4. …And The Pursuit Of Hapiness
4.1 Human Interaction: It Takes Two to Tango
Survival has a twin called Need, and they’re always together. We learn from the start that we need more than air, water and food—we need others. Very early on, people depend on each other for survival; in fact, we’re all born completely dependent, as infants, upon someone. In Western society, a conflict often arises between our natural human need for others and our “quest for independence.” We have self-sufficiency, self-fulfillment, self-knowledge, self-mastery, self-control, self-indulgence, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-assurance, self-consciousness, self-defense, self-government, self-help, self-improvement, self-interest, self-pity, self-preservation, self-reliance, self-satisfaction and self-respect. We are self-centered, self-contained, self-evident, self-righteous, self-supporting, self-sustained and self-motivated!
In our world of human interaction, of Give and Take, closely-related to our twins Survival and Need are the triplets Power, Submission, and Opposition, although those of us who know Creativity prefer her companionship to that of the triplets. Most human interaction is related to survival/need, give/take, power/submission/opposition, friendship and/or creativity. We learn by trial-and-error to assert our individuality and begin to use our “power” as soon as we realize it’s there. Along with our needs, we develop wants and expectations.
Like fire and all forms of energy and tools known to us, our pride can be either a constructive or destructive force, depending upon how it’s used. Pride can be our incentive and motivating passion to do our best, to excel and to reach our highest possible achievements—or it can consume us and destroy us—it can become the biggest obstacle of all on our path to our higher selves, if we let it. If we can control it and use its powerful energy for good, we will be able to harness its tremendous force to our advantage and it will work with us—if not, it will control us (as with anger and all other emotions) and work against us, because pride without wisdom and insight is like a boat without a sail or a car without steering. We have but to look at human history to see what pride without direction, guidance and conscience has done to us—or, more aptly—undone for us. We can either indulge in our anger, false pride and other emotions, and let them grow, or we can find something better to do with our time.
Because we reap what we sow, we’d do well to spend our time in positive pursuits. When we let go of false pride, or anger, we free ourselves to do something that can help us. Negative emotions are like a big, huge wave that hits us at the ocean’s edge. If we’ve ever romped in the surf at the seaside, we know that the best strategy is to “duck and let the wave pass over us” so that it crashes onto the shore, where its force is shattered.
On the other hand, fueling our negative emotions (as with concentrating on symptoms of a healing crisis) lends strength to them, reinforces their control factor over our lives, making us less free. When we find ourselves thinking “so and so (or such and such) makes me so mad,” we must remember that it is we ourselves who make the decision on what to do with our anger. It’s ironic that we so often find ourselves thinking we don’t have “enough” time for this or that, but we’ll turn around and burn up twice the vital life energy in anger or other negative emotions—most illogical! Only positive action will help us to change things for the positive. We should use our emotions for fuel, not our life energy itself.
4.2 Peace on Earth, Good Will to All . . .
We’ve reached a point of stagnation on a planetary level, where international relations are concerned. We’re all posed and “ready,” weapons-in-hand, all trying to act tough and scare each other into peace (or whatever) by threat of possible force. If you’ve ever watched two tomcats nose-to-nose, making their growning, siren-type sounds, you’ll notice that neither one wants to be the first to back down at that point; they’re now stuck at this crucial point of a “final confrontation.”
We’re like these cats, making our most impressive, mean, scary threats, and we’re so deep into it that we’re afraid to trust one another. We’ve heard all the threats and made our own, and we’ve defined ourselves as “enemies,” when the reality is that we’d still be better off in the kitchen of a Russian family than with our local mugger here at home. The enemies we fail to recognize are often more dangerous to us in the everyday sense than those we’ve been told to fear. In any case, we’ve built the wall between us, and built elaborate “defense” mechanisms for self-“protection”; in fact, as we’ve said, we’ve done such a thorough job of building weapons that our self-“defense” now threatens self-destruction as well. We’ve built the wall by a lack of understanding and lack of cooperation, by fear, mistrust, and refusal to communicate honestly. When we do communicate, our messages are often confusing: we stand with a loaded gun (so to speak) pointed at each other’s noses, and our voices are saying, “hey, let’s be friends and talk this over.” No one dares to be first to put the gun down, and our history of war and violence certainly doesn’t help to allay our fears. As long as we can’t believe each other and trust each other, the tension persists.
