Bob Herbert wrote another excellent column for the New York Times on Afghanistan. This piece highlights the terrible toll on our young people caused by giving and receiving violence:
We’ve already paid a fearful price for these wars. In addition to the many thousands of service members who have been killed or suffered obvious disabling injuries, a study by the RAND Corporation found that some 300,000 are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, and that 320,000 have most likely experienced a traumatic brain injury.
Time magazine has reported that “for the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Suicides among soldiers rose in 2008 for the fourth consecutive year, largely because of the stress of combat deployments. It’s believed that 128 soldiers took their own lives last year.
Despite what we are told by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, humans are not designed to be violent, nor designed to thrive in violent scenarios. War is not a “natural” expression of human psychology. In 1986, 20 psychologists, sociologists and other social scientists signed the Seville Statement on Violence which contained five propositions:
IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY INCORRECT to say that:
- we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.
- war or any other violent behaviour is genetically programmed into our human nature.
- in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behaviour more than for other kinds of behaviour.
- humans have a ‘violent brain’.
- war is caused by ‘instinct’ or any single motivation.
Biology and psychology give us no excuse for our wars. War is one specific, perverse way of participating in large-group conflict, and there are realistic alternatives. War is not an exercise blessed by God. It’s not even good for your mind. War and other violence cause human beings to warp themselves and others. The result: more and more troops kill themselves every year as we grind them into the sand, snow and blood in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This nonsense has gone on long enough. Tell the president and your members of Congress that it’s time to bring all of them home. And then look for ways to disrupt this idiocy.