“All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.”
― John Steinbeck
War, be it verbal or physical, has only one facilitator, the failure of reason to lead the path to a tolerable and accommodating alternative. Reason, one would hope, is what differentiates between adapting oneself to the world as opposed to adapting the world according to one’s own needs and desires. Reason, one would also hope, is that faculty which separates us humans from other species. It is supposed to be the light, the compass which is expected to guide us in the mazes of Life, in difficult times when we reach the brinks of insanity and lead us away from conflicts and strife onto a most stable road.
When I witness conflicts, personal, political, national, religious or others, I cannot help but think of them merely as a symptom of what Berthold Brecht ironically refers to in his poem, “General Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle,” as man’s “one defect, he can think.”
As Brecht points out to us in that poem, war is the choice of the few, those who have too often employed that which was given to us humans as the sacred gift, the ability to think in a reasonable way and, instead, chose to turn it into a mundane, destructive tool. These are the arrogant ones, the ego ridden ones, those who believe they are the sole possessors of Truth, those who are ready to sacrifice the humble, the downtrodden towards achieving their own self set goals. Their defect, as Brecht suggests, is undeniably their ability to think yet are plagued and motivated by their choice not to turn that talent into a blessing. Unfortunately, they are driven by their own agenda, their lust for money power and fame. They have their own self twisted image of being the carriers of the beacon of justice, their definition of justice, and the banner of truth, their truth.
And since when do these attributes go hand in hand with reason?