Newspaper logo  
  Misplaced Myths and Current Dangers


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

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

10.15 'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact [1:10 video; comfortable in his willful ignorance and denial, catastropic effects will be sooner and greater for doing nothing]

News Media Matters

10.16 The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire [Distorting news and issues "analysis" almost completely where cable and Internet are least available]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.18 Are You Kidding Me?' Outrage as Democrats Push 'Incremental Steps' Over Bold Agenda Needed to Save Planet from Climate Catastrophe [Neoliberals still control Democratic Party leadership...]

10.18 Republicans are ramming through more judges — by holding hearings when everyone is out of town

10.18 Trump says selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will create a lot of jobs. That’s not true.

10.18 Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.

10.18 The new Republican midterm strategy is to copy Democratic ideas

10.18 Beto O’Rourke shows Democrats how to talk about climate change

10.18 The Democrats’ Incredible Shrinking Message

10.18 'Lives Hang in the Balance': 21 Days Before Midterms, McConnell Admits GOP Still Salivating to Gut Medicare and Social Security

10.17 Republican lawmakers react to the IPCC report – ‘we have scientists’ too!

10.16 The biggest political problem in America, explained in one chart

10.16 GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk [What would Jesus say?]

10.15  3,121 desperate journeys  Exposing a week of chaos under Trump's zero tolerance

10.15 We need tax police – and they should go after the likes of Donald Trump [growing the mafia-state; to the extent allowed all tax evaded results in additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

10.14 Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies


10.13 With Campaign Only 'Powered by People,' Beto O'Rourke Shatters All-Time Senate Fundraising Record With $38 Million Haul [nullifying Citizens United—that empowers corporations and the super-rich—with a pledged commitment returns democracy powered by the people!]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [There is NO EXCUSE for War Crimes]

10.12 Israel’s Illegal Blockade of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza has doubled Unemployment to 50% [5:51 video]

10.12 Trump Says Murder Shouldn’t Stop Saudi Weapon Sales Because ‘We Have Jobs’ [Morals and laws be damned! Trump grows his mafia-state for patron and personal profit]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

10.11 Climate change will make the next global crash the worst

International & Futurism

10.18 Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

10.18 Khashoggi Is The Tip Of The Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the US-Saudi Alliance

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up [the world needs mutually-beneficial moral friendships among nations, not high-risk emotional outbursts]

10.17 US-China tensions soar as 'new cold war' heats up

10.17 Jamal Khashoggi: gory reports of killing emerge as Pompeo meets Erdogan [What explains Trump's opinion and behavior?]

10.16 Our leaders are destroying our future. Wentworth must be a referendum on climate change

10.16 Tax evasion: blacklist of 21 countries with 'golden passport' schemes published [mafia-states are increasing and growing, threatening financial health of non-mafia states where tax evaded becomes additional debt or taxes on honest citizens]

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
This site Web

Public Service Ads: