WASHINGTON, January 14, 2012 - This week, media outlets published a video of three marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban soldiers. Reaction was swift by government and military officials, condemning the actions of the Marines. Officialls assured the public that they would identify the offenders and hold them accountable.
While laudable, the government reaction does not address the real tragedy.
Why are we horrified by soldiers peeing on dead people, yet not horrified that humans kill other humans on purpose? We’ve grown accustomed to war, as if that is the way things have to be.
Are we really that tied to our “I’m right and you’re wrong” way of doing business?
You can be very grounded in the realities of life on Earth and still know that much of what goes on is nuts. To question what is nuts makes sense and is not about who is right or wrong. It is about exploration. The exploration is not to judge how things are but to look at other possibilities.
The fact that people have difficulty coping in our world seems normal. Our bodies are not built to tolerate high levels of cortisol and adrenaline from continuous stress. We are amazingly adaptable but frequently adjust beyond the bounds of reason. You can throw a life-ring to someone floundering in a stormy sea. They will cope better with the situation and conserve energy, but they are still being tossed by wind and giant waves.
Maybe the Taliban men who died hated all Americans. They may have killed U.S. soldiers. Yet, people have taken the moral high ground over this incident because no one deserves to be denigrated after passing.
True, but the crux of the video is dead people. It remains astounding that after all humanity has been through, we have not learned to treasure life more than concepts.
Two things many clients in therapy grapple with are letting go of long held beliefs that sabotage them, and realizing it is OK, and normal, for people to see things differently. Beliefs serve a purpose, and some of them turn out to be facts. Still, the only things the world can possibly agree on are those we have in common, like life for instance.
Words are wonderful though often confusing or inadequate. Anyone who reads this will interpret it according to their own perceptions. For example, there is the matter of supporting our troops. Do any of you reading this think the writer of the article does not? It is possible to support our soldiers, be in awe of their courage, and still imagine a world where war is history instead of a current event.
Humans may not share the same ideas, but we do share an emotional language. All our bodies are made of elements found on and from the one planet we share. We know how to nurture life; what it takes for people to flourish. The world acts as if Freud was right about humans having Thanatos, a “death instinct,” but Freud also wrote about Eros, our instinct for creativity and self-preservation.
We can make Eros choices.
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