Sunday, August 24, 2008

War Nerds and Peaceniks

note: my other mailing program died, so this is a new way to send it to you. Let me know if your address got on when you no longer want to receive these frequent mailings from the Badi' Blog.

fyi, we are going to Louhelen Baha'i School next week. The artists in this family will be attending a workshop by Don Rogers. I will be sitting idle, so do come and keep me company if you can.

p12 The Peace Nerd

By John Taylor; 2008 Aug 23, 04 Asma, 165 BE

A friend linked me to an American writer, Gary Brecher, who calls himself the "war nerd." Good name. As a student of the principles, maybe I should call myself the "peace nerd." Today, let us try to earn that title.

This "war nerd" guy uses frank, even course, language but is witty and infectiously enthusiastic about his favorite thing, war and the techniques and strategies it involves; his articles are funny, shocking, outspoken. He is exceptionally well informed about the military aspects of the recent conflict in Georgia, and demonstrates this in his article: "South Ossetia, The War of My Dreams," (

He points out that for one thing, Georgians are hardly the saints the Western media is painting them as. They and indeed the whole area are extremely bitter, benighted and brutal. The whole region is a cauldron of hate for one's neighbour. One thing I did not realize was that, according to Brecher, Georgian troops were in the front ranks of Hulugu Khan's rape of Baghdad and committed its worst atrocities several centuries ago. This was one of the darkest hours ever for civilization. This holocaust tore the heart out of Islamic culture permanently; it was a horror, a destructive blackout strategically makes Mao, Hitler and Stalin's atrocities look like minor power outages. Interesting that Christian Georgians were the shock troops there.

I liked the war nerd's article so much that I read through several other of the many high-quality articles on the pro-Russian online publication, "The Exiled." I found one more by him, "Iraq, Iran, IRAM!" ( In this Brecher describes technical innovations mixed with incompetence of the insurgents fighting American soldiers in Iraq. He starts off saying,

"One of the best things about war is that it's a huge IQ booster. The only people who use their brains in peacetime are the suits: salesmen, real-estate agents. The rest of us just slog along for the pay check, get home and get on the computer so we can have a virtual war. But once real war comes to town, every guy turns into MacGyver, thinking up ways to convert harmless civilian items like alarm clocks and remotes into killing devices."

Indeed. Horrible as war is, it calls forth qualities from the average person, such as adaptability and intelligence, that civilian life and day-to-day work tend to stifle. Brecher puts it well: cleverness is not in demand in ordinary, quotidian existence, which is a good supplemental point to the one William James made in his famous 1901 speech and essay "The Moral Equivalent to War." At the start, James pointed out,

"The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade." (

This is true. Even the train-wreck in slow motion we call global warming is not galvanizing us to action. Long term survival issues do not have nearly the attention grabbing effect that even minor conflicts like those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Georgia have.

Yet, the Baha'i principles could easily do that if they were incorporated into our basic education. They could turn everybody, from kings and presidents to those guys who clean out portable latrines into their own MacGyvers building tools of peace and reconciliation.

The Master put the problem very succinctly: war is death and peace is life. Peace is the most urgent survival issue, and has to come before everything else. Comenius points out that that is the very reason for being of politics: the establishment of peace. If you are not after peace, if you are not a peace nerd, do not even get into politics.

And as the Georgian conflict demonstrates, the oldest causus belli of them all, mere squabbling over territory and national borders, is not outmoded or a thing of the past. It can break out at any time and rapidly escalate into regional conflict. This will always be a clear and present danger as long as we leave things as they are. Where are the peace nerds? Let us go through the principles and imagine how they might be rigged up to save us all.

Individual Search for Truth, or Independent Investigation of Reality

The title says it all. Put all effort and attention to making yourself a peace nerd, since the central fact of human existence is that we are designed for life, not to die by the sword. Nuff said.

Oneness of Humanity

The oneness of humanity teaches that we are one in essentials, and diverse only in what is particular and limited in scope. These differences, being ephemeral, are not worth fighting over.

William James in the above mentioned essay suggests as an alternative to military wars a war against nature. Today we know that if we war against nature we only kill ourselves. It is true that we can see a war against nature more narrowly, as a fight against certain viruses, bacilli and other pests, but that surely is only a rear-guard action. We need to pick out the real causes of war among ourselves and fight them.

War can only exist in the power vacuum created by a majority of the population utterly neglecting these first two pivotal, principles, search and oneness. The consciousness of the oneness of humanity teaches that the only way to permanent peace is for everybody to see everybody else as on the same side in a shooting war not against each other but against the real enemies of humanity: falsity, ignorance and imitation.

The real fight, the Most Great War, has to be for unity, comity and world order, which is to say, God. To win this spiritual war all we have to do is live the examined life instilled by the first principle, investigation of reality. As soon as we grasp our inner oneness, we will be at peace with our neighbour. With that on firm ground, we have no choice; we must see each other as one since all were created of a loving God. This will expunge from mind and heart all perceived need for the ideas, illusions, imitations and prejudices that lead to war.

Oneness of Faith

The real moral equivalent of war is faith, the fight to honestly confront our mortality and meet our God. We make that into a principle if we act on the knowledge we gain from that encounter, and on nothing less. Faith is to meet our Maker not just at the moment we die but in every moment of conscious life. It is to imitate the God who created the universe and nurtures it and us every second of our lives. We were made not just for here and now but for all time, we are designed to pray and reflect and to act upon that. On the other hand, to be unfaithful, to be lazy and imitate lesser things is to fertilize the root causes of war.

If too many let their spiritual side go fallow, wars will break out like brushfires in a parched forest. But if we support one another in bolstering our spiritual strength, religion will cease to be a cause of war and will become a pillar of peacemaking.

Harmony of Science and Religion

We are living in a world where not only innovation but money and knowledge are systematically drained away into weaponry and other machineries of war. That is why the average person lives a boring, desperate life that can only be galvanized by a shooting war. When faith and science are reconciled, the flow will reverse itself. Money and talent will turn to peaceful ends, one of the most important of which is to make life interesting and challenging for everybody.

So, our goal as peace nerds is to substitute the military lust into an urge for peace, to make war-tooled industry into an educational endeavour, to turn our globe into a huge school, what Comenius called a "factory of light." Our challenge is to turn stultifying workplaces to activity as involving as an insurgency. To do that we will surely need to summon up all the faith and knowledge at our command.

Elimination of Prejudice

As we learn to think for ourselves and we come to a realization of our essential oneness as human beings, we immediately realize that prejudice of some kind is at the root of every war, conflict and dispute. `I have seen the enemy, and he is our own idle, slipshod thoughts.' It does no good to fret about how the Web is allowing hate groups to proliferate, how calumny, gossip and backbiting not only between individuals but among races and ethnic groups gain force and how old parochialism and hatreds are strengthened by new technical means. These manifold dangers will continue to spread as long as we fail to follow through on an idea as old as modern science.

In the 16th Century Francis Bacon proposed "tables of error," databases that would compile, display and refute common misconceptions. Yet today, in spite of our advanced technical understanding, we forget that science (and faith) are not all about finding truth, they must also be concerned with expunging falsity. The problem is that, as Heraclitus pointed out, truth loves to hide.

This principle of elimination of prejudice teaches that just as all living organisms absorb good chemicals and eliminate useless ones, the search for truth must involve the rejection of wrongs. We all therefore have a prime duty to make a vigorous effort to expunge errors, prejudices and superstition from not only our own thoughts as individual but the public realm as well.

Faith groups, scientists and government leaders must come together and agree on what is essential, what is clearly right and wrong, and what must be left aside as a matter of conscience. Then they must act together on this resolution, protecting those who hold to matters of conscience from persecution, propagating officially-recognized knowledge that that everybody should know and recognize, and at the same time systematically refuting all lies and falsities, and especially those that might lead to war.

Equality of the Sexes

It is a glaring fact of modern life that wars and conflicts mostly take place where women are kept out of public life. Georgia, Iraq, Afghanistan, the list goes on. Even in peaceful regions women are not advancing as quickly as they must in order for disarmament and other measures for stable peace to be put on the table. This problem, then, is not an exclusively feminist issue. Indeed every peace nerd and "principle-nik" must constantly bear the equality of women in mind.

I have been suggesting the idea of a merit flag for every nation and region. Present flags display whatever a national government decides to put on it. Why not have a badge or symbol that is worth something, that they earn? Why not a merit symbol, some kind of flag or badge sanctioned by a world government whose contents are designed and adjudicated by a world body of statisticians? This would have no end of usefulness for the peace nerd.

Link every nation or region's merit flag (MF) directly to established statistical measures of well-being and happiness of the people who live there. If a nation wants to have colors on its MF, then let it have at least fifty percent women as its leaders. If it wants bright colours, let it pay and employ women equitably throughout its civil service and other work places. Otherwise, their websites and other public displays will be required to show only a dull or monochrome flag.

If a place's merit is flagged publicly, it would become impossible to hide misogyny and other systemic injustices. If a locale wants to get rid of the black splotches that turn up on their MF caused by sexual inequity, let them treat their women and minorities better. With such in-your-face publicity it would be very hard to maintain complacency. As things are now, chauvinistic national pride blindly sanctions every war that an oligarchic minority decides is in its interest. With MF's, anybody who wants to express legitimate patriotism will have to earn whatever they take pride in.

Next time, let us talk about the economic principles of becoming a peace nerd.

1 comment:

M.Champ said...

great stuff bro...