Agony of the Past and Ecstasy of the Future: War or Peace, Welcome 2024

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 1 Jan 2024

Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

 “The Search for the Elusive Peace is striving with patient persistence and perseverance, coupled with realistic agony and expectant ecstasy.  This is indeed the hallmark of the righteous humanity, in its efforts to achieve global, sustainable peace, in the 21st century.” [i]

The Emotions of Agony and Ecstasy in a reverberating Circuit
Photo Top: Emotions of Supreme Agony:  Death and Destruction in Gaza, as an Israeli Air Attack annihilates a family of eight Palestinians, in a single drone attack, seen here at their funerals, according to Islamic tradition. In most cases, relatives are unable to retrieve, from the rubble, the bodies and body parts of their loved ones, the deceased civilians, in view of sniper fire and incessant bombings, by Israel.
Photo Bottom: Israeli civilians, Doron Asher, together with her daughters Raz and Aviv, after their release in the hostage exchange by Hamas, on 24 Nov 2023 displaying Supreme Ecstasy, as they land in a Israeli army helicopter.
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces

The Current Dichotomy of Agony and Ecstasy, with Resultant Peace Disruption

This paper, follows Part 7, in the series on the “Forgotten”,[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7] and highlights the change in the Gregorian calendar from 2023 to 2024.  It is primarily meant to inspire thoughtful reflection in the readers of Transcend Media Journal that the time has come to remind ourselves of the mistakes made by the collective humanity and the resultant agony as generated by the events of the year that is leaving us with indelible scars of malfunctioning of humanity, as well as actively destroying the principles of ensuring sustainable, personal, societal, community and global peace. We, as supposedly civilised humanity, cannot simply forget the violence of the past year and pretend not to acknowledge it, as it does not concern us, nor does it have an impact on our humanitarian values, which we proudly espouse to uphold, as individual “Peace Ambassadors” and supposed activists as “Propagators of Sustainable Peace”. The paper also summarises some of the regional and global agony experienced by oppressed communities. This is especially so especially in the minority, sectors, as well as the developing nations, who are deprived of an opportunity of living their long lost dreams for their infants, children and minors, whose lives have either being prematurely terminated by agony generating forces of persecution, or destroyed from the prospects of achieving a bright future, by being permanently maimed psychologically, emotionally, as well as physically, by the ongoing conflict, terror and uncertainty of the future.  In this malicious, toxic environment, the future trees of humanity are will grow to lead the future, with further agony and no ecstasy, for “deformed tress will produce deformed fruits” in generations to come and “monsters will breed monsters”[8], without fail, noting that agony will result in ongoing community agony, globally.

As the clock tics towards midnight on 31st December 2023, celebrations, of an extravagant nature, stretching from Chatham Island who will be first to welcome 2024, to the traditional wasteful carbon, increasing foot print of the Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks display,  to the dropping of the iconic Crystal ball in Times Square, New York, are all moments of supreme affluent, global community ecstasy.  These are demonstrations of the excesses of the materialistic society, in search of the elusive peace,  dominated by the collective west, at the expense of long periods of agony, due to the conflict, created and supported by the neo-imperialistic west; United States, European Union and Britain, with additional, proverbial “good book entrants” like India, some African states, the greater, very rich Arab Nations, as “choral support to the master conductor, of the warmongering orchestra.

At the same time, as the clock strikes midnight, in the 50 states of United States[9], a few more thousand, innocent civilians will be dismembered by incessant drone bombings in Gaza, by the 51st  state of United States; Israel and the 52nd state; Ukraine, in its bombing of Russia, as “rock solid support”[10] reaffirmed by the Biden administration, financially, psychologically and militarily, over 2023, causing untold misery and civilian agony in these respective “US State” regions.  While, London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Washington and Los Ageles will be celebrating the New Year, 2024, with lavish, ten course dinners, in opulent, fine, white linen dining, the oppressed and occupied Palestinians will not even have water to quench their thirst after being displaced and bombed from Northern Gaza to the supposed safe haven of South Gaza, UN shelters, only to be bombed again by American drones, launched by Israel, in clear violation of the Rome Statute[11] by Israel, with the International Criminal Court, being uniformly abysmal in their silence[12], when Israel is the perpetrator of these crimes against humanity.  The Agony and Ecstasy is indeed most contrasting and will be further heightened during the New Year period.

The Unholy Alliance of Perpetrators of Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity and the Jewish Protesters against the Genocide committed by the combined might of Israel and United States
Top Left:  President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. born 20thNovember, 1942 and was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on 20th January 2021, at the age of 78, being the oldest president of the country.
 Top Right: Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, born on 21st October 1949, in Tel Aviv, Israel, was sworn in for the 6th term as the Prime Minister, on 29th December 2022.
 Photo Middle:  Protesters from the national group Jewish Voice for Peace call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war during rallies as the US Jewish group protests in eight cities for Gaza ceasefire
Report by Kanishka Singh and Hannah Beier, 14 Dec 2023 REUTERS/Hannah Beier
 Photo Bottom:  Protesters from the national group Jewish Voice for Peace call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war during rallies across the U.S. marking the 8th night of Hanukkah as they block a highway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 14, 2023.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Hannah Beier
President Biden, once said “Israel could get into a fistfight with this country and we’d still defend” it. That is now clearer than ever.
As reported by Noah Lanard, 22 Dec 2023 in Mother Jones Daily

It is to be noted that the current socio- and geopolitical situations, gobally are a complex combination of ecstasy of the oppresor and agony of the oppressed.  These feelings are analogous to the emotions, most probably experienced in the era of Renaissance[13], by creative Italian artist, Michaelangelo, a renaissance painter, sculptor and architect and polymaths, like Leonado da Vinci and others, of that calibre. The Renaissance was a fervent period of European cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” following the Middle Ages. Generally described as taking place from the 14th entury to the 17th century, Renaissance is a French word meaning “rebirth.” It refers to a period in European civilisation which was marked by a revival of Classical learning and wisdom. This was an era of contrasting emotions of ecstasy and agony.

The Ecstasy of Michaelangelo Buonarroti’s Completed Renaissance Art Fresco on the Altar Wall of the Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo’s engagement with the Sistine Chapel ceiling and later the Last Judgment was commissioned by Pope Julius II (reigned 1503–1513). Pope Julius II initially commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the chapel, a project that took approximately four years to complete (1508-1512). Later, after the death of Pope Clement VII, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Paul III to paint the Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, a project completed between 1536 and 1541.

 Illustrative examples of Ecstasy and Agony from Antiquity to the Present.

  1. The sequential Agony and Ecstasy of Michelangelo Buonarroti[14], as depicted in a biographical novel by Irving Stone in 1961 and filmed into a big budget epic piece of Hollywood cinematography, directed by Carol Reed in 1965[15]. It focuses specifically on his time in Rome painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel under commission from Pope Julius II.  The book illustrates the tensions between Michelangelo and the Pope over the artistic direction and speed of the arduous work. Michelangelo struggles with doubt and depression as he labours long and hard on this massive project, painted while laying on his back, on a wooden scaffold, reaching up to the high ceiling of the Vatican, in the Sistine Chapel. He fights with the Pope who wants him to hurry up, while Michelangelo strives for perfection, as he covers the ceiling in frescoes of Biblical scenes. Their relationship is contentious but ultimately one of mutual respect.  In the end, Michelangelo completes his masterful work on the chapel ceiling, now considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of all time. The film dramatises his personal sacrifices and intense dedication to his creative vision and art, an excellent example of contrasting agony with ecstasy, at a personal level. It is to be noted that the Sistine Chapel, including both the ceiling and the Last Judgment, was opened to the public for viewing in the late 16th   Specifically, it was opened to the public during the pontificate of Pope Clement VIII, who reigned from 1592 to 1605. While an exact date within those years might be harder to pinpoint, it was during his papacy that the general public was allowed access to admire Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoes, with unbridled ecstasy for Michaelangelo, the Papacy as well as the plebeian, general public. The key timeline regarding Michelangelo’s work on the breathtaking frescoes within the Sistine Chapel:
  • He spent 4 years painting the iconic ceiling frescoes, commencing in 1508 at the age of 33, and completing the ceiling in 1512 when it was first unveiled to the public.
  • It was over 20 years later in 1536, when Michelangelo was 61, that he began work on the massive Last Judgment fresco filling the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
  • He worked diligently on this huge painting until finally completing the Last Judgement in 1541 when he was 66 years old.
  • So around 4 years for the ceiling, 5 years years for the altar wall Last Judgment.
  • Not long after Michelangelo put the finishing touches on his Last Judgement and saw it in place, the entire decorated Sistine Chapel was opened to the public to view both these frescoes back-to-back by 1541.

Even today, the frescoes strike awe and ecstasy, in all who see these magnificent paintings, created nearly five centuries ago, manually, mostly forgetting the agony that Buonarroti experieced during this odyssey of creating the giant frescoes.

