Find Me Ten
Like many Jews (whether they feel comfortable talking about it or not), I’ve felt my share of anguish, and shared guilt, at the death of innocent Palestinians living in Gaza, as well as the destruction of complete neighbourhoods by the Israeli artillery. This death and destruction may be what the Hamas leadership has secretly desired – in their quest for approval in the eyes of the world of their cause – or it may not. It doesn’t make it any easier, and it never will, to know that families have been torn apart, or completely destroyed, in the conflict, as children and mothers and other non-belligerents are routinely killed.
Nothing will change my mind as to the senselessness and pain at seeing such destruction of life and property, although this pain is nothing compared to what is being experienced by the people of Gaza themselves, something which, I expect and fear, will be relived and remembered for generations to come.
Nevertheless, a certain strain of thinking has recently entered my consciousness (and conscience) which has resulted in a lot more peace and less gnashing of teeth.
Here’s a question: Who are the heroes of the Second World War?
Why, the Allies, of course, the armies and peoples of the West and the Soviet Union that took on the imperial designs of Germany and Japan.
The 1940’s was a non-Internet age, a relatively non-connected age, an age where, while some recording took place of events and some filming of bombs falling on cities and towns in Germany existed, it certainly wasn’t like today, where a film crew can arrive within hours and show a horrified world what has just occurred, i.e., wholesale destruction, in any given place.
What would the world have said if footage of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, had been freely available in the days following the firebombing of that city? Dresden was not known to be a serious military strategic target for the Allies but a cultural centre. While there did exist factories that manufactured weapons, it was also a centre for German refugees who were streaming there in large numbers near the end of the war. In a very short time of bombing, thousands of innocent Germans, including these refugees, were dead, burned beyond recognition.
This is what Wikipedia has to say:
The Bombing of Dresden was an attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place in the final months of the Second World War in the European Theatre. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. Between 22,700 and 25,000 people were killed.
This is from the History Learning Website (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/):
Many of the bombs that were dropped were incendiary bombs. These created so much fire that a firestorm developed. The more the city burned, the more oxygen was sucked in – and the greater the firestorm became. It is thought that the temperature peaked at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of roads melted and fleeing people found that their feet were burned as they ran. Some jumped into reservoirs built in the city centre to assist firefighters. However, these were ten feet deep, smooth-sided and had no ladders – many drowned. Very few of those in the city centre survived – those that did provided a vivid picture of what it was like to be in a firestorm.
Dresden was also not an exception. This inhumane, cruel and barbaric action would be inexcusable today and the perpetrators doomed to eternal shame and condemnation and probably seen as war criminals. However, the bombing of innocent civilians is seen by some historical analysts as a necessary evil to convince the leaders of the Third Reich of the impossibility of their dreams of world domination.
We are bombing Germany city by city, and ever more terribly, in order to make it impossible to go on with the war. That is our object. We shall pursue it remorselessly. City by city; Lubeck, Rostock, Cologne, Emden, Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, Duisberg, Hamburg – and the list will grow longer and longer.
- Pamphlet dropped on Germany during influence operations, Summer 1942
What about the nuclear bombs which flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I have read that the number of immediate dead in these two cities totaled between 150,000-240,000 people with many more to come in the weeks and months ahead. The single most destructive bombing raid ever was the firebombing of Tokyo by the Americans in March 1945, with over 125,000 killed. Historians say that without this sickening destruction, the Japanese government would have continued fighting, never letting up, leading up to even a higher death toll of both Americans and Japanese if a planned invasion of Japan were to take place.
Bodies of the dead following the firebombing of Tokyo
You might say that present-day Palestinians are different from the Germans and Japanese of 70 years ago.
My feeling is that, if the Gazan people were ever to decide to go the route of peace, i.e. to say no to the stockpiling of rockets, no to the building of tunnels, no to the sending of rockets into Israel, no to the nonstop demonizing of their neighbours to the north, that peace between these two societies would become not only a possibility, but a probability. War, as hinted above, creates monsters even out of those on the ‘good’ side. There is enough blame to be spread on both sides in every war, but one side is usually the instigator, as in the case of WWII and the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Another thought, this one esoteric and admittedly difficult to swallow, is the idea that every government is the innocent reflection of the consciousness of its people. This concept helps to explain why, when governments change, either democratically or otherwise, the new government often begins to eventually look a lot like the old one it has replaced, despite the initial rhetoric promising otherwise. Why? Because the consciousness of the people in that particular territory hasn’t really changed.
And when, due to the evolution of society, the collective consciousness of society has risen, either the ruling government or a new one will inevitably begin to reflect that change in consciousness and act in a more enlightened manner as a result.
Find me a militaristic, aggressive government ruling a basically peaceful, happy population. It won’t happen. This might seem like a stretch for some, but peace in the world ultimately comes down to peace in the individual, the unit of society (see? And you thought you had no power to change the world!).
Remember the story in the Bible? The one where Abraham is trying to convince God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? God eventually answers Abraham’s pleading with the condition that if Moses can find just ten righteous people living in those cities that he will spare them the destruction they deserve.
At this point, for the sake of this argument, let’s define the word “righteous” a certain way: “Righteous” here means that an individual possesses the ability to regularly tap into Pure Consciousness, the Absolute, the source of peace and unity within (and without), and radiate those qualities into the environment. It’s not the usual understanding of the word, where a righteous person might be seen as very moral or wise in book-learning. A “Godly” person is more akin to the older understanding of the word “mystic”, someone who is capable of contacting the Divine and one who helps initiate the spreading of Divine waves or energy into the surrounding world.
I know that it’s all sounds very ‘mystical’, but the truth is that we are all connected on some deep level, in the same way that all the waves of the ocean are connected to their source: the silent, unbounded ocean. Creating a tidal wave of harmony and bliss in the ocean of consciousness which comes from direct experience of the unbounded ocean of inner harmony and bliss can result in a corresponding tidal wave of positive energy and peace that spreads into world around us, even when there are only a few such individuals residing in any given place (it has that strong an effect..). A quantum physicist might understand how a wave effect from a very deep subatomic level is felt everywhere in the Universe at once.
People, then, are not that innocent after all. Nature is very flexible, but when individual stresses continually build up in a society, it eventually snaps, and war and other conflicts inevitably break out. When it comes to out-and-out war, stress is released in the most deadly and destructive and tragic manner possible and when it is finally dissipated, by war’s end, solutions to the problems between the warring factions are more likely to appear, and disagreements between the different sides disappear (if only temporarily, until lack of contact with inner bliss results in more stress and more conflict to arise again).
What is missing then, between warring factions, are not superficial solutions to do this or to do that, or to take this or that approach. When the individuals in any society reflect greater peace of mind the solutions will be there, in any possible number of variations.
We are all a little to blame, then, if there is war in the world.
Let’s all resolve to strive – and follow up this striving with concrete action (like adding the practice of meditation to our daily lives) – to become one of ‘the ten’.