Thursday, June 26, 2008

Top Ways to Help Start a War

Help start a war? No one wants to help start a war. At least very few people will admit they want to help start a war. Yet each day the thoughts, words, and actions of people either make it easier or more difficult for wars to begin and continue.

Why write a list of the ways to help start a war when it's possible to compile a list of the ways to prevent war? Actually this list started out as a list of ways to prevent war. But it sounded too much like something I've heard many times before. Perhaps in this crazy world with as many as fifty or more wars taking place at any given time, a list of ways to help start a war makes more "sense." Perhaps a "backwards" angle like this, of looking at peace and war will make a deeper impression, and be a more memorable reminder of small, but important steps each person can take to make this world more peaceful, and therefore more civilized and humane.

The Top Ways to Help Start a War
(in no particular order)

1. Be willing to fight and kill others. Join the military. If everyone refused to fight, there would be no war. Can you even imagine what the world would be like without any wars? Say nothing when a friend, neighbor, or someone you know, in order to get a reliable paying job, joins the military; or in order to get free money for college, decides to become a mercenary, and enlists. Avoid factual information about war. For example in WW1 twenty soldiers were killed for every civilian death. In WW2 the ratio was one soldier dead for every five civilian deaths. But in the 200 wars that have been fought since WW2, 90% of the victims have been civilians (Kassman in Overcoming Violence, page 60, Pub. 1998) Killing civilians is primarily what soldiers at war do nowadays. However don't worry about that. Since warfare has entered the high-tech era you can "fight" from a safe (for you) distance and may never see any of your civilian victims.

2. Buy war toys as playthings for your children.

3. Don't discourage or interfere with attempts by government and business to manufacture, market, and sell weapons to any country that can afford to buy them. Better yet, actually work in the arms industry helping manufacture the weapons used in warfare.

4. Be cautious about who you forgive for their sins and how often you forgive. This especially applies to criminals, strangers, foreigners, or enemy nations who might sin against you or against your country. Be hesitant about asking others or God to forgive you. Limit your forgiveness to family and close friends. If it's hard to forgive, don't bother trying. Although forgiveness can be difficult and take a lifetime, it can also be contagious. Avoid catching it.

5. Keep in mind that the only people really created in the image of God are those who think, talk, and look like you.

6. Silently help to pay for war with your tax dollars.

7. Believe the news you get from newspapers, news magazines, TV, or radio. Here in the United States where we have freedom of speech and press you can assume that the news is unbiased, accurate, objective, fair, and balanced. Especially avoid foreign newspapers, small independent web sites (such as Alternet, Truthout, and Freezerbox), short wave radio, and alternative magazines, newspapers, and web sites. Don't waste time or money trying to find another perspective. There probably isn't one, and if there is, it's undoubtedly fictitious.

8. Don't pray for peace. It might work.

9. Avoid communicating your concerns about war to senators, representatives, or the president.

10. Be sure to forget that military violence has exactly the same kind of effect on human bodies and human relationships as any other kind of violence you can name: street violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, drug-related violence, criminal violence, gang violence, etc.

11. Enthusiastically stand and applaud when military equipment and soldiers march by during a parade.

12. Try not to think about the consequences of your choices or actions, especially decisions or behavior that might have a harmful effect on others. In other words, don't be too concerned about other people. You heard the saying "God helps those who help themselves." (Don't look for it in the Bible because it isn't there). Make that a philosophy to live by. Let others help themselves. If you ignore the needs of others locally; the homeless, poor, hungry, or terminally ill, you will find it easier to be unconcerned about victims of war in other countries.

13. Use the same language government, the military, and much of the public uses. For example refer to military jobs and assignments with terms borrowed from the church, like "mission" and "service," instead of more accurate terms like "military violence," and "terrorism."

14. Avoid talking with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about the current war and its implications. To illustrate, if you start discussing the effects of the current war on our country's economy, you will have to include in your complaints about record high gasoline prices, the acknowledgement that the cost of this war against Iraq, the cost of the previous war against Iraq, as well as the cost of the future war against Iran, are all also part of the cost of gasoline. If there were no oil resources in that region, these wars would have never been discussed and considered, let alone happened. It can get complicated so don't even bring up the subject.