 

  1. Agony:
  • The agony of Socrates as he was forced to drink hemlock and die for allegedly corrupting the minds of young Athenians (399 BC)
  • The agony of Jesus as he was crucified on the cross, suffering tremendous physical pain and abandonment (around 30 AD)
  • The agony of women dying in childbirth throughout history, including the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan of India, in whose memory thevTaj Mahal was built of white marble on the banks of River Jummna in Agra, India
  • The agony of public figures like Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, who was publicly executed on charges of treason and adultery, orchestrated by Oliver Cromwell.
  • The agony of African slaves captured and separated from their families, like those on ships during the peak of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1700s from Africa. Some were sold into slavery by their own chiefs, who had evil desires on the wives of their subjects.
  • The agony of Scott, who had reached the South Pole on January 17, well after Amundsen, but on a difficult return journey he and all his men perished.
  • The agony of the 1500 passengers who perished on the Titanic, when it sank.
  • The agony of civilians suffering in wars like the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the 1990s
  • The agony of Muammar Gadaffi, at his summary execution in Libya, in a gutter, by a common rebel.
  • The agony of cancer patients undergoing painful experimental treatments today in hopes of a cure
  • The profound agony of the 21000 Palestinians, dismembered by Israeli army in drone attacks.
  1. Ecstasy:
  • The ecstasy some might have felt during the height of the Roman empire, when art, poetry, engineering marvels, and relative peace prevailed (100 AD – 200 AD)
  • The ecstasy Michelangelo likely felt unveiling the just-finished Sistine Chapel ceiling to the public for the first time in 1512
  • The ecstasy of early Antarctic explorer the Norwegian Roald Amundsen when first setting eyes on untouched, majestic landscapes in the 1911. Amundsen set out with 4 companions, 52 dogs, and 4 sledges on October 19, 1911, and, after encountering good weather, arrived at the South Pole on December 14. The explorers recorded scientific data at the pole before beginning the return journey on December 17, and they safely reached their base at the Bay of Whales on January 25, 1912.
  • The ecstasy of Ballard in dicovering the remains of the Titanic, where it lay in three sections after sinking on 15th April 2012after hitting an iceberg on April 14th.
  • The ecstasy of crowds celebrating V-E Day marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 after years of war
  • The ecstasy of scientists and engineers at NASA during the first Moon Landing in July 1969
  • The ecstasy of musicians like the Beatles after completing their iconic Abbey Road album, considered one of their creative peaks

The author has attempted to provide a mix of political, cultural, scientific, and personal examples of the highs and lows of the human experience from different eras, to illustrate the practical examples of Agony and Ecstasy over a period of time in history of humanity.

The Neurophysiology of agony and ecstasy in the human brain and neuroanatomical sites of experiencing these emotions.[16]

The author is of an opinon that it is relevant to briefly discuss the neurphysiological and neuroanatomical aspects of Agony and Ecstasy in the human brain, in order to illustrate how,  what is the agony of one human, is the ecstasy of another, depending on cultural, nuturing, religious and socio-political interactions, as observed in global leaders and others, in positions of power throughout history, as well as in the 21st century, hallmarked by global belligerence.

Agony: Agony or extreme physical or emotional distress is processed in various parts of the brain including –

  • The Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) – plays a role in processing physical pain as well as social distress or grief. Studies show it is very active during agony.
  • The Insula – processes both painful sensations as well as emotions. Has been seen to activate strongly during agony or trauma.
  • The Amygdala – involved in emotional processing and fear conditioning. Amygdala activation is often seen in PTSD patients who have undergone trauma/agony.

Ecstasy: In contrast, ecstasy or intense rapturous bliss involves different neural circuits like:

  • The Nucleus Accumbens – integral in reward and pleasure processing. Releases dopamine during ecstasy or climax.
  • The Orbitofrontal Cortex (OFC) – involved in decision making and encoding value. Activated strongly during religious ecstasy.
  • The Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) – contains dopamine neurons that provide input to Nucleus Accumbens and OFC during euphoria.

The complex interplay between areas like the prefrontal cortex, reward circuits, and emotional processing regions gives rise to both excruciating agony as well as intense ecstatic bliss within the human brain. The specific sites activated differ but often show opposite patterns of activation, coupled with inhibition, as in sages and mystics, or disinhibition as observed in intoixicated, inebriated human, especially during the festive season, as well as in aberrant human,such as psychopaths, mass murderers and serial rapists as well as serial killers. It also encompasses individual committing filicides, patricides, fraticides, and genocides, like Hitler and Benjamin Netanhayu together with Jo Biden, who is complicit in the genocide of the Palestinians, executed by Israel.

