Newspaper logo  
 
 
  Misplaced Myths and Current Dangers

ANALYSIS:

Misplaced Myths and Current Dangers

by Edna Garte

...the way to fight evil is to maximize your own goodness. Throughout history however, nations have distorted these spiritual ideas into justifications for military crusades.
When I was four years old, my mother and I came across some soldiers on leave who were drunk and behaving aggressively. A little confused, I embarrassed my mother by asking, "Mummy, are those good soldiers or bad soldiers?" I had been taught that good and bad soldiers were fighting a war, and that we believed the good soldiers would win.

Now that I'm a little older, I know that life isn't that simple. Good and bad don't always line themselves up in opposing armies. Destructive forces on opposite sides of a conflict can feed each other, endangering everyone. We need to keep those forces from sending us into a panic that leaves us running to them for shelter. One cure is to look carefully at differences between myth and reality.

Myths often have kernels of truth that inspires people with their values. When they're taken literally, however, they present over-simplified pictures that defeat their own purposes.

There is a dangerous way of thinking about our current foreign policy, which has wrapped itself in an ancient religious belief.

To bring death, crippling injury, and water poisoned with human sewage to thousands of people unnecessarily, in the hope of instituting paradise, is to play God--without God's love, compassion, wisdom and information.

This idea goes back to Zoroaster (6th century BC), an Iranian philosopher who influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In a nutshell, it says that Good and Evil have been in conflict throughout time. God works through the Good, which will finally win out. Paradise then will become universal.

Zoroaster believed the way to fight evil is to maximize your own goodness. Throughout history however, nations have distorted these spiritual ideas into justifications for military crusades.

In relation to Iraq, the myth goes something like this:

The war in Iraq is part of a greater struggle between good and evil. Since the evil ones all serve the same Enemy, they must be in league with each other. We have the power to destroy all of them. We also have a higher mission. If we accept the “collateral damage”, we can turn the Middle East into a garden of democracy, peace and love for America. Terror will then disappear; harmony will prevail, and oil will flow freely throughout the earth.

What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong is what it does to reality. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were not in league with each other; they were rivals for power. Many believe Osama was trying to provoke us into a general Middle Eastern war that would drain our resources, destroy our international influence, and leave us vulnerable to his attacks.

It is one thing to defend ourselves, and do everything we can to stop atrocities in other parts of the world. It is another to second-guess history and try to stamp out all evil in advance, thinking the final outcome will justify our actions. To bring death, crippling injury, and water poisoned with human sewage to thousands of people unnecessarily, in the hope of instituting paradise, is to play God--without God's love, compassion, wisdom and information.

We need leaders who can discern our real security needs. A president needs to distinguish between immediate threats and imagined opportunities to transform a region of the world. If we want to use myths, we’re better off going back to their essential truths. We can increase goodness by taking care of each other, and remembering that the same spirit lives in every person on earth.


Edna Garte is Professor of Humanities at Oakland Community College, in Auburn Hills, MI.


Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 1, 2004.

 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.22 Hinkley Point C subsidy has dealt consumers 'a bad hand', say MPs [even ignoring the possibly huge costs of nuclear calamities in the future...]

11.22 Renewables will drive 'steep decline' in wholesale electricity price in Australia – report [with a steep decline in air pollution too!]

11.22 Too right it's Black Friday: our relentless consumption is trashing the planet

11.22 Poor sperm quality linked to air pollution

11.21 Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

11.20 Replacing Liddell coal plant with clean energy $1.3bn cheaper – analysis

11.20 Battered by extreme weather, Americans are more worried about climate change [graphs]

11.20 Luxury Socialized Medicine

11.20 Keystone XL pipeline decision: what's at stake and what comes next? [the public's water is at risk]

11.20 A civil rights 'emergency': justice, clean water and air in the age of Trump

11.19 27-Year Study Finds the Amount of Insects Flying in the Air Has Declined 75 Percent

11.19 'My eyes are burning': Delhi holds half marathon despite pollution warning [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

11.17 'We should be on the offensive' – James Hansen calls for wave of climate lawsuits

11.17 Keystone pipeline leaks estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota

11.17 For Damage Done and Transition Needed, 50+ Groups Demand Global Fossil Fuel Tax

News Media Matters

11.22 RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs [like the end of The Fairness Doctrine for the news media under Reagan, we expect content and practices to tilt further to favor monoplies and 'conservatives']

11.18 The Paradise Papers: How Ridiculously Easy It Is For The Rich To Avoid Taxes [birds of a feather flock together]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.22 Christian Theocracy, Authoritarianism, And The Blind Support Of Roy Moore

11.22 Can Republicans Stem the Tide of Women Abandoning Their Party?

11.21 Why is Donald Trump launching a withering attack on nonprofits?

11.21 Lies, Incoherence and Rage on Tax Cuts

11.21 Inequality Out of Control: The Average 1% Household Is Over $2.5 Million Richer in the Past Year

11.21 World’s Cheapest Solar Power in Mexico a Coal-Killer [Trump's obsession to help the coal industry and power plants is obviously stupid in many ways]

11.15 GOP Tax Bill Would Trigger $25 Billion in Cuts to Medicare, Warns CBO

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.18 US, European Nations Slammed for 'Complicity' as Humanitarian Groups Demand Aid for Yemen

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.20 Monaco builds into the Med to house new throng of super-rich [Can we ever have laws to fully prosecute $Billionaire tax dodgers if the courts and government are bribed? If not, can we have a civilized anarchy instead?]

11.19 The Design Flaw at the Core of Humanity's Malaise

11.18 'All Out Class War': GOP Bill Cuts Taxes for Private Jet Owners, Hikes Taxes on Students

International & Futurism

11.22 The long read: After the liberation of Mosul, an orgy of killing

11.22 Coup in Zimbabwe: A win-win for China – for now

11.22 Vladimir Putin briefs Donald Trump on plan to end Syrian civil war [in the forthcoming agreement, we presume that all of the oil and gas wealth (from pipeline decisions, etc.) will go to the warlords du jour, with only nice words for the people of the region who have suffered so much...]

11.21 The Saudi System And Why Its Change May Fail

11.21 Saudi Billionaires Look for Ways to Protect Assets From Any Government Purge

11.20 Zimbabwe is not the banana republic of western fancy. After Mugabe, it can thrive [let's all pretend like he really did resign...] [when it's safe, create and grow a government sovereign wealth fund with national mineral wealth mining profits—like Norway did—to facilitate becoming a stronger society, improve public services and build a world-class economy]

11.20 EU to push for 40% quota for women on company boards

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: