Alright, I confess, this essay is deliberately provocative but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true, because it is. We Americans like to think that we are brave, even courageous but we are not. Most of us just go along with the latest self-deceptions and our own jaded habit patterns rather than thinking for ourselves and following our better instincts. In fact, we would rather not hear the still, small voice within, our conscience or the wisdom of our better selves. It would disturb us. It would ask of us to step away from the herd mentality, to think and become self-reliant. Groupthink seems to be easier and safer—but it is cowardly.
This essay and Heartless Cowards in America both consider the relationship between courage and cowardice. We cannot say that Americans have been cowards for failing to choose a more courageous expression of their national identity if, in fact, they have been unaware that a choice existed. However, we are all aware, even if only in fleeting moments, that something doesn’t feel right about our personal behaviors and the way we have gone about expressing our national interests. Profound change is needed and Simple Reality takes away our excuse. We are no longer ignorant of the fact that there is a different choice for us personally and as a nation. We have only to find the courage to make that choice. Or we can go back to sleep.
Example: the war in Vietnam. By 1954, France was losing its imperialist empire as were all the European nations beginning in the years following World War II. This was part of the natural evolution of the history of world cultures and involved the principle of self-determination that Western democracies cherished for themselves but could not champion for their “colonies.” Simple greed was the reason, for the most part, for trying to hang on to colonies as sources of wealth. Another reason was the fear of the spread of Communism.
After the French were driven out in 1954, the U.S. stepped in to take their place to stop the spread of Communism. The leaders of our government and the military-industrial complex had an agenda that was justified by the domino theory, a P-B illusion. The domino theory held that the fall of one nation to Communism would be followed by the fall of its neighbor like dominoes, until Communism had taken over the world. The reality of human behavior would disprove this belief.
The Vietnamese were centuries-old enemies of the Chinese whom they would have fought as vigorously to defend their national identity as they did in resisting the U.S. presence. Communism was not a monolithic “movement” that would unite all the nations of Eastern Europe and Asia in a Super Communist block. Nationalism was and is the dominant energy that drives the behavior of nations then just as it does today. Had we left the Asian nations to sort out their own balance of power dilemmas, we would have seen the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese, etc. scheming among themselves to fulfill their national goals, protecting their future in their own “Asian sphere of interest.” Everything would have ended up pretty much as it is today and we could have spared 60,000 American lives and billions of dollars.
So the Americans who fought in the war and who without thinking “went along with” the ignorant, power-hungry and greed-driven political leadership were unaware of the choices that might have caused them pause. Those young Americans who bravely volunteered to fight Communism in the Indo-China peninsula were being sacrificed to the belief (the domino theory) generated by the P-B narrative. Other Americans responding to the deeper instincts of an alarmed conscience refused to fight. Making that choice was perhaps more courageous than blindly following the “patriotic” majority.
Now let’s broaden the indictment of cowardice to the entire nation today—yes—both men and women. We as a nation and as individuals are in the thrall of an ego or false self that wants us to blindly follow its agenda. That agenda is to remain unconscious and to distract ourselves by pursuing security (accumulating material things), sensation (substance addictions, e.g. alcohol and process addictions e.g. gambling), and power (manipulating others for our own selfish purposes—think Halliburton, Goldman Sachs and yesterday’s Enron).
Our culture is, in fact, defined by these dysfunctional behaviors which keep us from waking up to the reality of life. We all know something is wrong but we keep busy gratifying the false self so that we can’t hear or feel the somewhat irritating warnings of our intuition. We are afraid of what acknowledging Simple Reality would lead to. We would have to have the courage to change and we don’t want to have to entertain that possibility, to make that choice. We are a nation of cowards!
______________________________________________________________________Much more can be found in the book Simple Reality: The Key to Serenity and Survival, available for purchase on Amazon.com.