We’ve arrived at the last stop on this bus, as it were—the end of the line. It’s gone round and round in circles, and each time we’ve found ourselves back where we started; this route has had little to offer for our spiritual evolution as creatures of light. It’s time now to decide whether to get off the bus and make a transfer to a new journey, or whether to head once again for the “terminal.” A 1984 news item said “the world will spend $1 trillion for weapons other military purposes by next year,” (according to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency). From “less” than $300,000,000,000 in 1972, spending rose to $820,000,000,000 in 1982, and was expected to reach $970,000,000,000 in 1984, thus heading for the $1,000,000,000,000 mark (I’m purposely writing these figures out with 0′ s because they make more of a visual impression than the respective terms “million, billion, trillion,” and so on). The weapons industry is obviously doing a booming business (if you can pardon a bad pun) in an age where funds for positive human endeavors are so often said to be “dwindling, lacking, unavailable, or whatever.” Economies in every nation are involved in sales and purchases of these instruments of death, certainly not a wholesome foundation on which to base our economies. With nuclear, chemical, environmental and/or biological war now possible, what we’re seeing is global weapons pollution of the highest order, and the world’s increasing violence and power struggles are symptomatic of ailing minds and spirits that result from pollution of our human values of love and cooperation, worldwide.
Studies indicate that testing of these weapons has already taken its toll on innocent victims everywhere. Thousands of civilians have filed suits in Nevada and other areas, citing that they’ve been exposed to deadly radioactive fallout. Hundreds of atmospheric and underground tests have taken place (not all even announced)—we’ve been told not to trust “foreigners,” but it becomes obvious that we can’t even trust our health, lives and safety to our own government either. As just one example of the magnitude of potential and real danger of such tests, consider the following excerpt from Hamaker’s Survival of Civilization, page 75:
“In 1972 the Atomic Commission tested a 5-megaton bomb a mile below sea level on the Aleutian island of Amchitka. The Aleutian chain is a continental heater and the Bering Sea is slowly being raised to plateau status. The underground bomb test had the ingredients for a total change in the world’s weather. Fortunately a group of senators headed by Senator Phillip Hart persuaded the AEC to stop the testing.”
An underground test in Nevada (2/81) was the “568th reported at the Yucca Flats” (northwest of Las Vegas) and the “353rd announced since atmospheric testing was stopped (by the U.S.) in 1963.” Where does all this radiation go? A May 1984 news article talks of suits by Nevada residents who say the government knew or should have known the fallout was dangerous (atomic tests from 1951-1962) and was negligent in not protecting people downwind from the Nevada Test Site.
A January 1984 news article says “the Reagan administration has been concealing an unknown number of nuclear explosions at the underground test site in Nevada, signifying a break with a 1975 policy of announcing all explosions.”
Hold on to your seats for this one: An official at the Energy Department said “the policy of announcing only the larger tests was adopted a year ago for convenience. There was simply no reason to announce them all. The size of some of the tests was such that they didn’t even create a ripple. Nobody could feel them off the test site. It takes a lot of work to announce each of those tests. And it was information that was not germane to the general public.” There you have it folks. Don’t fret—”what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” right? A ripple? (Just because a person doesn’t “feel” those little old cancer cells start to work in his body, doesn’t make them any less dangerous.) The article concludes in saying that since Reagan administration took office, the federal budget for nuclear ting has almost doubled, going to $388,000,000 (1984) from 201,000,000 in 1981.” Pacific islanders have borne much of the brunt of the nuclear age; over 200 weapons tests have been conducted in the region, and people exposed to the fallout have been plagued with high rates of thyroid cancer, miscarriage, stillbirth, leukemia and other health problems. When the U.S. conducted its largest hydrogen bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands (March 1, 1954), hundreds of islanders, 28 American meteorologists, and 23 Japanese fishermen were exposed to high amounts of radioactive fallout.
Our weapons aren’t merely stockpiled in “safe little cubbyholes for some future use”—some have already killed victims. Physicians and others have banded together to warn the superpowers of the dangers of even “limited” nuclear wars: uncountable burn victims, too many to handle, and so on. We’ve all heard the details and are well aware of the dangers. Now we hear talk of “space” stations and “star wars,” of studies to determine feasibility of dumping nuclear waste in space—when and where will the madness end?
4.3 “Where never was heard a discouraging word, and the skies were not cloudy all day. . .”
Scientists have now alerted the world to the latest nuclear danger: that of a “nuclear winter,” with many of the negative consequences from increased cloud cover that we’ve already discussed in reference to potential global climate changes towards colder conditions due to excessive CO2 and other factors.
News of March 3, 1985, was that “the Pentagon has accepted as valid a theory that nuclear war could generate enough smoke and dust to blot out the sun and cause severe climatic cooling.” The 17-page report was the military’s first assessment of the theory that detonation of nuclear bombs could cause: “a devastating nuclear winter around the planet and drop temperatures as much as 75 degrees, first in the Northern Hemisphere and then southward as the smoke spread with the wind. Land and water would freeze and cause harsh global effects unrelated to radiation hazards. The upshot, they argued, would be the extinction of a significant proportion of the Earth’s animals and plants, possibly including the human race.”
