How does your life help to remove the causes of war?

war banner

Last week while walking with a friend along Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., a banner in front of a Quaker Meeting house stopped us in our tracks. I took the picture above to remember the words: “How does your life help to remove the causes of war?” I think about the people of Crimea, many of who wish to be reunited with their Russian roots, and others who are fearful of Putin’s invasion.

I believe that scarcity is at the root of war and much of human conflict. Scarcity fuels aggression in an ever-exploding world population, and increases the gap between rich and poor. When people feel scarcity of land, water, food, shelter, safety, or spiritual or family connections, they become aggressive, either outwardly or inwardly. Michael Klare, of Hampshire College, writes in his recent book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, that with our world’s natural resources being extracted beyond reach in easier places, the developing world is stretching its grab to the planet’s most remote regions, such as the Arctic, the deep ocean, and even war zones like Afghanistan.

In feeling scarcity, people use aggression to seek abundance in whatever ways they can achieve. It’s a survival strategy dating back to when we lived in caves. Society tells us that those material possessions – a TV in every room, a closet full of clothes, the latest household toy or car – will heal all. Money has become equivalent to God. We worship material wealth and fame, as if the fact of “having it” is worthy of adulation. When suffering physical, emotional or economic scarcity, the result is the same. Human nature becomes aggressive. In the absence of love we seek power. I wonder in what ways Putin suffered as a child?

Power, like money, does not buy love and compassion. Nor does it rid us of the feeling of scarcity. Inner abundance does.

I would add to the question above: How does your life help to remove the causes of war and aggression, and how can you cultivate inner abundance? 

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8 Responses to How does your life help to remove the causes of war?

  1. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, My first comment was deleted, mistakenly. So, I will add “another” comment ( so much to say on the subject ). The WiIliam and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation
    and other philanthropic organizations do make a difference, but the fight and struggle to provide health and education is endless. Those poor children who know all is lost for them…

    • Hi Elaine, I believe your comment was still truncated. Can you send it again? I agree with you that it is an endless “fight” (though I prefer another word like “mandate” because health and education are basic needs, as basic as water and food. Without them, we can’t evolve as a society.

  2. Dear EIleen:

    The lack of sufficient food, warmth, safety… yes, definitely, these are among the key roots of hate and war. However, ignorance, fear of strangers, of the “other” keeps it going, and it becomes a downward spiral. We distrust because we are distrusted. We fear/hate, because we are feared/hated.

    Children hear stories about people they’ve never known, whom their parents and grandparents never really knew, and the stories become “factual” points of reference, anchors for their prejudice, supposed perpetrators of the lack of basic needs that frames their lives.

    Fill their bellies, give them warmth, security, the opportunity for good health, but then let them meet and get to know others beyond their own “tribe.” Once the “other” becomes less strange, less a stranger, it is that much harder to cast him/her/them as an enemy.

    • I agree with your perspective Sally, and appreciate your distinguishing between filling bellies and hearts with loving sustenance, and extending your hands to other “tribes” of communities and diversity to widen the circle of love. Thank you.

  3. Louise Gilbert says:

    Dear Eileen, this post is most meaningful to me because ultimately I believe that I have made the issue of how my life helps to remove the causes of war and conflict central to my own way of being in the world in a peaceable way. At the deepest personal level, having witnessed the negative effect of anger and conflict within my own childhood family, I have investigated the importance of skillful listening of the other in a respectful way, always encouraging dialogue. That is why I am attracted to the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the Buddhist practices of skillful means. In the larger international arena, political aggressiveness such as Putin’s recent Crimean incursion, is downright scary. Yes, you are right to wonder in what ways Putin may have suffered as a child. In his case, he grew up in Soviet society where issues of central control, and yes fear and scarcity were very much prevalent. Love your blog. Your friend, Louise

  4. It is interesting how the outer war and conflict seen in the wider world is often a reflection of our own inner war and conflict. Thanks for bringing this to light Louise. You are sensitive to human suffering because you have known it yourself, and you bring a beautiful light – with humor – (thank God for humor!) to all you encounter. Thank you:)

  5. Re: How does your life remove the causes of war!
    I’d like to add my input in the following two ways.
    I’ve pondered, listened to well-known political analysts and read a lot to try and understand why there are so many places in our world today where poor innocent people are subjected to untold misery, misfortune and horrible suffering because of armed conflicts?
    I can only see two ominous reasons:
    1) Too many military-type arsenals get into the hands of rebels, cruel dictators, and illiterate war lords. That gives them the edge and means to terrorize people, hold the governments hostage and destabilize a nation. Obviously all those deadly weapons are not manufactured by those people. They buy them!! RIGHT? Developed western nations are mass producing those weapons and selling them. I don’t have to name countries here. Isn’t this an unspeakable, repugnant and heinous crime against humanity? Not to mention the billions of dollars that is involved in this gruesome act of terrorism against humanity. Do I need to mention the mind-boggling price tag borne by United States as a result of its over 10 year’s old war in Afghanistan, with so many soldiers and civilians who have lost their lives? And what was the outcome? Is Afghanistan as a country and its people in better shape today? I still see images of a country in ruins, its people struggling desperately in their day to day lives, and living in abject poverty. Just imagine if all that money had been poured in to alleviate misery and poverty in that country through good governance and all that money as aid??
    Then look at the situation in Syria? More than three-year-old conflict has sent a million refugees into Lebanon. Needless to say the most affected are women and children. The stories coming out of there are so ghastly disturbing; one has to be a heartless person to watch them. Here are a couple of them, I recently saw. filed June 2013 Hala and her 5 siblings March 2014
    2) The world as it is now, cannot be policed by one powerful nation. If there was all-encompassing powerful regulatory United Nations governance in which every country of the world regardless of its economic status had a say, I believe that would be much more effective in controlling or reining in any nation that committed crime against humanity. It just is inconceivable to me why the whole world is taking all this crap and remains silent. Sooner or later, these conflicts will engulf the whole world, if the superpowers or the world’s leaders don’t come to their senses. The real survival issues are totally ignored and slipped under the rug by the world’s leaders who must be held responsible for all that suffering.
    Can they not understand the very simple down-to-earth truth?? All of us have only one life to live and we are on this planet for a very brief part of our lives.

  6. Hi Nusrat, You have clearly been reading a lot and I appreciate your passion for making the world a more peaceful place. May you and the lives of those you impact be more peaceful as a result.

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