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A future without war

Last month I had a very interesting and unusual CMPE. Usually, they comment on situations in my personal life, but this one was about the future of warfare. Here is what happened:

On the morning of April 13, I read a post on NHNE Near-Death Experience Network. It was from an NDEr Rudi Rudenski and he said:

When I was a soldier, we plotted and schemed about killing others…The wars we planned are ongoing even to this day… After my NDE, I could see there were human beings in all the collateral damage… We were not heroes at all…. Killing someone would be like cutting off my own arm as we all a part of a whole. Killing the opponent is only half the story… but the human beings who are just at the wrong place at the wrong time…make war an impossible game…. They should make a place where those who want to play war can go to play general and soldier….Where children will not get in the way of their fantasies…. I know when I was young, I dreamed of bombing the Kremlin. Perhaps some boys like me are just hard-wired to be killers…. Maybe it is okay to be that way? But they should make rules that never let those that don’t include letting those who don’t want to play war getting in the way of their fun. Let them all, those who want to play war, go and fight somewhere away from those who don’t until there are none left who do. This might take a few generations to do but I hope one day there will be no more war… In the the last ages of the world… I saw a world full of light… There were no wars… Perhaps we are the souls who wanted the soap opera experience of living in a war-torn World?

About one minute later, I was looking at my daily email from the New York Times and saw this featured quote:

“If they can go fight in a war, they should be able to fight in a cage if they’d like.”

KEITH MINER, a mixed martial arts fighter from Texas, on amputees, some of whom are from the military, who are pursuing careers in mixed martial arts.

This sounded eerily similar, so I read the article. It was about amputees who are fighting in the mixed martial arts circuit. The main character in the article was born with a left arm that ends three inches below the elbow. Another man in the article lost an arm in a wood chipper. But many of the amputees entering mixed martial arts are veterans. Here is how the article ended:

Miner noted how a steady stream of martial arts fighters is emerging from military hospitals in Texas, damaged by war but newly versed in state-of-the-art limb substitutions and carrying a desire to remain physical.

“There are a lot of soldiers coming back and a lot of amputees starting to train,” Miner said. “They’ll run into a lot of the same issues we have.”

He added, “If they can go fight in a war, they should be able to fight in a cage if they’d like.”

The article’s main focus was on the difficulties these men face in the sport. These include other fighters refusing to fight them (to avoid the humiliation of being beaten by an amputee), and the sport itself trying to figure out how the rules apply to these guys. For instance, should these fighters be granted a license, or does their medical condition put them at risk of serious injury?

Obviously, the article had nothing to do with Rudi’s big point about the future of warfare. Still, there were impressive similarities on the level of the details. Here are the parallels I came up with:

1. Men fighting in war.

2. Men losing a limb in war. The focus is specifically on men who are missing an arm.

3. These men have a need to fight, whether inside or outside an actual war.

4. These men should be given a special place to fight, outside of conventional wars.

5. This would be in a game situation where no one but the combatants can be hurt.

6. There is a focus on the rules of this place.

The parallels, while they miss the meat of Rudi’s idea, are like dots scattered all over it, like a connect-the-dots drawing. I can’t help but think that the CMPE is there to confirm the rightness of his overall idea.

The message of the CMPE, then, is that war is deeply misguided. Killing another is not heroic, but really is like cutting off your own arm. Despite this fact, though, there are men who are, so to speak, hard-wired for warfare, no matter what its cost. What we’ve traditionally done is let them instigate and fight in actual wars, where the cost to humanity is immense, including untold collateral damage. But what we can do instead is acknowledge the need in these men to fight, and set up special arenas, circumscribed theaters, in which the war is not real, in which the fighting is just a game. They still get to express the urge to wage war, but without any cost to humanity. This is a way in which humanity can both realistically acknowledge the “need” for war and transition out of war. This is a way in which we can reach a point, generations from now, in which there are no more wars, and humanity is on its way to living in a world full of light.

There is a certain brilliance to the idea, I think. Perhaps that is why I had a CMPE about it. It is quite interesting to me to see the signs lift above their usual focus on personal issues. It’s extremely helpful to get a message that tells me, for instance, which house to move into. But it’s kind of beautiful to get a message about how the world can move beyond warfare, on its way to becoming a “world full of light.”

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