The Viral Infection of War

It’s Sunday evening meditation again. 8pm UK time, 7pm GMT, 9pm in W Europe and 2pm EST. For half an hour.

Wherever you are, you’re welcome to join us.

All the details are here:

And here’s a thought. I’m not certain about this, but it’s worth contemplating. In the world’s collective psyche, there’s a certain amount of infection with the psychological thought-virus of war. On the whole, it cannot spread and grow any more than the host body, humanity, will allow – the extent to which it is susceptible. But this thought-virus does not decrease unless humanity as a whole shifts its values to build increased immunity to it.

I’m not talking about conscious thoughts or thought-through policies or actions. It’s on an unconscious level. But I’ve sometimes noticed how, when a conflict subsides in one area, another conflict will come up elsewhere, as if the virus hops from an arena where people have developed immunity (often exhaustion and a desire for normality), to an area where the population is susceptible. It will be vulnerable because of divisive politics, ethnic tensions, oligarchic manipulation, outside intervention and proxy-warring, and sometimes outright madness.

I first noticed this in 1990, when the long Lebanese civil war ended and the multiple wars that broke out as the former Yugoslavia disintegrated.

This dynamic happens in other ways too, and we’ve recently had an example. It’s as if the outbreak of war in Sudan has vacuumed up some of the available violence energy, draining some of it away from Ukraine, where a much talked-about escalation of conflict isn’t really happening – some of its motivating energy has been siphoned off by Sudan.

Sometimes the grief that is experienced in conflicts can be overridden by other forms of grief. This we see in eastern Congo at pesent, where recent flooding has sucked much of the energy out of the complex conflict there. it has shifted the emotional focus.

The recent earthquake in Syria came at a time when the Syrian civil war was subsiding, converting the sump of conflict-grief in Syria into another kind of tragedy. On the other hand, in 1999, earthquakes in both Turkiye and Greece brought a simmering longterm conflict between them to an end.

So if we look at humanity’s collective psyche as an enormous, seething ball of blobs, representing mindsets, and interweaving threads, representing themes and issues, all in perpetual motion, then on the whole there will be a fluctuating balance over time between different forces at work.

This includes positive and multifaceted beliefs too – at times there can be outbursts of negativity or positivity which, over time, balance out. Though despite this, there will also be a slow net shift of values happening underneath. In the last century or so, deaths and injuries from conflict, seen in proportion to the size of population, have actually been decreasing significantly.

It’s useful looking at things this way. This isn’t about Russians and Ukrainians, Democrats or Republicans or the people and the regime: it’s about conflict and polarisation, whoever the current puppets and victims are, and whatever they’re in conflict over – which, to confuse things, might not even be the same issue for each side. It affects all of us variously.

So when we look at current events, it’s important to step back, looking behind and underneath those reported events at the underlying dynamics prompting them. One interesting polarity which I have been personally experiencing is this: strangely, as world population has risen (and dramatically so in recent decades) so too has social isolation and loneliness. That is, with much of the world feeling crowded out with other people, a compensating grouping of isolated people has been growing too.

Even so, those with busy lives and lots of people to relate to will often have a shallowness of relationship leading to an underlying loneliness, even if well-distracted, while those with lots of time tend to be factually isolated, left behind in distant villages or shut in unknown rooms, and they feel it in a different way.

We live also in a world where there are hunger and obesity, and extremes of wealth and poverty, advantage and disadvantage. The issue here is that these polarities have become more extreme, and the natural relationship between them has dwindled – and they live in different worlds.

Same planet, different worlds. Yet even though New York City and the Tian Shan mountains are like different worlds, and though our current obsession with identity obscures our common ground, we are all unwitting participants in one planetary group psyche.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Thought for the day.

Love, Paldywan.