Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Is It in Our Brain's Hardware to See Enemies
Once upon a time a mighty king paid a visit to a wise man with a question: "How do I lose my enemies?" -- upon which the wise dude said: "Start loving them." The king, now disappointed exclaimed: "But then I would have no enemies to defeat!"
It was that brilliant neuroscientist, Dr. Candice Pert who came up with an evidence about our addictions to emotions -- good, but also those crappy ones.
Hence this nasty addiction of having enemies. Namely, it all gets traced back to prehistoric times filled with all kinds of four legged predators which found us quite a delicious item on their menu. Our amygdala, that part of brain responsible for our survival instinct got over time so trigger-happy that it created this addiction to threats.
So, when all kinds of modern shrinks are talking about an overactive fight/flight mechanism and its responsibility for anxiety disorder, they are basically saying how we still share that primitive trait with Fred Flintstone.
It didn't take long in those very starts of primitive societies that those manipulative "alphas-in the-pack" discovered how fear mongering was quite effective in keeping masses under control.
So, inventing enemies has a long history. It certainly didn't start with a couple of mobsters visiting a corner store and warning the keeper about "unfriendly neighborhood" and his need for a protection -- for a fee involved. An offer that the poor guy could not afford to refuse .
No, that racket started much earlier, when a greedy tribal chief announced that those folks with different set of feathers in their head-set were after their proud asses. I get giggles just at the thought how little it has changed ever since.
Being a leader fromever suggested "being right". Respect was not something to be deserved, but to be demanded -- so that early in history followers learned that it was a hazardous thing to use their own head if they didn't want to lose it.
Long after it stopped being fashionable to chop the head off of to those who would dare challenge the authority -- came these more civilized times when all protests are just ignored.
So when your leader says that you have to bomb the hell out of some "enemies" you have never heard about before -- don't bother asking if those "commies", or "turbans" are really after grabbing your house, raping your daughter, and your wife if she is still qualifying with her looks, and kill you while you are looking for your gun.
Just hate them enough, because you have been told to hate them.
To be successful you need friends, and to be very successful you need enemies.
-- Sidney Sheldon
Temporary Discount on Price of Human Lives
With that amygdala running at overdrive in most of us, how hard is it really to keep us in a constant state of paranoia over some official enemies.
Now, all patriotic and political cosmetics aside, it really boils down to one human telling another human to go die-if-necessary for his ideas. You can look at it your own way if you wish, but to me it's downright degrading. After reading over and over your Holy book, and believing in all of it, here you go to kill someone who never did anything to you.
Then the 4-year administration changes, and the new one calls that war a total waste of lives and money. Moreover, those enemies are now your country's new friends. Hmm... oops, of course, it was just an "unfortunate misunderstanding", and there is no end of diplomatic tail-wagging now. Why all those people had to die? What a stupid question! Of course, for their country, what else.
Imagine how crazy -- but at the same time brilliant idea it would be if all those politicians at the United Nations were replaced by ordinary folks -- let's even call it "jury style" assembly.
Would you be willing to believe that, all of a sudden, all animosities would cease to exist between countries? People would quickly share their common and simple interests, now questioning who ever instigated that hate. And then comes this crazy question: If nations are not hating each other, who are their leaders representing when they invent enemies?
For an example, the great number of Americans didn't even know there was a country named Vietnam. Fifty thousand dead young men later, and another so many committing suicide with permanent damage from horrors of that war -- there is a friendship and trade between the two countries, as if nothing ever happened.
I won't even touch Bush's war that is still raging under one name after another -- first because Iraq "possessed weapons of mass destruction"(?) which made it somehow responsible for 9/11; then it was a war for installing democracy in Iraq; and now, more than a decade later it's the war against terrorism. The sad irony is that Saddam Hussein, "the brutal dictator" would have never killed as many of his Iraqi people as the allies did.
Can you see the pattern of a constant insistence on an enemy? Should we go on with enemies like China, Russia, Iran, Mexicans, democrats, fake news media...? Who is next? Hostile extraterrestrials?
Beware of no man more than yourself, we carry our worst enemies within us.
-- Charles Spurgeon
What Makes Enemies Necessary
Political struggle first comes to mind -- beside that already mentioned, almost default function of amygdala which literally seeks enemies as a reflection of its programmed "conviction that there must be some around". Every function seeks its outer expression, and so it is easy to dupe the masses into a belief that "they are a potential victims of some sinister forces". Religion has done it -- why not politicians.
But then there is another reason for enemies to exist. Namely, in those olden times of kings and knights it was relatively easy to manipulate the masses, as it was done by force. You, the king, had your rebel publicly beheaded, and any remaining "smart asses" gave up any interest.
Not so long after, we got a garden variety of dictators under all kinds of titles, who happened to graduate at the same school as those ruthless kings, meaning that any protest was only a sneeze away from brutal suppression.
But then the ruling class -- because it's always about the ruling class -- came up with the idea of democracy, a political massive tranquilizer which was to give the power of election to the masses -- while options were only apparent, that is, no matter whom they would elect, it would stay the same arrangement of the richest calling shots, just with some smaller modifications which, anyway, never made ordinary Joe more prosperous.
That was necessary because people got educated and potentially dangerous for the institution of government -- as it was practiced. Demonstrations were allowed, free speech was allowed, but that was without any consequence, for which we have ample proofs. Calling your leader any derogative name may also give an enormous feeling of freedom -- but ultimately, it never changes anything.
However, that crucial component of mass manipulation had to involve a constant mass paranoia -- which would make them stick to the Big Daddy for protection. Remember the universal formula so well practiced by those mobsters? Invent an enemy and offer yourself for protection.
By the way, the formula has also been used in medico-pharmaceutical establishment, which made us believe in our fragile health, with them offering a life-saving solutions. With a result that people have full medicine cabinets and already know all that fancy medical lingo of diagnoses and treatments.
As well as the multi-billion dollar nutritional supplement business which succeeded to make us paranoid over the polluted water, soil, air, oceans, food...hell, even our own body being an "enemy" by producing all kinds of metabolic toxic wastes that calls for detoxifying supplements. And supplements business has one advantage over medications -- you can use those many pills as a preventative measure. Just knowing that we have to "prevent" something puts a bug in our head about a constant danger.
Enemies...enemies...enemies everywhere -- poor mankind. It makes one wonder -- if we are so fragile, why didn't we go extinct together with those mighty dinosaurs.
For a Brief Epilog
Some time ago I watched a heart warming You tube documentary about a happy reunion of a group of American and German WW2 veterans, who the last time literally looked at each other over the machine-gun barrels.
Apparently, there was a week long street battle for a small Italian town, which ended with both sides exhausted and bleeding beside many casualties.
And now, it was a truly touching, if not also highly educational scene, as both groups of those ex-enemies were lined up and facing each other -- to end the short ceremony by each putting a medal for bravery on the chest of the one in from of them.
I shamelessly admit that I got all choked up seeing them give each other a long bear hug, with eyes shedding a tear, as if saying "I am sorry, I never really hated you."
Really folks, is the global peace some luxury reserved for some future generations when people will be using heads for something more than for wearing hats?
Paranoia breeds even those most ridiculous conspiracy theories -- watch the video
© 2020 Val Karas