Effects On War: The Many Effects Of War

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Some Effects of War

Dana W. Paxson

© Dana W. Paxson 2004

War has many effects. We see the obvious ones every day. Let's look at the less-obvious ones.

What are these effects? They are the subtle effects of the personal experience of war. They are well-known to those who live with them. They are also well-known to those who use them to their own advantage. What happens to an individual immersed in warfare changes the individual, but it also changes that individual's society from the bottom to the top. There is a deep and nearly-direct connection between individual war-trauma and the workings of that individual's society and culture.

I see two basic kinds of trauma arising out of warfare. One is the trauma of the victim: the wounded, tortured,
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What a tempting opportunity for any irresponsible leader of government! History and the headlines are loaded with such opportunities and the leaders who capitalize on them. Out of the weaknesses of individuals, governments justify and construct new warfare. War becomes a tool: loyalty can be assured, imagined threats can be inflated into seeming realities, and promises of safety can become magnets for the weak.

Across the whole human world, we find societies which seem to have built the process of war-traumatization into their systems. Such systems overemphasize patriotism. They present a constant sense of threat and fear. They fantasize a world of safety in which they are the victors against all enemies, and thus the creators of safety. And they wage war, because the waging of war creates the very sort of people who can be controlled by patriotism, threat, and fantasies of safety. How can this destructive, perpetual cycle be
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As more and more people become aware of the effects of war, they work to remove themselves from its cycles, and eventually they become peacemakers. These are the souls who struggle daily with the conflicts among those around them, and try to teach themselves and these others the habits of peace. Little by little the peacemakers chip away at the processes that perpetuate war, and build up the inner strength of the people weakened by it.

Through the waging of peace, patriots come to realize that loyalty is to each other, one-on-one, among all of us, and not to some master or leader.

Through the waging of peace, the threatened come to realize that the true threat is war itself, not the 'enemy'.

Through the waging of peace, the fearful come to realize that there is no safety apart from reliance on all of our fellow human beings and the best they have to offer, and on ourselves and our best as well.

Are these realizations simple and straightforward? Absolutely not. Ask anyone who has had to overcome a lifetime of immersion in the values of war. The first step on the path is to stop listening to anyone who tries to manipulate our loyalties, our perceptions, and our fears. That way we can begin to hear and see what we need more than anything else: a path to peace.

But the path is long, and war still stands in the way. What will we do to complete our journey -- the long journey of the hope of all
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