Monday, May 10, 2004

War and the Western Tradition

I was recently listening to a recorded lecture by American Philosopher L. Ron Hubbard in which he described a key difference between the Eastern and Western viewpoints.

When mankind in the northern hemisphere was developing, the people in the East had to contend with a pretty rough environment - desert, barren lands, rugged mountains, freezing winters, monsoons, poor food supply, etc., etc. So they developed a philosophy of endurance. If you could endure you could survive.

A recent example of this was a Chinese man whose boat lost its engine in a storm and drifted out into the Pacific (this was off the coast of California). He was thought to have died. Then after months and months his boat drifted relatively close to the coast of Mexico and he was picked up by the Life Guard. He'd lived by collecting rain water to drink and by catching fish. He had endured.

Mankind in the West developed a different philosophy. They had plentiful game, plenty of shelter and a relatively gentle climate. If you could get close enough to an animal to hit it with a club or a spear or whatever and you hit it hard enough, then you ate. So Western man developed the philosophy of strike an overwhelming blow.

A recent example of this philosophy in action is the Iraq war. The US went in with the idea that all they had to do was strike an overwhelming blow and it would all be over.

The only trouble with the "overwhelming blow" idea is that it may work well when you are hunting animals, but it fails when you are dealing with a country made up of millions of human beings. Following this philosophy to its ultimate conclusion would require that you kill everyone in the country to bring about peace. Not a very desirable outcome.

We must hope that someone in the US Government manages to snap out of this Western tradition of "stike an overwhelming blow" and that they realize how unworkable it actually is.

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