Before any of my dear readers are led to think that I’ve denied the existence of war itself, or any particular wars past or present, I submit: of course not. Anyone who has lived through actual physical warfare knows that it’s consequences are very real.
According to worldpopulationreview.com there are 32 countries currently at war in 2022. Yes, they are real, and they are real tragedies. I’m not in denial of that.
So allow me to explain when I say that “the war isn’t really real.” Often, the reasons for war that are offered to the public are not real. Each side needs its citizens, or members, to believe that they are on the right side of the war. Often God is invoked to seal the deal that war is righteous, because its victims are supposedly evil. This is an ancient and wrong justification for violence. Going deeper in to what it means that war isn’t real: it’s the war in the mind.
The war in the mind is the inner conflict that each of us feel on different occasions. Some of us manage the inner conflict better than others, expressing our views in reasonable ways, such as peaceful discourse and forensics. Some of us feel that we are forbidden to express the conflict we feel, peacefully or not. The misunderstanding, the feelings of disenfranchisement, and the desire to be right can fester in our hearts, becoming hatred. An enemy forms in the mind, that is also not real. It is possible to hold symbols in our psyche of enemies that want to hurt us. It seems as though they want to prevent us from succeeding, or kill us altogether. It’s easy to begin to feel extremely persecuted by people who may not have any knowledge that we even exist.
Sometimes we become willing to fight these enemies. Launching bullets and missiles into the air, hoping to strike them. Most often, these projectiles only hurt innocent people. And we can recall a broad variety of horrific ways that we, as humans, attack our fellows that go beyond literal arms. Physical violence and rhetoric have done equal damage in the destruction of our relationships.
The WAR that is not real is everything that leads up to the violence. But, should we defend ourselves? Absolutely. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the Times person of the year for 2022. We’re often reminded that this title isn’t bestowed, necessarily, on the basis of goodness, but on influence. And he is highly influential for his role in the self-defense in Ukraine. Would I say to this man that his war isn’t real? Of course not.
But what about the rest of us? Are we justified in retaliating over every offense? Should the availability of weapons justify their use? Some do think so. But it is up to each of us to cultivate the honesty, and self analysis of our views; to check our offended minds for our role in the conflicts we find ourselves in. Are we always right? If so, this is suspect and a good time to evaluate our thinking. Is someone else in our lives always wrong, by virtue of their gender, color, bank balance, neighborhood, political leaning, their position, their power, their wealth or poverty, their disagreement?
I will assert that nobody is wrong all the time and if it seems so, it may be time for a reality check.