There are some interesting connections to be drawn between Saturnalia[17] (a festival of revelry in ancient Rome) and how a single person or community might experience both agony and ecstasy during the modern New Year’s celebrations: In ancient Roman times, Saturnalia was the period of feasting, gambling, gift giving, and general public joy coming right before the Winter Solstice. There were huge banquets, celebrations of light overcoming darkness, role reversals between master and slave, and a general atmosphere of ecstasy in Roman society. Poets like Catullus and Seneca the Younger described the wild partying, indulgences, and blissful excess of Saturnalia celebrations. In a similar way, New Year’s today can have a sort of Bacchanalian atmosphere, full of parties, overindulgence in food and drink, gaiety and hope looking forward to the clean slate of a new year. There is an ecstasy in crowding into Times Square or celebrating with friends as the seconds count down and confetti falls at midnight.  However, at the individual level, many people also experience agony amidst the communal festivities. A single person remembering loved ones lost or agonizing over goals not achieved that past year while surrounded by euphoric partygoers grinning with shiny top hats and blow horns. The lonely, the anxious, the depressed still suffering internally even during these “best of days” celebrated in a society writ large. This was likely true in ancient times, as well as today. In effect, both agony and ecstasy can permeate communities and individuals during these seasonal celebrations, perhaps linked metaphorically to the interplay of light and darkness ingrained into winter solstice rituals across cultures and societies.  It is important to present some definitions for terms used, along with historical examples in antiquity and modern times:

  1. Bacchanalian
  • Definition: Of or related to uninhibited festivities, frequently involving excessive drinking and indulgence in sensual pleasures. Comes from Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and mystical ecstasy.
  • Antiquity example: The Bacchanalia festivals of ancient Rome involved frenzied dancing, wine-induced reveries, and disinhibited sexual activity among many participants.
  • Modern times example: Mardi Gras and Carnivale involve Bacchanalian elements – colorful parades, uninhibited costumes and dancing, drinking, and overall festive abandon.
  1. Agony
  • Definition: Extreme physical suffering, distress, or anguish; unbearable pain or grief.
  • Antiquity example: Crucifixion as punishment in ancient Rome, as endured by Jesus in Judea, involved excruciating agony – nails piercing limbs, immobilization causing cramps and difficulty breathing over hours/days.
  • Contemporary times example: Patients going through withdrawal from heroin or other addictive opiates endure awful agony – muscle spasms, vomiting, high fever, and profound depression.
  1. Ecstasy
  • Definition: An intense feeling of delight, rapturous joy; a state of euphoria or elation.
  • Antiquity example: Frenzied rituals at ancient Grecian and Roman temples where priests and supplicants prayed themselves into mystical ecstasy, feeling connected with gods and spirits.
  • Contemporary times example: Music festival crowds experiencing almost trance-like, communal ecstasy – loosing themselves in dance, music’s vibrations, and synthesia with those around them

The neurophysiological processes in the human brain, reverts to primitive behavioural function, more so in some than in others, as our primitive primal impulses are always trying to overide our rational thinking, judgement and actions. Hence, tyrants and dictators like Genghis Khan, Adolph itler, Adolph Mengele, Saddam Hussein, Burmese Military Leaders, Benjamin Netanhayu[18] and others, like US president, George W. Bush[19], all of whom have caused significant peace disruptions, have experienced Ecstasy in causing and secondly actually watching the suffering of fellow humans, with fiendish delight and supreme pleasure, over different historical eras.  The question often raised is that is there any iota of AGONY, associated with such brutal activities, of abysmal demeanment and annihliation of thousands of fellow humans, even during the present, presumed civilised times of the 21st century?

Unfortunately throughout history, many tyrants and oppressive regimes have indeed inflicted immense suffering on others, while simultaneously experiencing apparent ecstasy and delusions of impunity in doing so.  There is substantial evidence that many infamous dictators did appear to revel in observing agony they caused:

  • Genghis Khan[20] – Seemed to relish conquest, slaughter, the agony of enemies burning cities to the ground. Felt unbridled ecstasy with ultimate power over life and death.
  • Adolph Hitler [21]– Was described as almost euphoric over footages of bombing civilian targets and death camps exterminating Jewish people during the Holocaust.
  • Josef Mengele [22]– “the Angel of Death, as appropriately nicknamed. Showed a detached fascination and perverse ecstasy carrying out barbaric experiments on Auschwitz prisoners, including children, with no regard for their agony. He specialised in experimenting on twins and murdering them in horrendous research.
  • Saddam Hussein [23]– Reportedly remained jubilant and defiant amidst mass torture and killings he ordered against dissenters in Iraq.
  • Idi Amin[24], fed his dissenters to corocdiles, while he watched with great pleasure.
  • The security apparatus of the former, pre 1994, nationlist, White, minority government practised such brutal atrocities, on political dissenters, even mudering them and throeing their bodies into crocodile infested rivers in South Africa, at the height of its oppression of the majority Black South African, in their own land, which they occupied by conniving and force, during imperial colonialism.[25],[26],[27],[28].
  • Bashar al Assad killing thousand of fellow Syrian dissenters in the civil war.[29],[30],[31],