15. Try to simplify your obedience to Biblical teachings. Tweak the Ten Commandments slightly to make it easier to follow them. The commandment which says, "Thou shalt not kill," really means, "Thou shalt not commit murder." This is true even though the killing done by a soldier in war is just as premeditated as that done by a serial killer, and in spite of the fact that both killing and murdering have exactly the same effect on the victim. Forget that other commandments also address warfare. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me, " forbids that idolatry that goes with doing anything a government asks you to do. Since killing is taking something that doesn't belong to you, a human life, "thou shalt not steal," also applies to war. Better avoid the Ten Commandments altogether. They could easily trip up your plans to help start a war.

16. Select your entertainment from TV, movies, or video games which use violence, symbols of violence, or brute strength to quickly solve problems, resolve conflicts, or achieve goals. The less dialogue, the better. Remember that biceps, bullets, and bombs are more important than brains when it comes to resolving conflict.

17. Interpret Bible passages about peacemaking as applying only to your personal peace with God, or to conflict between family and friends. Don't apply them to conflict between races, traditional enemies, or countries.

18. Don't contribute money or volunteer time to an anti-war organization.

19. Limit your friends to people of your own race, age, religion, sex, language, and culture. Learning to be friends with, understand, love, and care for people who are in some way, "different," might tempt you to question some your cherished opinions and prejudices.

20. Be sure to worship in and support churches who wholeheartedly applaud each one of the home country's war efforts.

21. Join in enthusiastically when the "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung or played at school or sports events. Try not to notice that the anthem glorifies violence and that the words mention "bombs bursting in air," without ever addressing or acknowledging the suffering of the victims of those bombs.

22. Don't read any literature about peacemaking. Especially avoid books that looks at non-military actions that changed the course of history like The Missing Peace by Juhnke and Hunter; and books that focus on peaceful ways of resolving conflict like The Politics of Non-Violent Action by Sharp. Also avoid reading or listening to fiction and poetry. Both can be powerful anti-war literature.

23. Ignore reports of torture, abuse, vandalizing, and other acts by US soldiers in warfare, acts which would be criminal offenses if committed in this country. This includes rape and sexual violence by male US soldiers against their female comrades. When the military trains a soldier to dehumanize enemies enough to justify killing them, they've gone beyond the point of justifying any other kind of abuse or mistreatment. Some collateral damage like this has to be expected if we want to have a military ready to kill at a seconds notice. After all, warfare is "the sum of all evils wrapped up in one," and some discrimination is necessary to adequately train a soldier to kill. It's to be expected that at times our killing people and machines will victimize the innocent, or cost us some "friendly fire" casualties.

24. To be a war maker you must be a family destroyer. If you want to help start a war you have to forget that the US military is probably the most destructive force to family life on planet Earth. Military families have higher divorce rates, domestic violence rates, and child abuse rates than non-military families. When soldiers are sent to another country to fight in a war, not only are the families they leave behind harmed, the people they kill in war are also family members, and their families are destroyed or severely damaged by the killing soldiers do in warfare. Millions of families are harmed by the destruction that takes place during war. If not killed or injured many become homeless refugees, unemployed, malnourished, and poverty-stricken, and may stay that way for years or decades after the war is over. War destroys families, as well as neighborhoods, communities, and productive economies. So to be a soldier you must be willing to destroy families; your own family, as well as the families of strangers.

24. Especially for US citizens, let's remember that in spite of 9/11, war is still usually something that we do to other countries and people, not something they have a right to do to us.

25. Learn to follow orders without questioning the reason for the order and without thinking about the consequences of your actions. Blind obedience is the rule of thumb to live by if you want to help start a war. Whatever you do, don't think for yourself. Let the military, the government, or the leaders, speakers, pundits, and "shock jocks" of your favorite political party do your thinking for you.

26. Learn to discriminate. If you're not already one, become a racist, sexist, or discriminate on some other basis like religion or politics. All wars thrive on as well as promote some kind of discrimination. You might want to consider joining the millions of US citizens who seem to have taken much of the discrimination they had against African-Americans a few decades ago, and now direct it toward immigrants, especially illegal aliens. If you believe that all people are as valuable and precious as you are, and deserve the same rights that you deserve, then how can you justify killing them?

