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Power and Purpose
by Jan Sand
2006-09-25 08:21:34
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There is no one more dangerous, more vicious, more unrelenting and more ignorant about the uses and consequences of unchecked power than a sheep in wolf’s clothing. A wolf is well acquainted with its strength and has the confidence of the power of its teeth and claws and uses these instruments with understanding and purpose and care. It knows well the tragedy of a wolf’s existence who must butcher the helpless to stay alive.

A disguised sheep in its self doubt and determination to establish its fake courage and dominance thinks it knows all about this and exercises a universal viciousness far beyond what a wolf would do. When a wolf surrenders to a wolf it bares its throat to the victor and the victor does not slash it. A wolf costumed sheep shows no such reluctance.

A man summoned to war undergoes changes when confronted with the duty and necessity to murder. I am guessing but it seems to me that most men have instincts of decency. There is, of course, a contingent that is insensitive to inflicting cruelty and death and can even enjoy it and the officially determined ambience of war demotes the enemy out of the human species but I doubt civil life would be possible if decent men were not in the majority.

At worst civil life can generate a desire not to notice, not to act, not to repair the deficiencies that society inflicts on the helpless and the unlucky. To wit, the famous remark by Burke that all that evil needs do to triumph is that good men do nothing. But doing nothing is not the prerogative of a soldier. And good men see their respected and necessary and admired companions injured and murdered in the course of the conflict and the hard reality of survival conditions their actions. Continuous subjugation to the cruelties of war frequently instils an enthusiasm in giving as hard as they received or harder to brutal excess.

The environment of enforced extreme cruelty does many awful things to the most decent of people but I have heard over and over that even the seemingly untouched remain deeply wounded psychologically. Frequently they do not talk about what they have had to do. And subsequent to the conflict many return to the scenes where they had battled and meet and become friends and admirers of those they were previously set to kill. Even, on occasion, during the conflict, when common humanity overwhelmed the embattled men, such as in the famous Christmas interim in the First World War, the fighters can momentarily return to sanity and decency and compassion.

But sheep in power whose bones and guts and deepest thoughts are inlaid with fear have fear as their favourite instrument and compose melodies and symphonies with the drumbeat and trumpets of fear because fear is a ring in the nose of the uninformed so that they can be led to do the stupidest, most ignorant, most dangerous, most destructive most awful things. Fear gives them power to do whatever insane idiotic purpose wiggles out of their twisted mentalities and this is the tragedy of our world today.

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