An earlier news article (1/20/85) compares the cloud cover with those of past volcanic eruptions known to cause climate changes:
“We have established that volcanic eruptions have an effect on the climate, and enough of them happening at the same time, like exploding nuclear bombs, could have a significant effect. The most famous example of the effect of a volcano on climate was the eruption in 1815 of an Indonesian volcano (Tambora) which lasted three months, the largest eruption in historical times, producing huge quantities of ash and dust that were carried around the world in the stratosphere. The particles sufficiently deflected sunlight to produce what historians later called the year without a summer in 1816. In New England that year, there was widespread snow in June and frosts every month through the summer. Throughout the world it was unusually cold. Crop failures caused food shortages in Ireland and Wales; that’s the most famous example. It was the first time a relationship was shown between volcanoes and weather.” (Fred Bullard, geology professor, University of Texas.)
“Average annual temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere could be lowered to well below freezing for a month or longer,” is another description of potential climatic change. Other studies think extended periods of freezing would be unlikely. Again, everyone has a slightly varying opinion in these matters, but it should be obvious after our lengthy discussion in the last lesson on carbon dioxide excesses and their relation to the Ice Age cycles—plus indications of climatic extremes worldwide—that such cloud covers (added to our current excess CO2-generated clouds) could indeed produce dramatic changes. Here’s another description: “dust generated by nuclear explosions still could block enough sunlight to drop summer temperatures to near freezing and destroy food crops for survivors of the initial blast and radiation effects.” Bullard said recent volcanic activity hasn’t produced anything like the Tambora eruption, but has “continued a general world cooling trend that started with the eruption of a West Indies volcano in 1902. Dust and ash from the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington in 1980 didn’t rise high enough to enter the stratosphere or have much effect on world climate, although the dust still is circulating in the upper atmosphere. But dust from the eruption of El Chicon in Mexico in April 1982, did enter the stratosphere and is adding to the cooling,” he said. “It means,” he continues, “that frosts could come earlier than usual.” The news source then says, “Carbon dioxide from auto pollution in the upper atmosphere often is cited as producing a warming ‘greenhouse effect’ by intensifying sunlight. But Bullard said the Earth actually is in a cooling trend because of volcanic eruptions throughout this century, generated by dust from the volcanoes in the stratosphere, and there’ve been a significant number of eruptions in the past few years to help it along. It’s really only since scientists began using computers to analyze the changes that we’ve noticed the effects.”
Calculations of the nuclear winter concept have been made independently by several groups of scientists in the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and by now, the theory (if not its details) is probably agreed upon by scientists in other countries as well.
“Into the eternal darkness, into fire, into ice.”
—Dante, The Inferno
Excerpts on the Nuclear Winter, by Carl Sagan (10/30/83):
“The results of our calculations astonished us. The amount of sunlight at the ground was reduced to a few percent of normal—much darker, in daylight, than in a heavy overcast and too dark for plants to make a living from photosynthesis. At least in the Northern Hemisphere, where the great preponderance of strategic targets lies, an unbroken and deadly gloom would persist for weeks. Even more unexpected were the temperatures calculated. In the baseline case, land temperatures, except for narrow strips of coastline, dropped to minus 25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees F) and stayed below freezing for months—even for a summer war. (Because the atmospheric structure becomes much more stable as the upper atmosphere is heated and the lower air is cooled, we may have severely undererestimated how long the cold and dark would last.) The oceans, a significant heat reservoir, would not freeze, however, but because temperatures would drop so catastrophically, virtually all crops and farm animals, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, would be destroyed, as would most varieties of uncultivated or undomesticated food supplies. Most of the human survivors would starve. In addition, the amount of radioactive fallout is much more than expected; in long-term fallout, fine radioactive particles lofted into the stratosphere would descend about a year later, after most of the immediate, shorter-lived radioactivity had decayed. However, the radioactivity carried into the upper atmosphere (but not as high as the stratosphere) seems to have been largely forgotten, etc. Carrying of dust and soot from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere would thin the clouds some over the North, but then only making things worse in the Southern Hemisphere.