In all likelihood though, deep down most tyrants do experience moments of agony and self-doubt about their actions that they desperately supress. Ecstasy covers up profound emptiness. But there are still horrifying exceptions that feel only delight in others’ suffering.

While ecstatic group experiences can have positive bonding elements (e.g. festivals, spiritual trances), malignant ecstasy also seems to enable detaching from individual moral responsibility within violent mobs or totalitarian regimes. Understanding these complex human behaviors remains an urgent challenge if we hope to promote lasting justice and peace.

Another aspect is what is the neurophysiology and neuroanatomic pathways, as well as brain structures involved in certain, “aberrant” dictatorial and sadistic humans, compared with “NORMAL” civilised humans, following philosophy of ethical societal conduct?  How human neurobiology relates to peace/violence, suffering, and moral behaviour? There are many facets, but in brief: Neurophysiologically, conflicts between emotional drives and rational cognitive control seem central. When destructive urges overpower empathy, compassion, and impulse control, violence erupts:

  • The amygdala, involved in emotions/aggression can override…
  • Prefrontal region activities like judgment, farsighted planning – the doors to peacemaking

Ecstasy, chemically produced by serotonin/dopamine reward pathways (ventral striatum, nucleus accumbens, VTA etc) may link to nonviolence and harmony. But also be co-opted for the malignant “ecstasies” of violence.

Agony pathways involving pain centers (e.g. ACC), the insula, humiliation of social rejection (dACC, vStr) may ultimately motivate peace-building as agony’s unbearability sparks reform.

Overall, “normal civilized conduct” relies on somewhat precarious cooperation between multiple brain systems – empathy, rationality over zealotry, an openness allowing one to envision peace and agonize properly over harms rather than denigrate the “other.” Our neuroplastic capacities to strengthen pro-social cooperation require supportive cultural ecosystems. Without those, even “normal” brains risk malignant darkness spreading. In essence, peace arises from skillful tending of gardens growing rational, compassionate neural workings. Agony and ecstasy both can cultivate those fragile flowers, or sabotage their bloom, poetically described. This touches on much, needing more research and wise, collective action. There is a paradox; how individuals who courageously propagate peace at one point, risk transforming later into disruptors of that same peace? The author cannot pretend to fully comprehend all the complex psychological and neurobiological drivers. However, a few hypotheses that may have relevance: Peacemakers like Gandhi, Mandela, Tutu seem deeply rooted in compassion pathways, self-transcending values, and rational nonviolent strategy – critical prefrontal cortex faculties that can temper reactive anger/fear. Prolonged hardship likely strengthened their resilience and commitment.  However, the tremendous stress of leadership could strain even robust neurocognitive control systems over time. Power and isolation are also intoxicants that erode empathy. Trauma or health issues may have impacted mood regulation in ways that weakened Abiy Ahmed’s[32], once peace-oriented outlook into more aggressive, paranoid emotion-driven decisions. Additionally, groupthink dynamics and outgroup prejudice tendencies can corrupt even dedicated peace leadership as the pressures of expediency push them to dark places where cruelty gets normalized against some reviled “enemy”. In summary, centering peace likely relies on cultivating individual/collective habits to grow balanced emotional-cognitive harmony that can endure strain. Understanding risk factors like trauma, isolation, ingroup conformity that can erode those habits in anyone remains critical work for prevention. As Gandhi[33] noted, peace is an ever-ascending process, not a destination. Lapses will happen, but through nonviolent resistance we can lovingly uplift each other back to humanity’s noblest calling.

It would be correct to conclude that the BRAINS of enlightened humans like Rishis, mystics  and Shamans are functioning constantly at a level of inhibition of primitive, reptilian brain[34] impulses, controlling their primal human desires, in contrast to the brains of nefarious and Peace Disruptor brains as well as those of substance abusers and alcoholics, who are functioning in a state of disinhibition of brain impulses, resulting in an overt display of behaviour and attitudes of the “hunter-gatherer ancestors of humans”?  Studies of long-term meditators and spiritual adepts like Rishis, shamans, and other enlightened humans do show unique neurological patterns compared to average populations:

  • Greater activation in prefrontal regions linked to emotional regulation, impulse control, big picture thinking – keys to overruling primitive drives.
  • Thicker gray matter and blood flow in areas related to self-awareness, introspection, prosocial sentiments – the seat of inhibition.
  • Reduced fight-flight-freeze triggers from amygdala, less baseline stress signaling. Marks of reptilian calm.
  • Greater coherence between far-flung regions – communication highways enabling holistic wisdom.

