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Conquering the war mindset

“Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results”

The above quote of Albert Einstein follows the first line of the song written by the husband-and-wife team of Jill Jackson and Sy Miller, which was penned in 1955, the year of the genius’s passing.

Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda

Einstein’s musings offer context for reflecting on the observance of November 11, Armistice Day, the end of the First World War. That conflagration touted as “the war to end all wars” was in reality a brutal battle among European monarchies — which the United States joined belatedly — in their greed to expand empires.

Their hierarchical societies meant that working-class and colonised men died by the millions during that trench warfare. New and improved methods, such as mustard gas, wreaked havoc across Europe.

After four years, the war ended on November 11, 1918, with more than 21 million killed as a direct result and many millions more injured. Like any tragedy, there were devastating side effects, such as the major pandemic of 1918, with between 17 million and 50 million deaths worldwide over four years.

War is an ego mindset, which Eckhart Tolle contends we all possess, although we have potential to address. The two world wars demonstrate the resultant collective insanity possible. Tolle’s German parents experienced the Nazi madness directly, leading to his dysfunctional upbringing.

Eckart migrated to Britain in his teens, seeking answers and eventually enrolling in philosophy at Cambridge University. When his favourite professor died by suicide, Tolle underwent a spiritual transformation and migrated to California to complete his bestseller, The Power of Now.

Oprah described Eckhart’s second book, A New Earth, as “a wake-up call for the entire planet”, suggesting that our lack of self-awareness leads us to confuse our identities with external power — control. This results in individual and mass insanity.

In addition to the perversion created during the 12 years of fascism across Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, Tolle cites other examples of collective madness of a “war mindset”.

• The inquisitions to ensure Catholic adherence by brutal torture

• European witch-hunts in the 1600s, terrorising women who were deemed witches by boiling or burning thousands at the stake

• European invasions of the Americas in the 15th century saw the devastation of civilisations, decimating the vast majority of resident populations

• The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade brought infamous tragedy over centuries

While these are extreme impacts of war mindsets, let me share a personal example involving one of my grandsons recently. He shared with me that he had hit a fellow student at his school playground for taking his ball.

I recognised that he had mistakenly slipped into a war mindset. Tolle explains how youngsters, especially, confuse a toy with their personal identity.

I addressed this, encouraging my grandson the day after to offer the other student a “forgiveness card”, on which he would draw a picture of himself feeling appropriately sad. When I suggested that he might include himself offering a gift, he suggested that the offer should be pictured as “dreams” — a box and a flower.

The reconciliation reportedly went off well the next day at school.

Some days later, it hit me — pun intended — that over the past many months, once or twice I had manifested my own war mindset. Having lost patience, I had mistakenly given my grandson a light smack on his backside for conduct I deemed inappropriate. To my credit, I had apologised immediately after those incidents — let it begin with me.

Addressing a war mindset is leveraged through reconciliation. There are numerous successful examples on both personal and national levels.

Given the pivotal circumstances that the planet faces at present — existential threat of climate crisis, mounting inequality and manifestations of a war mindset pushing military solutions for complex challenges — there is a need for a global armistice and an openness to reconciliation.

Of course, this armistice must begin with ourselves. Collectively, it could involve joint actions such as:

• Ending the climate war, especially the use of fossil fuels, in declaring peace with Planet Earth — our shared home

• Joining the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s call to address the military industrial complex’s capture of US government policy. Although the US has ended the $300 million per day Afghanistan campaign, the just-released 2022 Budget has again increased military spending by billions, with more than 55 per cent going to the war machine

• “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally” — foster a robust sense of community across all boundaries, geared to proactively addressing these challenging times

• Promoting an amnesty among those local gang members, who are engaged in violent conflict

• Fostering provisions for leveraging reconciliation on both the local and global levels

• Promoting collective visioning — “dreaming” — towards a peaceful world.

Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda

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Published November 13, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated November 12, 2021 at 3:54 pm)

Conquering the war mindset

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