“In summary, the overall conclusion seems to be agreed upon: there are severe and previously unanticipated global consequences of nuclear war—subfreezing temperatures in a twilit radioactive gloom lasting for months or longer. If scientists have underestimated the effects and amounts of fallout, didn’t know fireballs from high-yield thermonuclear explosions could deplete the ozone layer and missed altogether the possible climatic effects of nuclear dust and smoke, what else have we overlooked? Nuclear war is now a theoretical problem for us, for it certainly isn’t amenable to experimentation! It is highly likely that there are even further adverse effects that no one has yet been wise enough to anticipate or recognize. With billions of lives at stake, where does conservatism lie—in assuming that the results will be better than we calculate, or worse? Many species of plants and animals would become extinct. Vast numbers of surviving humans would starve to death. The delicate ecological relations that bind together organisms on Earth in a fabric of mutual dependency would be torn, perhaps irreparably. There is little question that our global civilization would be destroyed. The human population would be reduced to prehistoric levels, or less. Life for any survivors would be extremely hard. And there seems to be a real possibility of the extinction of the human species. It is now almost 40 years since the invention of nuclear weapons … men and machines are fallible, and fools and madmen can exist and rise to power. Concentrating always on the near future, we have ignored the long-term consequences of our actions … fortunately it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose.”
So, if we don’t already have enough reasons for not embarking into a nuclear war of any proportion, here we have another. Nature will insist that we see the truth that what we do to her, or to others, we do to ourselves: we could literally destroy ourselves in seeking to destroy another in any size nuclear war.
War is. indeed, hell—whereas peace is heaven on earth. Ever since time immemorial it has been our dream. Now peace is more than a necessity for survival: it has become a reality that is just within our reach. With just one more burst of evolution of human consciousness, we will grasp it and hold on to it for dear life. Our most precious treasure—world peace—will become a reality. In protecting everyone, we protect ourselves best of all, and the best protection comes in the form of peace. Because we are all one and interconnected, we are beginning to realize that in destroying anyone, we destroy ourselves.
Einstein: ‘The bomb changed everything but the way we think.”
Our old ways of thinking of ourselves as separate and divided have become obsolete, and if we don’t change our tune soon, we’ll risk becoming obsolete with them. Our weapons systems are somewhat like a vicious watchdog that we’ve chained up to “protect” us, one that’s become so mean since it was full-grown, that we’ve begun to fear it ourselves, and don’t dare let it loose or touch it for fear of its bite. As long as it’s chained, we try our best to keep out of its way and ignore it, but we know it would attack an innocent person, or ourselves, if it were let off the chain. Some people might feel comfortable with such a dog, while others would see that we’ve created a monster.
War is our last link with the barbarism of our past. It is “the highest form of criminal acts, grave offenses against morality and social behavior” (David Stry); “when an individual kills another, the legal systems bitterly condemn such acts, but if done in a wholesale fashion by nations (artificial, political units), accompanied by marching bands, flags, uniforms, and propaganda, then medals and decorations are given out for bravery …” War is the ultimate use of force. Perhaps our outmoded belief that it can “solve” any of our problems is as foolish as our belief that medical drugs can force (“cure”) our bodies into health. Just as health alone produces healthful living, so too does peace alone (not war and weapons) produce harmony and cooperation, an environment in which life and all its creatures may flourish.
As long as our world “leaders” keep us separate and divided, as long as they encourage us to remain at odds with one another, they will succeed in holding us captive in warlike thoughts or endeavors. Only we can remove the final obstacle that keeps us from peaceful coexistence: this separation of human beings worldwide that keeps us from seeing one another as human. Once we see each other as human, we will do unto others as we would do unto ourselves. Pacifism isn’t a new idea. Although we’ve reached a crisis point in international world relations, in Psychology Today, June 1983, Erikson says:
“If you study the lives of very creative people, you’ll find that at times they all have a terrible sense of stagnation. And the interaction of such opposites is characteristic of every stage of the life cycle … I cannot help thinking of how nuclear weapons have done away with the boundaries of whole continents, and how, with their threat of global destruction, they call for the recognition of man’s indivisible ‘specieshood.’
Gandhi’s pacifists marched unarmed toward their attackers.
… In order for nonviolent behavior to be effective it must be shocking—it has to shake up the violent opponent peacefully. In that situation, what is more important: That you are an Indian? That you are a soldier? That you are an officer? That you are a human being? It has to come to the point where suddenly these other people become human to you. Then you can no longer keep hitting them. Incidentally, it’s amazing how American audiences are taking to the (Gandhi) movie, and these are not intellectuals. The movie about a great man’s use of nonviolent resistance reaches people who do not belong to special peace organizations, and it makes them thoughtful. That’s why it’s such an important film. I honestly believe that it focuses on something our Judeo-Christian culture has not yet quite understood and has not used, and will probably have to face: the invention of nonviolent tactics to get out of the nuclear dilemma.
