find somebody else, because I will probably just discount you as a nobody, in which case, your opinions wouldn't matter anyway.
In the beginning, when humans roamed the earth, lived in caves, and killed each other pretty much at will, we would be considered barbarians. Time went on, we started to group together and find strength in numbers, and progressed. Eventually, we created entire societies that defined us. We created the technology and tools to bring us out of the caves and into communities and entire cities. We developed forms of government to help us to keep our focus on our progression and ultimate goals. We ceased being barbarians...or did we?
It is my contention that we are a civilized species, as long as it is safe and convenient to be so.
This perspective has been realized by me (and others, I am sure) through observation of the condition of the worlds societies. Take the former USSR. I was a teenager during the 80's, when Reagan was the president. It was a common belief that the Russians were a diabolical people who had only our destruction as their goal. They wanted to invade us, rob us of all that we had. They wanted to enslave the ones who survived, and kill the survivors who did not have a purpose in their society. Therefore, me, as well as most American men, would be destroyed. Hollywood helped in portraying the Russians as horrible barbarians. I remember seeing Rocky where he fought the Russian. Countless action flicks that pit the righteous American against the despised Russian, and we would always win. But the battle was hard, and bloody. I was deathly afraid of the Russians. I was also of the mind that the only good Russian was a dead Russian. It didn't take long after the fall of communism in the USSR before it was the Americans who were looking for ways to capitalize on their demise. Turns out, the Russians were just as afraid of us. They thought that the Americans were barbarians who only wanted to spill Russian blood and plunder their country. I was talking with a Russian immigrant a while back, and he told me that Americans still are not thought of very highly when you get out of the cities. He told me that if I were to ever go to Russia, stay in the tourist spots, otherwise, I might end up robbed with my throat cut once they found out that I was an American. I don't know if that is true, but I don't really want to find out either. I signed up for Selective Service on my 18th birthday, fully expecting to be drafted and sent to kill Russians, if we had not been vaporized by then. And I was ready for them too. I despised them. I am sure the feeling was mutual.
In 1991, I lived in Huntsville, TX. To those of you who know about Huntsville, the answer is no, I was not in prison. I did however, have a house that was located near the intersection of Interstate 75 heading south to Houston. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, I remember sitting on my porch watching all of the soldiers driving by in huge convoys on their way to the Houston Ship Channel. All of these strange looking vehicles fascinated me, especially the HMMWV (or Hummers, as we civilians know them better by). They were pretty new at that time, replacing the trusty Army Jeep as a way to move troops and equipment around. Operation Desert Shield was being built, and it was not long after that we were to witness the total devastating effects of our military might. The F-117 Stealth fighters, the B-1 Bombers, smart bombs, laser guided missiles, bunker busters. Yeah, it didn't seem to take much to totally smoke the Iraqi army. Then we stopped, and didn't go all the way to Baghdad. I have always wondered why we did that. It didn't make much sense to me to stop and let them live. Because at the time, the Iraqis were as despised as much as the Russians were 1o years earlier, if not more. At least the Russians all looked like us. Had the same color of skin. You couldn't really tell an American from a Russian if you put them next to each other. But the Iraqis. They were animals. They wore towels on their heads and never shaved. They were always shooting their guns in the air. Didn't they ever think that those bullets had to come down somewhere? I equated that with their lack of intelligence. They prayed to a god who didn't exist. They didn't deserve to be breathing the same air as us civilized Americans. They were just barbarians.
During the 90s, there were a few conflicts here and there. They were far away, and I was not that concerned about them. They were all barbarians anyways. Something going on in Africa, something in some Balkan thing or whatever. It didn't matter to me. We were the Americans, and they would bow to us as the Iraqis did. It would be easy. We were civilized. We were powerful. We were the world super power, and nobody better get in our way. I remember the first Trade Center bombing. It was another one of those Arabs. The USS Cole. Again, an Arab. Those Marine barracks being bombed. Yep, it was again, another Arab. What was their problem? Didn't they realize who they were messing with? Didn't they know that if it was not for us, they would still be living in caves? Who bought all of their oil anyways? What had we ever done with them? And more importantly, why was our spineless president more concerned with a blue dress and a cigar then these annoying ants that were poking at us?
On September 11, 2001, I was heading out the door to work when I stopped in front of the TV to see what the hell was going on at the World Trade Center. It was then that I saw the second plane hit. It was then that I knew this was an act of war. We were being attacked. I immediately thought it was probably Arabs. I was furious. What barbarian had the ill conceived notion that he could attack us? Did they not realize that we now have a president who will slap the snot out of those who annoy us? That we will utterly destroy any who are stupid enough to actually attack us? Why does barbarian always equate to being stupid? It wasn't long after that we ruined their day in Afghanistan. We are still there, and believe me, I have opinions about how that is going too. Well, maybe on another day.
All of this is common knowledge. The perception that Americans have toward others who are considered enemies is not unique. Our enemies feel the same about us. The chain of events is not in dispute. Its common fact that these things happened. What is not commonly understood is why. Why are humans, after being on this planet and progressing for thousands of years, still obsessed with killing each other? From the beginning of history, we have done it. Biblically, the first murder occurred in the first book of the Bible. Today, we sit here in our custom air conditioned trophy houses, or driving our GPS equipped Hummers, and we think of ourselves as civilized, and it is everybody else who is not. It is my contention that we as Americans are no more civilized then the terrorists that beheaded that reporter on video tape. We are no more civilized, and no less civilized either. We just have different techniques. We would never be caught killing in such a bloody way. Nope, not us. We launch a half million dollar missile from 30 miles away and take out the whole block. Why do we do this? Because we have the tools to do this. If we didn't have the missiles and invisible aircraft, we would probably use a butter knife if it was the only thing handy.
I don't believe that we will ever progress out of this uncivilized barbarism which has plagued humanity since the first time we threw a rock at our neighbors head. What I have done is I have realized this, and I have come to terms with it. I have decided that I will not be one to hold my sign of protest and cry out for mercy for our enemies. Instead, I will ask why have we not turned that part of the world into New Texas, and colonized it with American oil workers? I have also decided not to hate our enemies for the way they dress or the way they look. I will hate them for hating me. I will hate them for threatening my way of life and my security and comfort. In nature, the strong survive, and the deer don't taunt the bears. If the Middle East was a bear, and we were the deer, then I wouldn't be supporting messing with them either. It is natural law that we are dealing with here. Unlike the law of man, natural law cannot be broken. It is impossible. The natural law dictates that we humans must always fight and kill. We have not succeeded in breaking that law yet, and I don't see it happening in the future either. I think its time for the bear to stop acting like a deer, and remember that he is a bear, and if he is to survive, he had better start acting like a bear.