27. Dehumanize the enemy by resorting to name-calling. Every soldier has a derogatory name for his enemy. We've heard many of them before. Gook, raghead, and kraut are a few examples. In order to be able to kill another human, most soldiers must first engage in dehumanizing the enemy. This is done to deny the enemy of his humanity, thereby making it easier to kill him. Other names that dehumanize are rebels, warlords, commies, and insurgents. In using those we conveniently forget that to some people these individuals are probably heroes. Still other dehumanizing labels include terrorist, alien, and extremist. One person's terrorist is another's "freedom fighter." One person's pirate is another's coast guard. Even labels heard in political dialogue such as liberal, conservative, wing-nut, left-winger, right-winger, radical and others are often used with a poisonous tongue or pen and thereby help us forget that all people are created in the image of God, and are equally precious.

28. Certainly in order to justify starting a war, you have to overlook one of the biggest price tags attached to any military action and that is the cost paid by the soldiers who participate in war. The physical and psychological needs of veterans must be minimized in order for any country to freely start a war. We've seen that happening in the US as the Bush Administration has tried to cut benefits for veterans at the same time as the number of veterans are increasing and a larger percentage of veterans are coming home from war with serious physical and psychological injuries. Those who are acquainted with the sufferings and struggles of veterans, many who are homeless and unemployable, cannot in good conscience justify a war to simply steal resources from another country. If you want to help start a war you must ignore the veterans from previous wars, and reject the belief that veterans deserve the maximum amount of care for any and all physical, psychological, and needs they may have, even if it cannot be proven that their needs are military related.

and a few more, mostly shorter, ones;

29. Believe the promises of the military recruiter.

30. Practice playing God

31. Discard any religious loyalty or commitment you may possess.

32. Censor your Bible reading. Avoid the words of Jesus, especially
the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule.

33. Learn to excuse your actions by saying, "I was only following orders,"
or "I was only doing my job."

34. Live only for yourself and your family. Get more "things."

35. Isolate yourself from the daily news.

36. Ignore the artistic and cultural life of your community.

37. Discourage creative endeavors in children and youth.

38. Watch more TV.

39. Don't learn a foreign language, or become knowledgeable about another culture.

40. Support efforts of government and the military to censor the news media. Get your
war news from embedded reporters.

41. Ignore the environmental consequences of war. In the Bible soldiers were forbidden
to destroy fruit trees in war. What would happen to our war efforts if our soldiers had to protect the environment?

42. Vote only for candidates who promise to do the most for you. Don't support candidates
who appear to be concerned about the poor, homeless, unemployed, etc.

43. Vote only for candidates who support military solutions to our differences with other
countries. If you support candidates who are strong advocates of diplomacy, it's possible
that the hundreds of billions of dollars now going for the military would then be spent on
health care, education, environmental protection, the economy, etc. in other words used to
help people rather than destroy them. What kind of country and world would we then be
living in?

44. Learn to love and live the lie. Truth is the first casualty of any war.

(A condensed version of this list was published in leaflet form)


Dr. Liz Miller said...

Sad but true - you are right, by showing the opposite, you more acutely demonstrate where our mistakes are.

It is too easy to identify with these lies - and they are the hundred sins of commission of the twenty first century said...

Hi Leonard,

I hope you’ll allow me to comment on your post, “Ten ways to help start a war.”

I also favor peaceful methods for understanding, negotiation, compromise and converting bullies. They’re effective with many countries-governments, but not against relentless bullies who have their own agendas to grab more turf and rule.

Therefore, I think you’ve left off the two most important ways to help start a war:
* Refuse to fight no matter what.
* Be weak and unprepared to defend yourself, thereby inviting the other government to take what they want from you.

Often, the willingness and preparedness to defend yourself has been the best deterrent of war, the best stimulator of peace.

If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey. Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more. Ignoring the problem, conflict-avoidance or begging, bribery and appeasement encourage bullying behavior. A major problem are leaders who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying.

As I show in my books and CDs of case studies, “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids,” bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same. That’s why we can find ways to stop them, including the real threat of physical retaliation.

I am a patriot, despite all the things that are not perfect in America. If my grandparents had stayed in the old country instead of coming to America a hundred years ago, they wouldn’t have survived, my parents would never have been born and neither would I. America is the most wonderful country there is even though we’re not perfect.

