Dream Of A Stranger?

David Myatt

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Editorial Note: Although we’re not certain if this 2010 item by David Myatt is one of the many items about his ‘numinous way’ that he subsequently, post-2011, rejected, we reproduce it here since it compliments his Some Problems With Modern Democracy written around the same time.

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Dream Of A Stranger?

In the perspective of our thousands of years of human learning from the thousands of years of suffering we humans have inflicted on our own kind, it is just so discouraging that humans individually and when as for example in the role of government officials continue to deny responsibility, continue to try to cover up their suffering-causing deeds, or the suffering-causing deeds of their governments [1], by deceptive propaganda, by excuses, and by lies.

In addition, the hypocrisy of governments, of government officials, and of politicians democratically elected or otherwise, seems to increase with every passing decade. Thus and for example the majority of governments in the West – if not all of them when they consider their perceived interests are involved – declare they are the side of “justice” and “truth” and “freedom” and “peace” and yet continually interfere in the affairs of other lands in a detrimental way, causing harm and suffering to civilians, by supporting or implementing economic sanctions, by supporting or being part of military invasions or interventions, by supporting or undertaking covert government-sponsored extra-judicial killings of individuals considered a threat to the security or the strategic interests of some government or governments.

This government hypocrisy – this false manifestation of being good or virtuous – was much in evidence in the military invasion and occupation, by Western forces, of Iraq and Afghanistan, during which invasion and the years-long occupation hundreds of thousands of civilians were injured and killed; hundreds of thousands of civilians suffered economic hardship and trauma, and an unknown number of individuals were summarily executed, often by means of covert government-directed operations, without due legal process. All this suffering, all the killing, all the deaths, all the trauma endured by civilians, were often justified by the governments who caused such things by propagandistic means as in the case of Iraq where one of the main excuses used by politicians was the deception that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” with the British Prime Minister stating that “regime change in Iraq would be a wonderful thing.” [2]

In effect, the propaganda was that the West, and Western military forces, were on the side of “justice” and “truth” and “freedom” and “peace” while the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan were “evil regimes” that had to be opposed and deposed. That is, in basic terms that the governments of the West were moral [3], and morally superior to those “immoral regimes.” Hence why a former US President used the term “axis of evil” in reference to those declared to be enemies of “the good”.

This was hypocrisy – a false manifestation of being good or virtuous – by the governments of the West because their actions, their invasion and occupation caused far more suffering, far more deaths, far more trauma than the governments they deposed, with the legacy of those invasions and occupations no doubt being felt – in terms of people suffering – long after the governments of the West decide to end their occupation of those foreign lands. For how can it be ethical – good, or in the words of a former British Prime Minister, a wonderful thing – to cause so much suffering, so many deaths, so much trauma?

Personally, I do not believe that it is ethical to cause such things since I have, after many years, arrived at the conclusion that what is good is what our faculty of empathy reveals does not cause suffering to other living beings, with “the good” thus manifest externally in a practical way in we humans by what is fair, what is compassionate, what is honourable, what is honest, what is reasoned and balanced.

For this understanding of what is ethical is what I personally believe our thousands of years of human learning, from the thousands of years of suffering we humans have inflicted on our own kind, has taught us; forming as such an understanding did the basis of the teachings of Lao Tzu, Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus of Nazareth, and forming as it does the essence of the Oresteia by Aeschylus, the essence of the Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone of Sophocles, the essence of the philosophy of people such as Epictetus, and the raison d’etre of groups such as the Religious Society Of Friends.

At least the Ancient Greeks and Romans were not hypocrites, like so many people now seem to be and as almost all our governments are today. For the Ancient Greeks and Romans fought, invaded, conquered, because for the most part their men enjoyed it, because it usually offered them material rewards such as booty or prisoners who could be enslaved, and also because their chieftains, their leaders, their representatives openly and unashamedly placed the interests of their people before the interests of others.

What I find so discouraging is this lack of modern-day honesty – especially by governments – combined with what seems to me to be a lack of progress by individuals en masse toward living by ethical virtues such as fairness, compassion, honour, honesty, and reason.

We human beings just seem to continue to make the error of hubris – manifest by the likes of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Oedipus – decade after decade, century after century, and millennia after millennia. In other words, although our thousands of years of human learning – our religions, our philosophies, our stories of tragedies – has and have changed some humans and re-made them as ethical beings, they have not so far changed sufficient to prevent such large-scale suffering as was caused by the First World War, the Second World War, and by recent conflicts such as the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

For we humans do seem to need, to still be in thrall to, abstractions: especially dogmatic, supra-personal, unempathic, notions of “good” and “evil”.

The personal cultivation of empathy by individuals seems to me to be a practical way to remove ourselves from the cycle of human-caused suffering. That at least is my – perhaps naive – hope; the only means I have, so far, found to banish the Spectre of Discouragement.

Or is all this just a dream of someone who is now a stranger in the modern world?

David Myatt
2010

[1] By the term ‘government’ is meant a specific entity responsible for governing or ruling a specific area, which area is usually a nation or geographic region, and which entity functions, exists, by means of individuals – elected and/or unelected – who occupy positions of authority and/or of influence in a specific government and who because of such authority/influence can be or should be held accountable for the actions and the policies of that government.

[2] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo020924/debtext/20924-05.htm

[3] That is, virtuous, ethical, and thus that “they” represent “the good” as opposed to what is “evil”.


Article source:
https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/dream-of-a-stranger/