There Is No Victory In War

October 28, 2011 by  

The 31st verse of The Tao Te Ching by the Chinese sage, Lao Tzu, says in part:

"... This is why the wise person does not use weapons unless there is no choice. He prefers peace and quiet, and he does not celebrate victory in war. If we celebrate victory, we find happiness in killing, and when killing makes us happy, we can't grow spiritually.

War should be treated like a funeral, because many people are being killed. All of the victims should be mourned, and victory should not be celebrated."

Libya's leader, the late, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

It is easy to justify the killing or harsh treatment of certain people. Justification is not the same thing as justice. Often people only need an excuse to unleash the buried beast within them. Very quickly victims can become the perpetrators of unnecessary violence themselves. When I reported the late night attack against my person by three muggers, a police officer suggested that I must have really hurt the attackers badly to escape unharmed. "I only did what I had to do," I answered. I was offended at his suggestion that I "mugged" the muggers. A friend said that I should have broken their arms and that I had a right to kill them since they threatened to kill me.It was hard for him to understand my response. "I am not a killer, and I do not care to focus my mind and spirit in the cause of destruction. Killing is never my intent.

The Kamakura Zen warriors understood. The enlightened warrior can attain a state where "It kills." If the circumstance had escalated to point where there was no turning room the criminals would slay themselves. By not ceasing their attack they would have triggered a No-Mind response in me. Such a response is spontaneous, ego-less and free. The power of No-Mind is Divine activity, beyond the realm of personal choice and responsibility. In this case, the men ran up against unexpected resistance. For some reason they fled. When there is no bloodshed on either side that is genuine victory. In Bushido, this outcome is known as ai-nuke or mutual escape.

It saddens me that as the human race we have not learned what the Zen master, Bankei taught so long ago. It was one of the last things, Master C.O. Neal said to me. "You cannot wash off blood with blood." I was reminded of all this when I heard the news detailing the way Colonel Gaddafi met his end. According to early reports he was captured alive but shot to death afterwards and dragged through the streets for public display. This sounds awfully familiar. It does not suggest a new form of government nor a people more different than Gaddafi. What happened to a trial?

The Bible tells of a soldier who came to David and told him he had slain King Saul, David's enemy. He was expecting a reward, although he was lying. His reward was that he lost his head. "Touch not the head of my anointed." David reminded him of the teachings of The Lord before executing him.

We may not like to think of it this way but all heads of state, not just the ones we like or of our own nation, rule by decree of God. Collectively, they are Caesar. As such, politics, notwithstanding, their offices are suppose to be respected. Officially, America has come to a place in consciousness where it, too, suggests a kind of dictatorship. In America we want to dictate who should rule another country and what kind of government they should have. We often work to force leaders out, and do not oppose assassination of those who have fallen from our favor. If the sovereign nation principle is true, each nation must decide its own destiny. People have an inherent right to fight against tyranny but they must be careful not become like those they seek to depose.

I did not vote for President George Bush, nether father nor son, however, I was not pleased when shoes were thrown at President George W. Bush by an Iraqi reporter. Once the election is over, whoever wins is my president. I do not want anyone to hurt, kill or shame my president. In truth, I am not fond of the way our own reporters attack the leader, either. They are often overly disrespectful. It seems that it would be very meaningful for us to show respect to our leadership because we are not forced to at gunpoint.

Politics being what they are, things may change by the time you read this, and while I have been in the midst of preparing this article, I have already noticed the spin in affect but I felt it was hypocritical for American leaders to publicly celebrate the summary execution of Colonel Gaddafi by a people promising alternative leadership. We claim to be a nation of laws and high moral fiber. We should not condone murder in any form. To applaud the method used to kill Colonel Gaddafi is to invite more such acts. What are we saying? "Murder anyone you like in the street so long as we have turned our back on him?

When mob mentality rules anything goes. The trouble with mobs is that they can turn anywhere, even on "you." I have not forgotten how Saddam Hussein became the substitute for Osama Bin Laden. The master of "Weapons of Mass Destruction," was in his grave many years before Bin Lama was found, and he did not even have the weapons used as an excuse to bring him down. This was classic transference. Suddenly, it seemed, there was a script change,the former ally of the country became the chosen enemy. So many people took delight in hearing he was found hiding in a hole like an animal. His people also stripped their former leader of all dignity before executing him but in that case, he did have a trial. There was no "innocent until proven guilty" but it was a public trial.

Perhaps part of the reason I am mindful of the way people treat the fallen lies in the history of my own tribes.

In America, those of African ancestry were hated for one reason. It was immutable and beyond disguising. We were black. We were branded by a nation as unworthy of respect or equal consideration in every quarter. There were several ways to deal with the problem, accept it, and die inwardly, fight it and risk being imprisoned or killed or take solace in Religion, the promise of a Heaven to come

To fight it was a criminal act, and my people had no legal protection. They could be shot or lynched with impunity. The one who pulls a trigger on any person and fires into their body once they are subdued has no value for human life. It does not matter what that person has done. If they have been subdued for crimes committed it is time to turn them over to the law. That is what we would hope.

