Cultural conditioning

Something more about words. I said to you earlier that words are limited. There is more I have to add. There are some words that correspond to nothing. For instance, I'm an Indian. Now, let's suppose that I'm a prisioner of war in Pakistan, and they say to me, “Well, today we're going to take you to the frontier, and you're going to take a look at your country.” So they bring me to the frontier, and I look across the border, and I think, “Oh , my country, my beautiful country. I see villages and trees and hills. This is my own, my native land!” After a while one of the guards says, “Excuse me, we've make a mistake here. We have to move up another ten miles.” What was I reacting to? Nothing. I kept focusing on a word, India. But trees are not India; trees are trees. In fact, there are no frontiers or boundaries. They were put there by the human mind; generally by stupid, avaricious politicians. My country was one country once upon a time; it's four now. If we don't watch out it might be six. Then we'll have six flags, six armies. That's why you'll never catch me saluting a flag. I abhor all national flags because they are idols. What are we saluting? I salute humanity, not a flag with an army around it. [1]

Still, we get attached to words. Words, ideas and opinions which get crystallized over time. Then, we refuse to change our mind, as if doing so meant we give up who we are. It is easier to get along with this self-reinforcing and self-referencing way of understanding the world that some people call culture — cultural conditioning in its different forms, such as patriotism, would be more accurate.

Wars are fought by people who don't know each other, people not having issues at all. It is a tragedy for everyone almost everyone. There is a minuscule group of war profiteers on both sides, they neither put the lives, nor the money, nor send their children to die — those are taken from people like us, no matter what is “your flag”.

Somewhere, there is always a war being fought. Why are you suddenly interested in it?

“Condemnation is the way of war”, as Yibo wrote. Condemning each other, with guns on the battlefield or with our opinions online, we are all part of this war. Easy it is to condemn the other side, look within our greed, hatred, and ignorance is hard.

There is no justification for war. People like us will pay—either with blood or money—in the end. Patriots and terrorists are the same, the only difference is on which side of the line you are.

[1] Awareness – The perils and opportunities of reality. by Anthony de Mello