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3/27/2004

Historic Identity

      4:11 am

    Identity is rooted in relationships. From an enourmous variety of past events, ranging from very recent impressions of the day all the way back to prehistoric evolutionary instinctually conditioned reflexes, we extract abstract understandings which predominantly create and maintain our sense of self.

    For the most part, inhereted identity structures are taken as fact and unquestioned, and when a challenge to an identity occurs, it is often initiated from the perspective of another equally unexamined sense of self.

    Most violence is about struggles relating to identity, especially wars. One group is inspired to wage war against another group through rhetorical communications which attempt to redefine two ideas: 1) Them 2) Us

    Them explains how ‘they’ - the enemy - is to be linked as a group conceptually with painful memories and destroyed. Us describes how ‘we’ are to be thought of us a group and associated with pleasant memories and protected. That’s the basis of war. We are good, they are bad. Sometimes this logic coexists with a simpler, more blatantly selfish equation: ‘we’ want to survive - regardless of the consequences for ‘them’.

    Many people simply accept these arguments unconsiously and lend verbal support to very brutal wars, and this support is inevitably linked to their sense of identity. My newspaper, my TV, my president, my community. We trust what we know and are familiar with.

    Sometimes the credibility of these descriptions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ wears thin. The president of the United States ignored some of the largest peace demonstrations the world has known to initiate the Iraq war based on what appear to be bogus premises of hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The first strike use of nuclear weapons was even hinted at as an option should Iraq have fought back with (the imagined) chemical or biological weapons.

    The same capacity for delusional notions of self and ‘us’ and ‘them’ that in extreme cases motivates someone to blow up a train or a destroy a skyscraper (or begin a ‘preemptive’ war) exists to some extent in everyone - and that goes all the way up to the president of the United States, who reportedly has control over the United States arsenal of over 10,000 nuclear weapons. The president was once arrested for drunk driving, and some believe he was an alcoholic and even used cocaine. This is not an attempt to villify him, these points just confirm the obvious, that he is obviously like the rest of humanity - all to human. The problem is that we all live together in a situation where one all to human leader and his influencial advisors have the power to do considerable and perhaps unrepairable damange to our global environment - with very few checks and balances.

    Considering the fact that even very popular leaders can become delusional (remember Richard Nixon?), nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction must be prohibited worldwide - and that certainly means in the United States as well.

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