The heat of battle is a life and death struggle. Soldiers in a firefight must do their duty. The soldiers on either side of the battle field are risking their lives, some sacrificing them for a cause they believe. Such is the nature of war. A soldier is not a murderer. There is a line, however, and everyone knows where it is, even if most people remain silent about it.

Nations and individuals alike have a right, a duty to defend themselves against danger but we should not delight in killing. When my brother came back from Vietnam he kept referring to the North Vietnamese solders as "Gooks," I knew who he meant but I asked him to tell me who he was referring to. When he told me, I said, "Call them what they are. Your calling them Gooks is a way to dehumanize them in the same way the word, "nigger" was used to degrade African-Americans. It is easy to shoot "Gooks. It is not easy to shoot persons. He understood. People can seem like targets at a Carnival shooting booth, if we listen to propaganda, and call them by a dehumanizing name. We must listen to our heart.

On my mother's side, the family name is Ely. Our Jewish lineage places us in the Levite tribe. The Jews also felt the sting of hatred, demoralization and dehumanization. Who can learn of the Halacaust and not be horrified that one group of human beings slaughtered millions of non-combatants simply because they were of a different culture. Millions of people being killed is hard to grasp but if one person, you for example, were starring at the barrel of a gun being held by a person who saw you as less than a piece of wood, how would you feel in that final second? You could not appeal to their humanity because to him you were not human.

We have programmed a generation to view killing as a game, and so it is. There are so many video games with killing themes. Very young children practice their shooting by learning the Kill Zone and firing at one character after another. We have similar fare in the movies. The problem arising from both Video games and movies is that people kill without remorse or responsibility. A movie character can kill and go out for a snack immediately afterwards. Nothing suggests that they feel anything. What is scary is that many of the children of Baby Boomers who do commit crimes have iced-over eyes and expressionless faces. It is easy to believe when they pull a gun they will not hesitate to shoot it. They do not value life but the fault may be with "distant" parents and the cavalier way we deal with life on the official level. "Collateral damage? Say it clearly. "We can get our target but we will have some collateral damage. We will kill a few hundred innocent people to get the man we want. "That is acceptable," comes a voice removed from the action

I am using Colonel Gadhaffi as an example because he is a very recent case but the problem of human beings not respecting life is a major flaw. We have often heard about policemen shooting people and killing them when it was not necessary. We have also heard of policemen being killed on a routine stop. Everyone needs to step back and examine this thing we call life, your life. You cannot create it. How dare we willfully destroy it. It is not a game. All life is sacred to me, so I still take insects outside but let me be clear. I will protect my loved ones or anyone who is in danger from those who would destroy them without mercy. That was my promise to God, long ago. I have found through the years that I do not have to become like the vicious ones to neutralize their attack. There is an alternative to what we are seeing on the world scene. The peaceful at heart cannot throw down his sword in the midst of a battle but the Samurai sword has a blunt side also. If there is the slightest possibility of Ai-Nuke,mutual escape, I welcome it. Seek the path of mutual escape and God will make the way. If all avenues of escape are blocked ...lightening flashes. There is no condemnation when Divine Providence acts.

Life is seamless. As electricity is the one power flowing through homes, businesses and machines globally, The Spirit of Life animates all beings. We may not like the vehicle which it energizes but we must remember at all times the mysterious source of life. Who is worthy to take it?

When it comes to the issue of respect. Symbolically, a president, a king or queen personifies their country. For the time that they hold their offices the respect given to them is to the nation, itself. We must be careful how the transference of power is made. We have witnessed assassinations in America and we did not like it. We mourned our president. Keep in mind that I come from a people who were not included in the American dream but we, too, mourned the fallen leader. People can be evil we know that but we must be very mindful that our response to them comes from a higher place.

A nation must maintain a defensive force but victory cannot be measured in body counts. That is a lie we must stop. Victory comes when people become more understanding and tolerate of each other. How can their be victory when those who give the most do not live to reap the rewards? The Bible says, death is the last great enemy. We do not have far to look that too many people have formed an alliance with death. In some cases, killing is an art form, in other case it is high tech. In either case, anyone who really believes that victory can be achieved through war has no clue to what victory is. Imagine that you are a hostage in a bank holdup. The policy of the local law is zero tolerance. They fire into the bank, kill the three robbers and nine hostages. You are wounded. Is that a victory? The hostages did not count. They were collateral damage. The goal was to stop the robbers. What is the spin? Open your eyes, see! Open your ears, hear! Time to really look deeply into what is valuable. Do not celebrate violent deaths , no one's. Life is not a video game. One person may die but many suffer.

The following classic cartoon is included because it illustrates how a license to kill can dull the sensitivity of the shooter. It also shows how change can come when we allow ourselves to hear and see the intended target as an individual soul.


Kitabu Roshi


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