CULTURE OF WAR MENTALITY: GOOD LOOK AT CHURCHES IN USA

COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 1 Jun 2009

Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.

    Theologians tell us that one of the great differences that exist between God and human beings lies here. God tends to view things objectively, that is, how they are a parte rei without any deception. At the same time, human beings tend to view things subjectively, that is, how they look at the surface only. Besides, God tends to see an object from 360 angles, while human beings tend to see an object from very few angles.

Judgmental Mistakes

    This means that human beings are likely to commit mistakes in their judgment because they fail to see things from every angle conceivable. When mistakes are committed in good faith, that is, with all the good intentions possible, then surmountable problems could follow sooner or later. When mistakes are committed maliciously, that is, with an evil intent, the chances of having things straightened up at one time or another remain a possibility.

    This is so because human beings can always experience remorse of conscience and, as a result, repent and ask for forgiveness. However, those that perform misleading actions in good faith and with the best of intentions are not likely ever to have remorse of conscience. This means their conversion becomes very remote. Hence, misleading actions performed by “good” people might, under some circumstances, lead to confusion and devastation in due time.

    Before we get straight into the heart of the matter, we need to bring to our mind some traditional wise sayings. One of this is: “Not all that glitters is gold.” One Italian proverb says: “Tra il dire e il fare c’e’ in mezzo il mare – Between saying and doing there is an abyss.” And one old Roman saying stated: “Aliud est theoria, aliud est practica – One thing is theory, another thing is practice.” Needless to say, many countries have similar expressions in accordance with their respective cultures. All this sums up to the fact that we cannot judge people accurately by how they look or by what they say.

    When everything is taken into consideration we come to the following fairly accurate conclusion. People in general tend to act in accordance with the culture they have been born and raised into. Hence, in order to comprehend people better and more objectively, that is, the way God sees them eventually, it would be wise on our part to try to understand properly the culture that have permeated them deeply, from the first moment of their existence if possible. This explains why St. Thomas Aquinas insisted with his students that they should use their brains when it comes to explore the sources of problems they encounter.

Getting to the Root of Problems

    This great theologian, who was viewed by posterity as a genius, has even stated that we can comprehend and solve problems simply through common sense. But then he added: “Unfortunately, common sense is very uncommon to find.” In spite of this, we will proceed to do our best to have a look at clergymen in the United States in order to understand what is it they are trying to do. Today, more than ever, they seem to be losing increasingly their influence over their respective congregations as a whole.

    Our purpose is not to pass judgments on them. Far from it! We simply proceed to perform an autopsy and an analysis of their thinking as a whole. Anything that we may detect as misleading is not to be attributed to a mental deficiency and/or lack of adequate education. But it could be well traced to the nation’s culture of war. Let us keep in mind, as stated earlier, that since their first day of existence they were immersed in a culture of war, a culture that views the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars as a necessity.

    They have learned from early childhood that war may prove to be a necessity to “save the democracy and freedom of the nation.” Of course, because American clergymen on the whole do not seem to know anything better, they do tend to believe that the USA really offers its people “democracy” and “freedom.”
What the USA offers its people, by way of tangible reality, is merely a “façade” of both democracy and freedom. How can a nation be termed to have democracy when the natives can seriously seek to be elected to high offices only if they can pour millions of dollars into the news media as to reach the people?

    Besides, how can a nation offer to its people freedom of movement when such people are forbidden to visit a number of countries including their peaceful neighbor Cuba? There were quite a number of peaceful demonstrations in the USA for a variety of reasons, but some of the demonstrators that ended up in jail were those who protested against nuclear weapons and the waging of senseless wars. Among those that ended up in jail were priests and nuns!

    Not long time ago, there was a peaceful demonstration against nuclear weapons and the waging of wars. As a result, quite a few were arrested one of them was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. We may begin to understand here why in a traditional hostile culture, war is viewed as the “Holy Cow.” It seems to be all right in the USA to criticize and demonstrate against the U.S. President and even the U.S. government but not against the “Holy Cow.” This may be due to a variety of reasons.

Seat of Capitalism

    The United States represents the seat of capitalism whose objective is to build an ever-lasting capital. This, of course, would involve policies that are built on the Machiavellian philosophy, commonly known as “the end justifies the means.” In the process toward the achievement of such an end there is no such a thing as ethics or morality. Everything will do even if that were to involve the ruthless destruction of the infrastructure of cities and the brutal massacre of numerous innocent people.

    In the political sphere, there are two major political parties in the USA. They are known as Republicans versus Democrats. Their strategy for elections and their priorities vary immensely so much so that, quite often, they may be considered diametrically opposite. The Democrats try to reach directly as many people as possible to secure their votes. On the other hand, the Republicans tend to concentrate on bringing under their iron-fist control the leaders of influential groups, churches in particular.

