The historian and writer Gitta Sereny died last week, and something in her obituary caught my eye. Her motivation in visiting most of the world’s war zones was “the search for what it is that leads human beings so often and so readily to embrace violence and amorality. For me, the answer to this fundamental question lies in a personal and human rather than a theoretical or intellectual realm.”
Many in the New Age movement speak sweet words about global peace and non-violence, but they are not serious in their quest. Until we get to the heart of violence –why man enjoys war and, shocking as that sounds, it seems he does – we cannot hope to end it.
The genesis of war and violence is found in the personal and the human, as Gitta said, although a casual observation might conclude its source is something above the person, such as a struggle for resources, land, nationhood, political change or religious or civil freedoms.
These are the catalysts for war – but there has to be a desire for war, too, often from a sense of outrage, fear, intolerance, or greed. War begins in the heart of each one of us, and in the mean-spiritedness we might show our family or our neighbours.It magnifies beyond that, and anger must have its satisfaction, and will use us, as its bodily vehicle, for its bloody global ends.
But why does it happen at all? According to the Time-Light model, conflict is the result of the fusion of two Past time-bodies or selves: the Psychological past and its depository of hurts, pain and sadness, and the Narrative self, the storehouse of ‘your story’ of yourself as American, Christian and the like.
So, hurt + identity = conflict.
Something has to give for the equation to collapse. We can’t easily get rid of our identity, although we can relegate its significance to a bit-player in consciousness, but we can work on our hurts.
As I suggest in Time-Light, hurts are the remnants of partially observed experiences. We can’t experience wholly when we see from our limited point in time and space, and yet the whole – as consciousness – will release us from the trap of the past. The whole, or complete, person has no conflict in him because, as an expression of consciousness, there is no division.
Only when the miracle of the infinite and the eternal expresses itself in time and space will we have an end to war.