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Nature of reality - Rodolfo Ragonesi

Leafing through history and philosophy, I read of the wisdom of Confucius, who stated that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us; of the Buddha, who invited others to test everything he said and take it on board not on blind faith but only if they were satisfied with the test results; of Jesus Christ who spoke of “the least of my brothers”.

I read of the wisdom of Alexander the Great who once asked a captured leader of his defeated foes “how would you have me treat you?” “As a Prince, my Lord”, “And so it shall be,” came Alexander’s reply. Aristotle had taught him well. He had grasped the importance and wisdom of treating a defeated foe with respect, rather than contempt.

In law as well as in research you have the hierarchy of ‘best evidence’, with primary sources of documents and forensic analysis sitting at the top. One must defer to primary sources and not to “detto del detto” (hearsay), which often appears in academia, as a pool of academics tend to quote one another in a circle rather than slog away to dig up hard evidence.

One must do so, furthermore, without fear or fervour, even at the risk of being labelled sympathetic to this nation or that ideology, or having an axe to grind against another nation or ideology. Lady Justice is portrayed as blind as she weighs her scales and holds her sword ready to strike. And so it must be with every seeker of the facts of both the past and current affairs.

The prominent English historian Edward Gibbon once wrote that “history is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind”.

We have been told that if history is forgotten we are condemned to repeat it. But it is not as simple as that. History misrepresented is as good as forgotten. Sometimes academics may not do enough research. Power structures on the other hand never tire in trying to conceal their own crimes and follies for generations.

Their best weapons are that of concealment, through the hiding away of top-secret documents that are often so vital for historians to get a proper grasp on historical accounts, coupled with the weapon of perpetual propaganda.  If files cannot be concealed, they are destroyed. Without them both history and analysis of current affairs are incomplete, even distorted.

The main problem is however often not so much one of revisionism, which has negative connotations suggesting some form of rewriting of accounts and denials. It is the problem of reductionism, of reducing arguments to simplistic ones, of failing to see the bigger picture, and most of all of seeing the moral picture.  We need to be ever vigilant and go beyond national and war propaganda to interpret facts. Many facts are uncontested, but it is the interpretation thereof that often needs revisiting.

War and hostile propaganda always tries to argue that the end justifies the means. It is bad enough that war is abhorrent, but it gets worse when we disregard international humanitarian law every time a war comes around. Bombings of civilians in any war past or present, are nothing short of war crimes against humanity of the highest order. Yet how many of us take time to read international law, or Confucius for that matter?

Then there is the problem that Thomas Carlyle referred to in his book On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, which among others focuses on the leader or king worship as he called it. This book should be read again in our times.

During peace time recently there has been a move away from glorifying leaders, but the moment we get into war mode the war propaganda machinery steps up a gear and we glorify our leaders once again in some form of national brainwashing. Then when peace returns we keep those war leaders on some pedestal. This is dangerous and short-sighted. And it is bigotry for some to name-call those who try to point this out.

Some persons who have had out-of-body experiences, through near-death, or through meditation-induced altered states of consciousness, have been given the message that love is the greatest force in the universe, which unites the cosmic ocean of consciousness, and human life on earth is just this one test for us all.

Love may be the most powerful force in the universe, but thus far it is not the one that has dominated human life on earth

Before we could even hope to start to love beyond our immediate families, however, we first need to respect others and make sure our leaders do too. Through the ages warmongers and war leaders have not only shown utter disrespect and contempt for their foes, unlike Alexander, but also contempt for the international laws of war against the targeting of innocent civilians.

They get away with it time after time, as so many people get sucked in to the hysteria of conflict and blind rage of hatred, and buy in to the war hawks’ devilish deceit and propaganda.

Anyone who tries to point this out so often gets vilified, ridiculed, labelled a naive dreamer, a sympathiser of the other side, a closet extremist, or even some foreign agent with his own agenda.

War is the greatest abomination afflicting humankind. It is the extreme opposite of love, and destroys all attempts at harmony that would bring humanity together. Yet we seem to forget this obvious fact, like a compulsive gambler momentarily blinded and oblivious to the financial commitments to his family.

As long as there are people out there who buy in to the skewed doctrine that one of the warring sides is just, that wars are inevitable, or that his side could not have worked more relentlessly to find the middle way and avoid war, or was not provoking it, or that war leaders are some form of heroes and not power hungry monsters, they will never understand the true nature of reality on this earth.

They are condemned to be hoodwinked from one war to the next, in an endless cycle of destruction, as the great deceiver rubs his blood-stained hands in glee.

Such people will never see through the illusions, the lies, the way dark forces masquerade as light, wolves as sheep, and hidden power struggles and empire building as righteousness. And they will thus condemn more generations to great suffering in the meat grinder of the gods of war, who play dice with their lives.

Love may be the most powerful force in the universe, but thus far it is not the one that has dominated human life on earth. If this is truly our test, then we are failing it miserably, especially those war hawks. No amount of shooting, discrediting and vilifying the messenger will get us any closer to defeating the warmongers, to respecting others even in the face of adversity, and to rising up as a human race to banish war for good.

Only then will this human species be able to climb out of the abyss of the dark ages, reach out to the stars and try to learn about the great force in the universe.

But before we can ever learn to love others, regardless of colour, creed or race, we first and foremost need to learn to respect them, and to respect the international rule of humanitarian law, which has long ago been thrown out with the bath water.

Rodolfo Ragonesi is a lawyer and researcher in international affairs.

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