The Final Armistice…

It feels weird reflecting on the way 95 years ago we thought we had finally completed our war to end all wars.  After a conflict so unbelievable gruesome we thought humanity finally had enough.  We thought our blood thirst had finally been quenched, our major differences finally settled, and the desire for sustainable peace finally etched into our hearts.  We created international organizations, renewed our commitments for dialogue and discourse, and ended our practice of secret treaties leading to the domino effect of world war.  In the end, all of these efforts lasted us barely the blink of an eye of real peace.  It was time enough only to catch our breaths, rebuild or nations, and develop the latest of our military technologies.  And now, 95 years later, we still struggle with the same enduring demons of endless war.  While the better angels of our nature may well be sounding the call for a true and lasting peace, most of us find it hard to hear them at the moment.

I find it more than a bit ironic that we use the day we once thought would mark the end of war as a means of honoring our veterans and service members fighting our current endless wars.  While these men and women are no doubt worthy of our respect and I am deeply honored to have served and continue to serve with some of the finest individuals our generation has to offer, I feel that perhaps there may be a better means of marking the day our great-grandparents once believed would mark the end of war.  Sure placing flags in cemeteries, holding parades and ceremonies of remembrance, and celebrating a well-deserved day off from the toil of our day to day working lives is never a bad thing.  Yet by focusing all of our thoughts and our actions on the observance of Armistice/Veterans’ Day rather than the deeper meaning it once has for our world, I feel we might actually be conditioning ourselves to accept the inevitability of our endless struggles.  By using this day simply as a means of thanking our veterans we may be ignoring the larger questions which could lead us to bringing all of them home for good.  And by accepting subconsciously the inevitability of perpetual human conflict, might we be quietly condemning our children to lives filled with more of the same human problems only on a larger and more threatening scale as they meet the other greater forces of these most interesting of human times?

And so, the larger question which I would like to address on this 95th anniversary of our great armistice is simply ‘Is war and violent conflict truly an inevitable condition of the human experience?”  If the answer happens to be “yes”, then what can we do to minimize its effects?  If the answer happens to be “no”, then how do we go about destroying it?  While the question itself may spark a great deal of debate among the intellectuals, academics, policy makers, and professionals of our time, at the operational level the answer appears to be quite insignificant as both responses share such a powerful point of convergence that the path we must take for each is nearly the same.  For remember that it is not the answers that you should seek, but always the questions that lead you in the proper directions…

So regardless of the ultimate answer to our question, what can we do to turn the tables on our current trend of perpetual human conflict?  What further questions must we ask to shed light on our current state of affairs and how can we use them to realize our dreams?  What difficult decisions lie before us and how do we use them to build the world we know in our hearts that our children deserve?  And how do we begin to crack the walls of our current intellectual echo chambers and bring our discourse more fully in line with our dreams of peace?

Of course, it is far beyond the scope of this piece of work and my current intellectual capabilities to offer any type of concrete answers.  But as a man who has spent a considerable amount of his life training for and going to war, I may be able to offer some thoughts, ideas, and possible directions.  For although I cannot change the world over night with my ideas, the only truth I truly hold in my heart is my wish to never burden my children with the task of preparing for endless war as I have borne through all these years.  If the martial skills of my lineage die with me, then I will die a happy man in the knowledge that I did all I could along this crazy, broken, and twisted road that I call my life.  And it is with that great hope for the next generation that I give you these potential directions of thought and action…

As with all intellectual endeavors, you must begin by acknowledging and stating your assumptions.  For this work, mine is simply the firm belief that war is much greater an aspect of human consciousness than the unresolvable human differences which we perceive in this world.  I feel that the root cause of the conflicts in our lives lies not in geopolitics, economic competition, or resource scarcity but within the collective lens though which we view our human experience.  By choosing to look at our world through the lens of fear over love, duality and separateness over unity and connection, and tribe and nation over collective whole we are creating our own enemies and threats within the darkest corners of our own minds and hearts.  We view our “others” as true outsiders who must be dealt with rather than exact copies of ourselves simply living out a different human experience.  And we develop our own wars and conflicts out of the delusional perceived necessity to protect ourselves from the demons we have invited into our reality.

So what path must we take to break this cycle?  What new directions can we travel?  I believe the first step must necessarily lead us to acknowledge the existence of our own inner and collective demons.  We must release ourselves from the burden of fear and gaze into the darkest corners of our human experience with open eyes.  We must open our little book of secrets, pour our skeletons out of the closet, and allow our children and ourselves to view every aspect of our dark and messy history amid the light of day, without judgment or attachment.  While this experience may be quite traumatic and frightening at first, we must only remember that the only demons we find are the ones we brought into existence ourselves.  And as we gave birth to them in our collective consciousness, so can we destroy them…

The next course we must take lies on the path to fully and completely understanding our world and our reality.  Although we exist within and experience this world our entire lives, most of us only hold a superficial understanding of our reality’s inner workings.  Freed from the chains imposed on us by our psychological demons we need to take the time to more fully and completely explore our human experience.  We need to marry our science with our spirituality, our physics with our philosophy, and our arts with our structures of governance and economics.  We need to break our echo chambers of specialization and open them up to a complete discourse on human experience.  And we need to devote our energies towards imagining, operationalizing, and creating the future our children will soon inherit…

And finally, we need to teach ourselves, our friends, and our children to follow the enduring light of love.  Love is a funny word in our society as many of its connotations often imply the very opposite of its deeper meaning.  We use it to identify our feelings of attachment to other people and things.  We identify it with our more lustful feelings and needs for intimacy in the continuation of our species.  And we often throw it around in our times of greatest emotional uncertainty lacking either the lexicon or commitment to adequately explain ourselves.  In its essence however, love is the concept of unity, the resonant frequency of our universe through which all came from a single source regardless of scientific or spiritual beliefs.  Love is the embodiment of that old Mayan saying “In La’Kesh” (I am another you, and you another me).  It is what we might call Christ Consciousness, Nirvana, or Enlightenment, the universal respect for and connection to all things and all conscious beings.  Love is enduring, it is timeless, and it is indeed the most powerful force in this universe.  And so, as we see to remove the effects war from our human consciousness, we need only replace it with the consciousness of love…

Someday I hope that we might learn to see this day of armistice in a new light.  Rather than a day of accepting the permanence of our wars, I hope that we might finally shoulder our burden and begin the work of enduring peace.  And I hope that I may one day earn the privilege of finally putting down my arms and teaching my children the ways of peace.  Though the path may be rough at times, by walking it together there is no limit to the amazing experiences we can have along the way.  Thank you for your time, go with love, find peace in your heart, and I look forward to sharing our final armistice with you.  In Love and In La’Kesh.

Cheers,

Brian

9 NOV 2013, 2300(L), Raeford, NC, USA

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About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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