    Once this objective is achieved, Republicans will ask the leaders of each group, church leaders in particular, to exhort their congregations to vote for Republicans. Needless to say, they always work on the same strategy commonly known as the problem of abortion. They start by declaring they are “pro-life” Republicans that firmly believe that the human life starts with conception and that, if elected, they would enact a law that would make the unborn a recognized human being that is entitled to all care and protection.

    So far, everything is good because life does start at the first moment of conception. However, the American clergymen never dream of raising such a question: “Judged by their actions, do self-proclaimed pro-life Republicans really believe in the sacredness of life after birth?” Experience has demonstrated that while Democrats in general put top priority on the health care and education of the nations’ citizens, Republicans, on the other hand, tend to put top priority on the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars. Their excuse is always the same: “national defense and security.”

    It is a well known fact that in the USA the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars has become a very lucrative business where big money is made fast and smooth. Needless to say, there should be an explanation as to how members of the US government when first elected they had enough money to virtually make ends meet and then, all of a sudden, then become multi millionaires. The promotion of the said lucrative business seems to be the most credible answer.

“Holy Cow” in Perspective

    Those who attend regular church services, especially during election time, often hear clergymen encourage people to vote for self-proclaimed “pro-life” candidates. In other words, clergymen encourage Americans to vote for those who make the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars as their top priority in the government. In 2004, George W. Bush, a self-proclaimed “pro-life” Republican found himself very low in popularity.

    The possibility of his re-election was considered to be very remote because of his invasion of Iraq that took off mercilessly tens of thousands of lives, and maimed brutally tens of thousands of others who were not only Iraqis but also young Americans. All of this was in addition to creating some two million Iraqi refugees along with the atrocious destruction of the infrastructure of many cities.
So Republicans resorted to the same tactic to have George W. Bush re-elected. They approached leaders of the clergy and asked them to direct their priests or ministers to urge the members of their congregations to vote for “pro-life” Bush!

    We do know Bush was then re-elected. The manufacture and sales of weapons continued to increase with virtual no limit and the endless promotion of struggles and wars had no virtual end in sight. We stated earlier that in the USA, war is viewed as the “Holy Cow.” The very criticism of this “Holy Cow” is viewed as unacceptable. And the clergymen as a whole in the USA are aware of this fact but they really cannot do much about it for a variety of reasons. In the first place, they were brought from early childhood in a culture of war society that attributes its continued safety to the continued promotion of wars.

    Those young Americans that become involved in wars are indoctrinated to believe that they are heroes, real patriots. If this involvement meant simply the wearing of a uniform along with the performing of humanitarian activities for the benefit of all people, that would have been wonderful. But the situation is different. In their military training, they are instructed to kill anything that moves when supposedly they are searching from house to house to apprehend
terrorists, without having any clue as what a terrorist may look like.

    American clergymen, as a whole, constantly talk openly against those politicians who proclaim they are “pro choice,” that is, for letting the individual woman, in consultation with her relatives, friends and even clergymen, to make her own responsible decision. This is often done following serious advices to accept the child or simply give it away for adoption by a caring family. Such clergymen automatically label those politicians who claim to be “pro-choice” to be automatically advocating abortion by all means.

Meaning of Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice

    Let us here give such US clergymen the benefit of doubt in their criticism of self-proclaimed “pro choice” politicians who made it clear that they want to put top priority on the health care and education of the nation’s people. Can such US clergymen continue to receive the benefit of doubt when they advocate the members of their congregation to vote for self-proclaimed “pro life” whose top priority is put not on the health care and education of the nation’s people but, instead, on the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars?

    The American clergymen need to know that self-proclaimed “pro-life” politicians in the USA were responsible for procuring both Pakistan and India with nuclear weapons, two neighboring countries that have a long history of enmity and wars with each other. They were also responsible for procuring so many nations, even some of the poorest countries of Africa, with weapons and war machinery instead of food and medicine for so many unfortunate people of this most abandoned continent by the developed nations.

    In dealing with God’s children everywhere we should share the same identical concern that the heavenly Father reveals. We should do our best moment per moment to provide God’s children everywhere with anything positive and constructive, that is, with the vital necessities of life such as food and medicine as well as an environment free of water and air pollution. All of this would demonstrate our deep respect for basic human rights. We should never resort to anything that is negative and destructive which would include the manufacture and sales of weapons and the waging of wars.

    Let us keep in mind what Pope Benedict XVI has stated not long time ago that “war is never justified under any circumstance whatsoever.” Let us also keep in mind what the Master Teacher of Nazareth said to Peter: “Put the sword away for he who kills by the sword will die by the sword.” In view of this, American clergymen and the rest of the nation should pray God to change their mentality radically, from the culture of war to the culture of peace. This way all Americans may rightly feel they have something constructive to offer to the whole world.

_______________________________

Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – President, International Association of Educators for World Peace – Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Jun 2009.

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