What is the cause of war? Mark Zimmerman answers this eternal question and offers a solution.

emotional literacy education self-knowledge

The Cause of War and a Solution
How to Make the World a Better Place Chapter 10
by Mark Zimmerman

Go To:
Chapter 1 Emotional Literacy Education and Self-Knowledge
Chapter 2 Emotional Literacy Language and Vocabulary
Chapter 3 Emotional Literacy Education Teaching Compassion
Chapter 4 Emotional Literacy Education Understanding Fear
Chapter 5 Emotional Literacy Education, Hate, Violence & September 11, 2001
Chapter 6 Abraham Maslow, Emotional Literacy and Ortho-Education
Chapter 7 A Theory of Human Motivation by Abraham Maslow
Chapter 8 Self-Knowledge Learning Needs vs. Maslow's Self-Actualization Skills
Chapter 9 National Standardized Test, FCAT Testing and State Tests

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On the eve of the war perpetrated by the United States upon Iraq, I contemplate the nature of war. Wait a minute! That assumes the United States has not been at war. Capitalism and big business, is a form of warfare, and the United States has domestically and internationally staged a continuous war.

Quoting Bill Moyers commentary on May 3, 2002 titled "Class in America," we see his belief that the rich in America have declared war and won against the American People. He wrote, "Yes, the rich declared class war and won. All that's left is for politics to divide up the spoils."

The very nature of politics is an action of war. It is the instinct in man, out of his feeling of weakness, to form groups which are more powerful than himself. These groups pit themselves against each other. They vie for dominance and control of the sources of wealth to make their own group more powerful and other groups submissive.

The American family is also in a continuous state of war. Conflict between husband, wife and children is a constant source of unhappiness. Behavioral symptoms of these conflicts are rape, violence, murder, physical and verbal abuse. Emotional symptoms of these internal conflicts include frustration, jealousy, arrogance, anger and hate.

Where do these external conflicts come from? Every human being is functioning from inner conflicts. The cause of these inner conflicts are our nature. The brain, and its physical and functional aspects, is a compartmentalized structure. Without educational intervention, especially in early childhood development, we are all destined to this nature. The results of compartmentalization of the brain is that it competes with itself. That is, one aspect of the brain vies for dominance over another part of the brain. For example, we each have ideas within us that conflict. Also, we have desires that conflict. This inner state of conflict is continuous and manifests itself in conflict between persons, groups and nations.

To be for war is to desire death for other human beings. Yet, to be against war is also a form of hate. For to be against anything is a form of hatred. Like during the Vietnam War, this is the beginning of the escalation of another cycle of international and domestic conflict. Hatred exists on both sides of every issue. It is our very instinct and nature, as we actually desire conflict.

I would like to stop war. Not just the American and Iraq war, but all wars. It is possible. Through the United Nations, the members of the Security Council, and if all the nuclear powers agreed, war could be outlawed. The problem is that countries like the United States see war as a means to their economic goals. America has benefited greatly from war. After all, what would America be without the war it waged against the American Indian tribes, their women, children and their entire way of life? This success has caused Americans to become addicted to war.

The powers of China, France, Great Britain, Russia, United States, Pakistan, India and all other nations, could participate in world security. All that is needed is a United Nations Security Council resolution making all war illegal. Intervention could be applied including the threat of nuclear annihilation if one country attacks another. Also, the world could begin the process of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in their own countries. This getting done is simply a matter of will by the world community.

Before I continue, I would like to express my profound appreciation for the work that Bill Moyers has done during his long career. His current work at PBS.ORG, and his television series Now, is truly the workings of journalistic genius on par with the likes of Albert Einstein. What makes him unique is his desire for the truth. He acts without prejudice and influence from special interest groups and program sponsorship.

Recently on Now, March 7, 2003, Moyers conducted another one of his brilliant interviews with Chris Hedges. His experience as a war correspondent outlines the dangerous addictions of war. Here is a part of that interview:


MOYERS: Read this for me.

HEDGES: "During a lull I dashed across an empty square and found shelter behind a house. My heart was racing. Adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream. I was safe. I made it back to the capital. And like most war correspondents, I soon considered the experience a great cosmic joke. I drank away the fear and excitement in a seedy bar in downtown San Salvador. Most people, after such an experience, would learn to stay away. I was hooked." (from the book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," by Chris Hedges.)

MOYERS: "You were hooked on?"

HEDGES: "War. On the most powerful narcotic invented by humankind is war."

MOYERS: "What is the narcotic? What is it that's the poisonous allure?"

HEDGES: "Well the Bible calls it, "The lust of the eye." And warns believers against it. It's that great landscape of the grotesque. It's that power to destroy. I mean one of the most chilling things you learn in war is that human beings like to destroy. Not only other things but other human beings. And when unit discipline would break down or there was no unit discipline to begin with, you would go into a town and people's eyes were glazed over. They sputtered gibberish. Houses were burning. They had that power to revoke the charter. That divine-like power, to revoke the charter of another human being's place on this planet. And they used it."

MOYERS: "I would have thought that being captured and held by the Iraqis as you were, would have cured you of your addiction. But yet it didn't."


