The screenplay for the film Munich (2005) was adapted from George Jonas’ book Vengeance by Tony Kushner and directed by Steven Spielberg. “This isn’t a somber memorial to the eleven Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, but a clear and powerful elucidation of the current cycle of violence in the Middle East, echoing acts of retribution through the ages.”
The Israeli’s were killed by Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli government seeks revenge by hiring professional assassins to kill the terrorists, “with Golda Meir’s blessing.” Meir justifies her decision with the rationalization, “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.” Like many revenge and counter-revenge situations the tragedy begins to grow in complexity. “Meanwhile the Palestinians respond with bombings and hijackings of their own as their fallen leaders are replaced by ever more rigid ideologues. This is what’s called “a dialogue,” to quote one especially potent line; the sum of that dialogue is death and the sides are still having animated discussions to this day.”
So what’s happening in this film? Is it about religious conflict, or competing claims to sacred land, or ancient claims to territory, or humans hardwired to be violent, or ethnic animosities of long-standing, or competition to control the oil in the region? The answer is not all of the above, in fact it is none of the above. If we try to understand these Capulet-Montague, Hatfield-McCoy feuds according to the conventional explanations—we can expect to be lamenting the same horror stories 100 years from now—no understanding and no solutions.
Here is what’s happening and why. The “dialogue of death” is pointless unless the context that contains it is radically changed. In a word, the human community must strive to begin a dialogue contained in the larger human narrative of Oneness. That is to say, all human beings and all creation are inter-related and inter-dependent. This must be our first realization and it is inane and unconscious not to begin all discussions in this context. Having established this as the common worldview, then we can see that continuing along the old trajectory of solution seeking would be insane.
Secondly, as human beings, we must assume a new identity. The differences among human beings that are used to justify violence are simply an expression of the natural universal principle of diversity. It is a healthy thing in other words. It provides all of us with a world that is wonderfully rich, exciting and beautiful. It is madness to want to somehow, through intolerance and coercion, reduce that diversity and force any kind of conformity. We should celebrate rather than try to destroy those who are different in any way.
Why are we unable to find peace on earth after 30,000 years of so-called “civilization”? It’s because we ignore or are unmindful of the reality of our identity as human beings. Human consciousness has several layers that must be considered in any attempt to fundamentally alter human behavior. Each person has a personal consciousness which is false-self dominated. The false self contains a natural if unhealthy motivation to attain power, security and to experience sensations. These three highly energetic drives are created in early childhood and are natural but must be transcended in adulthood if humanity is to have a sustainable future.
Each individual also has a shadow which powerfully influences his behavior. These are unconscious contents that have been repressed and emerge autonomously throughout our lives in usually destructive behaviors especially if we are unaware of its existence. It is the existence of this shadow that causes us to see other human being as the other. The other is a human being or group onto which we want to project our shadow by way of disowning it. The word scapegoat has great relevance here, as in the Jews were the scapegoat for the collective shadow of the Palestinians in our film. To allow our shadow-driven behaviors to determine the course of human interactions is an unnecessary tragedy.
Finally, there is the collective unconscious which is explained again by the profound connection that we all have to each other. We are all influenced, again unconsciously, by the past experience of the human race. In addition to the collective shadow there are powerful complexes that drive bewildering human behaviors, both collectively and individually. We must become more aware of these influences or risk continuing to behave as a people mesmerized, lemmings rushing toward an unseen precipice.
We have described a worldview, a paradigm, which is radically different from the one that we are contained in today and yet many of the wisest philosophers, scientists, psychologists, saints, mythologists and mystics will corroborate our thesis. We must shift paradigm, we must switch to a more profound parallel universe, or we will perish. Humanity cannot long sustain the unconscious and insane behavior that has characterized our story on this planet.
References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.