In contrast, those prone to violence, addictions, impulses display the inverse – essentially a chronic disinhibition between higher vs primitive brain areas:

  • Reduced connectivity with moral reasoning areas but hyperconnectivity to sub cortex fear-reward loops.
  • Atrophied control circuits unable to regulate provocation signals from amygdala, hormones.

In summary, enlightened brains cultivate interconnectivity supporting inhibition, regulation and hence nonviolence and compassion. While afflicted brains drift towards isolated regions and disinhibited primal dominance, until social support or therapy restores balance. This neuroplastic capacity for recovery is the hope we, as humans, always retain!  Religious fanaticism and nationalistic fevour can overide such disinhibition in the non-spiritual, but outwardly religious person.[35]   The coexistence of outward “normalcy” with inner psychopathic cruelty, as exhibited in Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, remains difficult for the average conscience to fathom or reconcile. A few hypotheses that may explain this paradox:  Firstly, the human capacity for dissociation and compartmentalization can lead to stark splits – where caring behaviors get cordoned psychologically from avenues of callous violence towards the dehumanized “other”. Groupthink conformity pressures also breed willful blindness, called mob mentality and hysteria, as demonstrated in the French Revolution[36] and nationalised indoctrination.  However, in certain personalities like Mengele, neurological hardwiring defects in areas governing empathy, compassion, self-awareness may already be present since childhood, alongside overactivated aggression pathways. Their inherent affective imbalance leads them to subconsciously seek environments that normalize their deviance. This is very distinct from temporary compressions of morality that can happen in extreme contexts like wars, mobs.  True psychopathy manifests more enduring neurocognitive deficiencies that gain expression under totalitarian regimes that actually applaud lack of emotional connection and unrestrained scientific curiosity devoid of ethical constraints.  In essence, even baseline human nature harbours shadow tendencies requiring constant vigilance. But uniquely malformed personalities and their intersection with cultures of cruelty can spawn especially monstrous manifestations that fulfill mutually dark purposes. The vigilance and light thus need to be extraordinary to restrain that perfect storm. The stakes here are profoundly consequential and comments are invited from readers on the author’s personal perspectives, which may be biased, as a practising medical doctor.  The author will be elaborating on this hypothesis in further publications in the future.

The Emotions of experiential Agony and Ecstasy, in similar contexts.
 Photo Top:  Shackleton and five others setting out for South Georgia in the James Caird. They crossed 750 miles of polar seas to raise the alarm and eventually rescue the crew of the polar expedition ship, Endurance, trpeed and crushed in dense polar ice pack for monthd.
Photograph Credit: © Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
 Photo Bottom:  The first man to reach the South Pole; Norwegian Roald Amundsen raise the Norwegian flag on arrival at the South Pole in a moment of supreme Ecstasy

The time has come, and it is now, for the collective wisdom of giants of Peace like Professor Galtung, to be effected into practice, noting the ever escalating war in Gaza, Occupied Territories, the bombing of Iranian armed groups, in Iraq, by United States, the bombing of tankers in the Red Sea and Bay of Bengal by the Houti military from Yemen, the huge escalation of aggression by Ukraine, with the bombing of Feodosia, a port city on the Black Sea, in Crimea, the festering conflict in Gilgit and Baltistan, as well as the drug wars in Afghanistan, the ongoing destruction of Amazon forests in Latin America by drug cartels, the shootings in Nigeria and Prague, the ongoing civil war in Sudan, a device exploding near the Israel embassy in New Delhi, India on 26th December, 2023, the killing of a senior, high ranking, Iranian General in the neighbourhood of Damascus, by Israel, on 25th  December, and numerous other conflict hotspots, as well as military association and support from United States, Britain[37] and European Union[38], creating billions in profits for the western military, industrial giants[39], resulting in a win-win situation for these orchestrators and perpetuators of regional warfare. In addition, Pentagon approves massive $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel.[40] In fact, the growing, vociferous protests, across eight cities in the United States, by Jewish groups, could seriously jeopardise the possiblity of President Joseph Biden being relected for a second presidential term in the 2024, national elections.[41]

 

The Bottom Line is, as the clock strikes midnight on 31st December 2023 and the calendar page turns, as the entire humanity stands on the cusp of a new year, the duality of human existence becomes more pronounced than ever, with severely contrasting, agony and ecstasy.  The Agony of the poor, dispossessed, oppressed, occupied, demeaned, maimed, assassinated and dismembered, not even afforded an opportunity for a traditional, respectful burial according to the religious rights of the nameless deceased, interred in what used to be bustling streets, populated by humanity, full of hopes and dreams, all but shattered by Biden, Netanyahu and Luciferous colleagues[42],[43] of the collective west, solely for the pleasure of Israel achieving ecstasy, under the pompous and eternally arrogant leader of Israel.  Our past is a litany of trials, tribulations, and severe agony, a reminder of the struggles the collective humanity has faced and the lessons we all have learnt. Yet, as we usher in 2024, the promise of the future, while bedecked with grief, misery, suffering of untold proportions and ongoing agony, it however beckons with the allure of possibilities, innovations, and a fresh start. This publication has illustrated and delves deeply into the dichotomy of our shared history, examining the shadows of conflict that loom large and the extremely miniscule rays of hope that pierce through, on rare occasions, which are progressively becoming dimmer, as the days go , with no signs of any resolution of the collective suffering of humanity, noting the promise of an ongoing war  of many months in Gaza, as categorically stated by Benjamin Netanyahu, as well  the military chief of the Israeli Army, has said: “The war will go on for many months and we will employ different methods to maintain our achievements for a long time,” Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi [44]told reporters in a televised statement on the Gaza border.[45]   At this critical juncture, we as “Peace Propagators, need to ponder the pressing question: will the coming year be marked by the horrors of war or the serenity of peace? All of us, the likeminded cohort of “Peacers”, need to embark on this introspective journey, as we navigate the complexities of our world, seeking a path that leads to a brighter, more harmonious future.  This elusive utopian future, we, collectively need to ensure, that in the future, humanity does not continue incessantly to repeat the mistakes of mega Peace Disruptions of the past and in particular those of 2023, globally, to effect sustainable and lasting peace in the different geo-politically explosive “hot spots” of the world.

In concluding, the author extends his best wishes to the Transcend Media Family, for a peaceful, happy, heathy, safe and prosperous New Year, ahead, full of peaceful blessing for all members of the humanity and supplicate for wise guidance to prevail in the minds of the perpetrators of Peace Disruption, with resultant agony of the recipients of their ongoing tyranny.  Furthermore, once again the author cautions the need for a disciplined dietary discretion and medical compliance which are extremely important in the community, who have aberrant lifestyle generated, Non-Communicable Diseases[46],[47],[48],[49] and complications, thereof which have a higher prevalence during the Festive Seasons of different cultural and religious groups, as statistically documented [50],[51],[52].

“Agony and Agony, Nothing but Agony, with no prospects of any Ecstasy” for the oppressed Palestinians, due to sustained Israeli Tyranny against Palestinian civilians, supported by the Biden Administration.
Photo Top:  The Depiction of Israel’s ongoing Bombing of Civilian targets killing 21000, Palestinians in Gaza, since 7 Oct 2023. By ZAPIRO, the South African Cartoonist.
Image Credit: Daily Maverick Newsletter, South Africa, 28th December 2023.
 Photo Bottom: A Palestinian father holds the body of his dead child, as he prepares him for burial, wrapped in traditional white shroud, following his death in Israeli Bombings of Gaza and the ongoing Reign of Terror, in violation of Rome Statute, in the Occupied Territories, October 2023. This war is to last “for many months, in the New Year, as confirmed by Israeli Prime Minister and Chief of Defence.
Photo Credit: The New York Times

References:

[i] Personal quote by author, December 2023

[1] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-forgotten-part-1-kashmir-heaven-on-earth-turned-hell-on-earth-by-21st-century-india/

[2] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-forgotten-part-2-the-uyghurs-of-xinjiang-from-sinicization-to-genocide/

[3] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-3-buddhist-directed-ethnic-cleansing-genocide-of-rohingyas-in-myanmar/

[4] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/08/the-children-of-the-gods-of-war-part-1/

[5] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-4-president-bashar-al-assad-syrian-civil-war-chief-peace-disruptor/

[6] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-5-the-first-nations-indigenous-tribes-of-canada/

[7] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-6-the-pillars-of-peace-propagators-from-yajnavalkya-in-antiquity-to-johan-galtung-today/

[8] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/09/monsters-breed-monsters-the-impact-of-systemic-peace-disruption-on-children-in-violent-conflict-situations/

[9] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/photos/50-us-states-gallery#:~:text=Here’s%20a%20virtual%20tour%20of,many%20places%20Americans%20call%20home.

[10] https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/%E2%80%9Clower-than-any-other-president%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-bidens-approval-ratings-hit-rock-bottom-amidst-support-for-israel/ss-AA1jAIjU

[11] https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/RS-Eng.pdf

[12] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/06/international-criminal-court-advancing-global-injustice-unaccountability-and-criminal-agenda-against-guardians-of-peace/

[13] https://www.history.com/topics/renaissance/renaissance#:~:text=The%20Renaissance%20was%20a%20fervent%20period%20of%20European,the%20rediscovery%20of%20classical%20philosophy%2C%20literature%20and%20art.

[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Agony_and_the_Ecstasy_%28film%29

[15] https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-film-the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-by-carol-reed/

[16] https://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/jnp.14.2.125

[17] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/01/the-peace-at-saturnalia-part-1/

[18] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/06/peace-disruption-part-2-palestines-killing-fields-the-end-must-go-on/

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush#:~:text=Amid%20his%20unpopularity%2C%20the%20Democrats,surge%20of%20troops%20in%20Iraq.

[20] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Genghis-Khan

[21] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Hitler

[22] https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/josef-mengele

[23] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saddam-Hussein

[24] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Idi-Amin

[25] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/08/the-martyrs-of-apartheid-in-pre-1994-south-africa-imam-abdullah-haron-cape-town-part-4/

[26] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/07/the-martyrs-of-apartheid-in-pre-1994-south-africa-steve-biko-part-3/

[27] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/07/the-martyrs-of-apartheid-in-pre-1994-south-africa-dr-neil-hudson-aggett-part-2/

[28] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/07/the-martyrs-of-apartheid-in-pre-1994-south-africa-ahmed-timol-part-1/

[29] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/08/the-children-of-the-gods-of-war-part-1/

[30] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/09/the-children-of-the-gods-of-war-part-3-the-lost-innocence-of-a-generation-of-syrian-children/

[31] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-4-president-bashar-al-assad-syrian-civil-war-chief-peace-disruptor/

[32] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiy_Ahmed

[33] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi

[34] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/02/gabriel-of-peace-or-lucifer-of-war-generative-artificial-intelligence/

[35] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/06/spirituality-negation-in-religions-a-catalyst-for-global-peace-disruption/

[36] https://www.britannica.com/event/French-Revolution

[37] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/13/british-backing-israel-unbearable-status-quo-palestinians

[38] https://www.eeas.europa.eu/israel/european-union-and-israel_en?s=200

[39] https://www.commondreams.org/news/us-weapons-to-israel

[40] https://www.bing.com/search?q=Gaza+war+creating+billions+in+profits+for+the+western+military+industrial+giants&qs=n&form=QBRE&msbsrank=0_1__0&sp=-1&lq=1&pq=gaza+war+creating+billions+in+profits+for+the+western+military+industrial+giants&sc=1-80&sk=&cvid=3DCEEA7C8360424FADCFD739B52362AA&ghsh=0&ghacc=0&ghpl=#:~:text=U.S.%20weapon%20%E2%80%A6-,EXPLORE%20FURTHER,Pentagon%20approves%20massive%20%241.9%20billion%20arms%20sale%20to%20Israel,-timesofisrael.com

[41] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-jewish-group-protests-eight-cities-gaza-ceasefire-2023-12-15/

[42] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/05/peace-disruption-multipronged-treatment-for-this-cancerous-malady/

[43] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/02/apocalypse-the-end-of-the-current-humanoid-civilisation-on-earth-armageddon-guaranteed/

[44] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herzi_Halevi

[45] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-war-will-go-months-israels-military-chief-says-2023-12-26/#:~:text=%22The%20war%20will%20go%20on,statement%20on%20the%20Gaza%20border.

[46] https://scholar.google.co.za/scholar?q=non+communicable+diseases&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

[47] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2021/08/live-to-eat-and-eat-to-die/

[48] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2021/04/climate-crisis-diet-obesity-covid-19-eat-correctly-save-the-planet-and-self/

[49] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2021/04/the-new-pandemic-of-disease-and-death-global-obesity-2021-in-company-of-covid-19/

[50] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases

[51] https://www.news24.com/citypress/news/why-depression-and-suicide-spike-during-the-festive-season-20221219

[52] https://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/health/diet/the-art-of-staying-healthy-during-the-festive-season-0af9c0d2-2cde-4635-861d-6dc50c72013c

______________________________________________

Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Email: vawda@ukzn.ac.za


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Jan 2024.

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