MOYERS: "So I still don't understand it. I have to be honest. I mean I just don't understand why you keep putting yourself back into that which you hate."

HEDGES: "Well, because the experience itself, that adrenaline-driven rush of war. That sense that you know we have a vital mission that, as journalists, that we ennoble ourselves. I mean I think one of the things I tried very hard to do in the book was show the dark side of what we do."

The cause of war is our own human instincts and their emotional structures. Jane Goodall discovered this instinct in chimpanzees. She found groups of male chimpanzees in tribal warfare. We have been behaving in this way long before we acquired the mental powers of reason, language and creativity.

The important question to ask ourselves is how do we modify our own instincts to prevent conflict from forming. Because once conflict forms in the brain, external fighting is inevitable. For we cannot form true and lasting agreements with others, if internally we cannot agree with ourselves.

It is possible, through education, to gradually integrate the compartmentalized structures and functions of the brain. Psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote extensively on the integrated and dichotomous nature of the mind. He has described in great detail the benefits of an integrated self. He also wrote of the deficiencies that arise emotionally and cognitively when the brain remains dichotomous. The primary result of the dichotomize mind is an inability of the human to fully satisfy all of their physiological, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. When a person is unable to satisfy any of their needs, the instinct to fight becomes active in the brain. This operates at all levels of relationships.

Emotional Literacy Education is a form of education which stimulates all major parts of the brain. Stimulation, when produced over a long period of time, creates neurological growth between compartmentalized brained sections. In addition to activities that exercise all areas of the brain, the endeavor of Emotional Literacy is to increase the level of integrative consciousness, which brings unity between the five senses, consciousness, memory, feeling, thought and experience.

The activities in Emotional Literacy Education focus on the stimulation, coordination, enhancement and integration of the brain system. When inner integration is achieved, according to Abraham Maslow, the human self achieves what he called b-cognition, "13. Resolutions of dichotomies, polarities, conflicts. Inconsistencies seemed to exist simultaneously and to be sensible and necessary, i.e., to be seen as a higher unity or integration or under a subordinate whole." Abraham Maslow "The Farther Reaches of Human Nature," Chapter 20, "Further Notes on Cognition," page 252.

This implies that we would not see our fellow humans as points of conflict, with separate interests, but as necessary parts of a larger social system in which each person is seen as equally important.

In contrast, Abraham Maslow proposed the idea that without self-integration, the perceiver would experience the world through d-cognition. Maslow wrote, "13. Aristotelian logic, i.e., separate things seen as dissected and cut off and quite different from each other, mutually exclusive, often with antagonistic interest." Abraham Maslow "The Farther Reaches of Human Nature," Chapter 20, "Further Notes on Cognition," page 252.

Through this interpretation, we see our fellow humans as points of conflict, with separate interests which are antagonistic to our own. Others are seen as necessary only insofar as they serve our purposes. Each person is judged, and their importance varies by how much they contribute to our own selfish interests.

The integration of the self can be tracked externally through the emergence in the personality of specifically identifiable characteristics. A list of these can be found at: The Need-Emotions of Satisfaction. Likewise, a lack of integration can be observed in the student externally through identifiable characteristics. A list of these can be found at: The Need-Emotions of Unhappiness.

Note: For more on integrating the compartmentalized brain, see the chapter "Self-Knowledge Learning Needs vs. Maslow's Self-Actualization Skills."

The following poem by Mark Zimmerman was inspired by Poets Against the War. Their Website offers a collection of over 13,000 online antiwar poems from 12,000 poets.

Poets Against the War
A Poem by Mark Zimmerman

We poets against the war have agreed
     to the 70's chant by Edwin Starr,
               What is it good for?
                    Absolutely nothing!
                         Say it again.
          What is it good for?
               Absolutely nothing!"

     Now think twice.
          What are you for?

Nietzsche wrote, "Do you call yourself free?
     I want to hear your ruling idea,
          and not that you have escaped from a yoke.
     Are you such a man as ought to escape a yoke?
          There are many who threw off their final worth
               when they threw off their bondage.
     Free from what?
          Zarathustra does not care about that!
               But your eye should clearly tell me:
                    free for what?"

Now think thrice.
     The protesters of the 60's learned,
          "It is easy to be against war. It is easy to be for peace."
     Did that end war?

Nietzsche said, "Do you call yourself free?
     I want to hear your ruling idea...."
     To be Loving!
     To be Comforting!
     To be Compassionate!
     To be Sorrowful!
     To be Pitying!
     To be Accepting!
     To be Helpful!
     To be Understanding!
     To be Truthful!
     To be Faithful!
     To be Benevolent!
     To be Forgiving!
     To be Patient!
     To be Forbearing!
     To be Fortitudinous!
     To be Generous!
     To be Meditative!
     To be a longing for what makes us free from hate and war!
That is my ruling idea.

Additional online books and articles by Mark Zimmerman
Format - Real Audio The Old Man of the Holy Mountain
Format - Real Audio & Text The Book that Changed My Life
Subtitle: The Making of The Old Man of the Holy Mountain

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