War and Peace
September 16, 2010, 9:53 pm - James Farrer
I don't know that this has much to do with the book of the same title I watched a show that made me think quite a bit about the contrast between war and peace and the attitudes that invite both. I like to watch a good sci-fi. If you ask me what I'm in the mood to watch, it's almost always a good sci-fi movie. Most of them tend to take place in the future because hey that's where the cool toys are and that's half the fun of watching a good sci-fi. There's a lot to that topic alone, but I've got something else on my mind. This last show I watched involved humans versus aliens. Us or them. It was a bit of a twist because it was primarily from the alien perspective. But through many of the sci-fi there is a theme to some degree of us or them. I've watched several recently and can think of many others that revolve around a concept of people warring almost to the point of extinction. Sometimes the end result is better than others. Many times it involves partially or completely destroying earth in it.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think destroying earth would be good for anyone, but there seems to be enough conflict pent up in a lot of people's heads to point us to that conclusion. Even if it's not destroying earth, destroying the other civilizations. it doesn't really matter whose civilization as long as it's the other one right? Those that are different than us. Right? Humans vs. aliens, man vs. machine, us vs. them. While I still enjoy a good action/adventure/sci-fi, even if it revolves around those topics, it sure makes me wonder about where things are going. I suppose having the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has most of those answers. My wondering is mostly on the path from here to there. How bad will it get. When a natural disaster hits, it seems to bring out both the good and the bad in people. Some will start looting and grabbing all they can get while others will go far out of their way to help those that are suffering and in need. I want to have food storage for when a disaster strikes, but I feel that almost as important as the food storage are the guns to protect it and my family. Why is that?
I served a mission in the Baltics for two years. It was part of the former Soviet Union, the USSR, the CCCP. I remember watching on TV years earlier when the Cold War ended and when the Berlin wall came down. I have had many conversations since that time with people, mostly older, that still think of those evil Commies. I lived with them. I know them. I love them. Yes they speak a different language, yes they do things a little differently. But when all is said and done they're really not that different from us. So why did we have so many struggles for so long. Why did we live in a Cold War, on the brink of real war?
A little farther south we have soldiers fighting for freedom. It's freedom for the people there as much as for the people here. I can't count how many times I've heard a statement to the effect of "what's with those Muslims?" Well, having got to know several very well and having had some in depth discussions about their beliefs and ours, they are pretty nice folks. In many ways a lot nicer than we are. And a lot more righteous. Yes, there are people that have taken things too far and twisted the Muslim religion into something far different and worse than I'd like to think most people believe in. Unfortunately some of those more extreme people have taken over in places and are sending out a bad image. But if the people I have known are any sort of an indication of what the larger population is like, we have as much to fear of our biases and stereotypes of them as we do of the extremists that threaten us. When I see someone looking at another through stereotypical glasses, I feel sad for how blinded they have become.
I frequently feel like an anomaly. I think about things in ways that don't seem very common. I've found that somewhat beneficial as it has served me well, but I hope others can see the damage that some of the stereotypes are causing. Seeing people as those "others" that are different. It seems that those "others" are far more similar than they are different. So why do we have such a hard time seeing it? Why do so many people focus more on the negative differences that the positive similarities?
In one of my business classes in college we played a game. I don't remember the exact details, but it was something along these lines. Everyone starts out with a dollar in coins. Everyone contributes a portion into the middle for each round. Everyone must decide to leave it there or take it back. If everyone leaves that portion alone, then everyone gets an increase. However if most of the people choose to trust and leave their portion in the middle, but a few decide to take a portion back, the few that decide to take split what's in the middle for a greater benefit to them at the cost to those that trusted them to do what better for all. I'm not sure if that made sense or not, but basically if everyone cooperates and works together then things go good for everyone, otherwise it's pretty much a loss for almost everyone except for maybe a few people. Let's just say that I lost that dollar, lost a bit of my hope that people will do the right thing, and I remember feely quite angry about the whole event. While through the coarse of the game I only lost a dollar monetarily, I felt betrayed. People lied to try and get gain. There may be a few that walked away with a couple extra dollars, and even though there was a disclaimer at the beginning absolving people of all guilt for lying since it was "part of the game" I didn't feel like it made it any less wrong.
I'm often scared for how mean, biased, deceitful, and ignorant people are when dealing with the "others". But somewhere deep inside, I still believe that most people have a good heart inside and want what is best for all. I just wish more people would let that good heart show a little more often. After all, to someone else, aren't we the "other"?