jueves, 27 de diciembre de 2007

"War is Over! If You Want It"

From 'Peace on earth and goodwill toward whom?' by Edward M. Gomez

" ... The British writer Aldous Huxley, in his 1936 novel of ideas, Eyeless in Gaza, which features a lot of well-educated, well-dressed people sitting around talking, weighed in, indirectly, on that old bit of fortune-cookie wisdom that holds that, at any given time, a society gets the government it deserves. Huxley turned that thinking around and proposed that governments reflect "the attitudes and values of the peoples they represent. "Nations won't change their national policies unless and until people change their private polcies," he wrote, adding: "Today's national behavior [is] a large-scale projection of today's individual behavior."

"One of the great attractions of patriotism," Huxley observed, is that "it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat...with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous. Sweet and decorous to murder, lie, torture for the sake of the fatherland. Good international policies are projections of individual good intentions and benevolent wishes and must be of the same kind as good inter-personal policies." So, what about demands for peace? "Pacifist propaganda must be aimed at people as well as [at] their governments," he wrote. Consciousness-raising about the importance and value of peace "must start simultaneously at the periphery and the center."

Is peace just a pipe dream for innocents, and is peace-making the time-wasting pursuit of fools? Not necessarily, Huxley - like the current pope - seemed to suggest. That's because, he argued, there are certain "empirical facts," as he called them, about people that just might equip them to make peace a reality. For starters, Huxley noted, sounding papal, "We are all capable of love for other human beings." His second "empirical fact": "We impose limitations on that love." His third: "We can transcend all these limitations - if we choose to." (Fast-forward to Christmas 1969, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono unveiled their "War is Over! If You Want It" billboards in major cities around the world. Their message about collective will having the power to shape reality was the same one.) ..."

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