“Human beings spend an awful lot of their imagination on defining just what others they don’t care for. The danger in rejectivity, that is, the rejecting of other people, other groups, or other nations, is that it leads to what I have called ‘pseudospeciation.’ People lose the sense of being one species and try to make other kinds of people into a different and mortally dangerous species, one that doesn’t count, one that isn’t human. Other groups are considered to be a different species, and you can kill them without feeling that you have killed your own kind. People aren’t conscious of doing this, and that’s why it’s so dangerous. The paradox is that pseudospecieshood as a sense of representing the best in humankind binds a group together and inspires loyalty, heroism and discipline, and the very existence of humanity depends on the solution of that paradox. What’s important now is a conviction that one’s culture and ‘system’ can go on living in a world that includes one’s former enemies.”
When asked if he thinks our odds of developing an identity that encompasses the whole species are any better than they were 15 years ago, Erikson replies: “Absolutely. After all, we are one species.”
Years ago, someone used force to get his way, and so began a long history of people getting what they could, when they could, if they could, because they could, no matter how they did. We could philosophize endlessly on the moral aspects involved, but the fact remains: we’re long overdue for a change in attitude. When Christopher Columbus set sail into the unknown, he had to take a chance. Every explorer, inventor and challenger of traditions has to take some risks. The Wright Brothers had to get up the nerve to take that first flight—how many of us would have found that courage? As our world shrinks in size, there are fewer new horizons left to discover, yet we’ve seen in our discussions of the mind and consciousness (to say nothing of outer space), that there are many dimensions of reality left to explore, albeit intangible or distant ones. One such reality is that we can live together in peace, if we make the combined commitment to such a world. We’ve never even tried to explore this incredible dimension of human reality, so largely unknown to us in our history, and yet so fondly dreamed of and hoped for and sought after by so many! It’s time to really give peace a chance, to explore the unknown territory of working out differences in a new way. We have everything to gain in doing so, and everything to lose if we don’t.
Let’s finish our discussion of peace with a short story:
Once upon a time there was a big boy and a little boy. The big boy figured that he could do whatever he wanted since he was the big one. One day a little boy was walking down the road, and the big boy called out to him, saying, “who do you think you are walking down my road?”
“The same person who walks down every road,” replied the little boy, without even slowing his pace.
Well, this was too much for the big boy, of course, because people didn’t just walk down his road, especially not if they were little, because they knew what that would mean. It made the big boy angry just to think about it. In fact, the more he thought about it, the angrier he got. Every angry thought was a brick being laid in a wall just behind the big boy, but he was so busy looking at the object of his anger—the little boy on the road—that he did not see the wall that he would have to face when he would finally turn around, nor imagine how long it would take to climb over this wall once he had built it. His angry thoughts seemed like endless fuel for the fire burning within him, and he. stood in front of the little boy and refused to let him pass. “No one walks on my road,” he said.
“This is my road too,” replied the little boy. The big boy could not believe what he was hearing. He figured he’d just have to show that little boy whose road it was.
The little boy was thinking the same thing! Then he looked at the big boy, at the wall behind him, and at the look in the big boy’s eyes. Maybe there were bigger boys, boys bigger than this big boy, boys who could walk on this road without fear, boys who would challenge bigger boys. But he also saw that the anger became stronger, every time they all let it grow.
He knew laughter. Even the big boys liked to laugh, after all. He wondered what was funny to this big boy, the one whose eyes were empty of life, whose voice echoed bitterness, whose face was etched in lines of hardness, and whose very being seemed to defy all happiness.
“I choose to be your friend,” said the little boy, for long ago he’d chosen to become a peacemaker. Perhaps this would be a good joke for the big boy, and he would laugh.
“What would I do with a little friend? sneered the big boy.
“I am a mirror,” said the little boy, “and whoever looks into me will see himself,” for lack of anything better to say. Maybe this would be funny to the big boy—surely he knew that all roads went to the same place. Surely he knew that they were the “same person.” Maybe he would see the wall behind him when he looked into the mirror in the little boy’s eyes. Or maybe not.
Maybe the little boy could say, “look behind you!” and run by real fast when the big boy looked, well, true, it’s an old trick. A big boy might expect to see something big, though—perhaps his fears were
While the little boy was busy pondering what strategy to use, the big boy was beginning to get a little bored. It wasn’t easy to fight with someone who had no intention of fighting, but he wanted the little boy to get what was coming to him—and with this last angry thought, the final brick was laid on the wall. They had now reached the moment of truth.
The little boy grasped it in an instant and ran forward toward the light. The big boy was close behind, but he ran headlong into his wall!
“Hell is truth seen too late.”