Disclosure: I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (

Best wishes,

Leonard Nolt said...

Hi Ben;
Thank you for your comment on my post "Top Ways to Help Start a War." I appreciate hearing your perspective, and am finally getting around to responding. I'm not quite sure if you are advocating using violence against only other countries, or also suggesting that violence be used against bullies in the workplace. In either case I disagree. I think we differ in our perspectives, which is fine. If we agreed, there probably wouldn't be anything to write about. Your wrote that "refusing to fight no matter what," and being "weak and unprepared to defend yourself" are also ways to help start a war. There is no doubt that there are people in the world in positions of power who are willing to misuse that power to oppress other people, sometimes whole countries. The question is, how best to stop them. This could turn into a long comment but I will try to keep it short and maybe address this issue more completely at another time. I think I disagree with you on two definitions, one is the definition of the word "fight," and also the definition of the word "weak."
There are ways of fighting that do not use violence. When a tyrant takes over a country the first thing he does is censor, expel or imprison the artists, musicians, poets, and other writers. Why? Because they are the chief threats to his rule. They wil expose the lies he tells and are usually a greater threat than any army. Telling the truth about a dictator is one way of fighting that, I believe, is more dependable than any military. When the Soviet Union ceased to exist a couple decades ago they were not overthrown by another country's military force, but by people who told the truth about their country. Likewise in a work or school setting telling the truth about a bully wil be more effective. I certainly don't advocate using any kind of violence against a workplace or school bully.
Likewise "weakness" has to be defined in terms other than the number of people and weapons in the miltary. A country (and I think this currently applies to the US) can have a massive miltary force, but still be incrediably weak if they are not able to address the problems facing the citizens. Therefore we have long standing problems of inadequate or unaffordable health care, increasingly unavailable education because of increasing costs, immigration problems, environmental degradations, lack of intelligent energy solutions, etc., but at the same time we have a grossly over-funded miltary force that repeatedly "bullies" other countries and has been doing so since Vietnam. I see the US military today as being so large and over-funded that instead of protecing the US, it poses a threat to our country. We are creating more enemies that our children will have to face. The US military forces are probably the chief threats to family life in this country and currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also one of the chief sources of destruction to the environment. Each death and serious injury to an American, Iraqi, and Afghan in these current wars represents significant harm done to a family in one of those countries.
We must remember three other things about war also. 1st - If having weapons and armies was going to make the world a safer place, this would be the safest time in all human history. There are more weapons available than ever before. They are deadlier than ever and more people have access to them, but the world is not safer. It's more dangerous with more people being killed and injured on a daily basis. 2nd - Military violence has exactly the same kind of effect on human bodies and human relationships as any other kind of violence you can name: street violence, gang violence, sexual violence, drug violence, violence based on racism or other forms of discrimination, criminal violence, etc. If any of those is wrong, they are all wrong, simply because of the effect they have on human beings.
3rd - Ninety percent of all the victims of war since WW2 have been innocent civilians which means that any time the US military (or any military) goes of to war they will be primarily killing and injuring women, children, and other innocent people. Forty-two percent of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan are under the age of fifteen so any attack on those countries is primarily an attack on children and teenagers. If we can't find a better way to address our differences with other countries than by killing their children, then we need to go back to the drawing board and start over, because killing children is, in my opinion, unacceptable behavior for any civilized country. Actions like the current US military violence against Iraq and Afghanistan weakens our country. Because of Iraq, Afghanistan, our intrusions into Central and South America, and Vietnam, billions of people in the world see the US as a rogue nation and one of the chief threats to peace in this world. That is NOT a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. It a US weakness that has come about from having access to too much military violence.
Some countries have devoted comparatively little resources to their miltary forces and still have not been invaded as a result for example, Switzerland and Costa Rica. When a country's military is over funded and over emphasized they are tempted to intrude in countries for reasons that have nothing to do with defense, which is why we (the US) is now mired in the current wars.

Much that you write is true. Bullies have to be stopped. Often the problem is bad management who refuses to recognize bullying as a serious problem, perhaps because management is also made up of bullies.
I've read excerpts of your blog and will be reading more of it. Thanks for writing. Have a great week.


Leonard Nolt