Just a thought about the human race. I’ve traveled extensively in my life, touched down on four continents, many cities. What I’ve found in these places is the same thing that many wanderers have found for centuries. Everywhere you go, you will find good people. People are naturally welcoming, inclusive, helpful, interested, and generous, no matter where they live. One on one, human beings seem to intrinsically be able to connect with each other and seem to gravitate toward common interests and away from cultural differences.
Then, every so often, we all take up arms, pick a target, and go about the business of killing each other and destroying each others’ homes and livelihood. You’ve seen photos of medieval warriors, dough boys in the trenches, face-painted jungle fighters, scruffy grey-clad farmers down south. Remember, these are the same people who just had you over for dinner, asked about your kids, and sent you off with a hug and a promise to do it all again sometime. Why? What accounts for such an apparently schizophrenic behavior?
I propose an explanation that I call the Asshole Factor. This theory maintains that any given population has a ratio of assholes to general populace. The ratio basically is a constant cross-culturally, although it does seem a bit higher among the Euro-American civilizations, perhaps because their political and financial systems are based on a God-given duty to be an asshole and set this world straight. Now the average asshole is nothing more than an irritant when viewed in the big picture, you know, the guy who jumps ahead of you in line, the woman who cuts you off in traffic because she’s on the cell phone and then flips you the bird as an extra reward for her transgression. These assholes are a dime-a-dozen, in fact, we are all capable on any given day of ourselves exhibiting assholedness, as we bear witness to it so frequently that we unconsciously absorb its basic components and tendencies
Every so often, however, there is a confluence of genetic predisposition, birth circumstance, childhood trauma, acquired sense of entitlement and profuse ill-will that results in the production of what I will term the Super Asshole. Among this group you will find kings, pharoahs, dictators, generals, industrialists, land speculators, and a variety of other assholes engaged in a plethora of predatory professions. Since these people already have the predilection to assholeosity, they are poised to generate mayhem when that tendency is enabled by positions of power and influence. So when the SAs decide it is their turn to make a profit, expand, or otherwise exert their influence to act, they concoct wars which are fought by the mainstream populations. They will tell us with whom we are currently at war, why it is so (although this is always a public relations concoction) and then they will hand out guns and weapons and let us have a go at it. Suddenly the guy who otherwise would be offering you tea and pastry in his home is in the crosshairs of your night vision laser scope.
Do the Super Assholes ever actually fight these wars? Do they get bombed? Do they lose their homes? Do they suffer the ravages of post-war in the aftermath? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO. What they will do, however, is throw a parade, erect some monuments, give out some medals and offer disingenuous words of praise for the fallen and their sacrifice. They prey on the emotional sensitivity of the victims and actually use the fragile condition of the shaken people to generate fear, anger and righteousness which they can exploit the next time they need to jump-start the money machine again. Here’s my favorite trick of theirs: They create jobs in the industries which produce weaponry and tools of destruction, jobs which are gratefully held by those that are survivors of the last war and cannon-fodder for the next one. Ingenious! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Super A’s count out their profits and figure out the next move in the bloody chess game which they seem to enjoy so. Over a nice dinner. With a vintage bottle of wine. What a racket!
The moral: When people start to listen to themselves instead of assholes, there will be peace in the valley.