The Distraction of War

>    When a child is a toddler wanting to do something the adults don’t want him to do, it’s a pretty common behavioral technique to pose a distraction to get the child’s attention off of what he’d rather do.
    This is the historical purpose of war.
    While it is true that individuals can and will have differences that lead to conflict, it’s the conscious organization and management by others of small, unresolved conflicts that has been the foundation for large scale violence and destruction throughout history. The manipulation of the many by the few, for the purpose of distracting the many from pursuit of more life enhancing goals, is how people who crave power obtain and maintain it.
    Allow me to share a personal example of how managing conflict at it’s source preempts the possibility of larger scaled conflict that is  later manipulated by others.
    Last year I went to Santa Fe to visit a friend, Katharine, who lives there. She and I met a few years earlier at a Buddhist lecture in New York City. We felt an instant bond and although living in different cities (I in New Jersey and she in Maryland at the time) we developed a rich friendship based mostly upon telephone communication and 2 or 3 in-person visits. So, when I flew to Santa Fe last year to spend 4 days with her at a resort in Taos, it was new territory for us both. We did well for the first two days, but by the third tensions were rising over our apparent differences and preferences. By the fourth day, we had checked out of the resort and were headed back to Santa Fe, hardly speaking. The drive back was long and silent. When we reached Santa Fe, we went to have lunch at an outdoor cafe where the tension could no longer be contained.
    Both Katharine and I are strong-willed women on lifelong spiritual paths. We each know Who We Are and our direction comes from within. The power of our respective energies fully engaged in mental, verbal and emotional “battle” at that cafe was palpable, and held the potential for much destruction.  Although we were each firmly rooted in our “positions,” we were also acutely aware of the potential for loss…the loss being both the harm we would inflict as well as the end of the friendship.               
    Recognizing the possible outcomes, we each chose to honor the bond between us by allowing the other sufficient space to hold her personal integrity while simultaneously each relinquishing the need to win. 
    Put simply, Love prevailed over Fear.
    Both Katharine and I believe in reincarnation. In since talking about what happened in Santa Fe, we each feel that we had many such encounters in prior lives that ended poorly, with one or both of us harmed. Whether or not you believe in such things, one thing is certain.
     We all establish patterns of behavior personally and collectively that, unless altered, produce the same outcomes over and over.
    Such is the case with aggression born of difference.
    If Katharine and I had not been able to respond to one another as we did, but instead walked away harboring anger or hatred for the other, those feelings, captured within ourselves, would have become a breeding ground for even more anger and hatred.
    When one is holding anger and hatred, it is not possible to be inner-directed. It is only possible to be manipulated by those feelings, and others, who know how to play upon them and fan the flames of destruction.
    War is the natural outgrowth of millions of personal patterns of ineffective conflict resolution enlarged to collective behavior. Those patterns, small and large, are based upon the inability to allow another their rightful place in the world and the mis-perception that so allowing would somehow diminish the allower.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    When we use our personal power and creative energies to pursue and explore our own path rather than depleting ourselves by trying to influence or power over the path of another, we are enhanced not diminished. As importantly, we eliminate the possibility that anyone or anything will have the opportunity to play upon those misdirected feelings and distract us from the true purpose of our lives.
    We are not children, although we may act like them at times. Let us stay focused upon changing our own personal patterns. When we are able to do that, there will be no further need for parental or politically induced distractions.
    No further need for war.

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