As a political psychologist I have clarified the complex psychological underpinnings of human political attitudes. These attitudes virtually define the liberal and conservative worldviews. They also show that strong liberals and strong conservatives, as groups, are actually rather close together on virtually all dimensions of political discourse, strange as that may seem.
These attitudes include religious beliefs, which tend to fall into two clusters that are referred to in the literature as fundamentalist on the one hand and as kindly religious beliefs (in my terminology) on the other. The fundamentalist orientation correlates positively and substantially with warmongering endorsement.
With this background in mind, I have my “antennas” up for new ideas. Consider the following:
The recent EgyptAir jetliner loss in the Mediterranean Sea smacked of continuing terrorism, highlighting the futility of our military efforts in the Middle East. A successful business owner friend of mine here in Eugene migrated to the U.S. 30 years ago from his childhood homeland in the Middle East. He continues to lose relatives to that military mayhem, recently a cousin by shelling in Aleppo.
He cares deeply about the Middle East and studies it carefully. He believes the religious factions are so numerous and complex that resolution by either conventional or radical military means is impractical.
He believes the only solution is to follow India’s example of simply outlawing any religious leader teachings of violence and killing as an expression of religion. Imams got the message in India and radical Muslim violence was prevented.
In the Middle East we’ve tried to impose resolution with the most powerful military in the world for a dozen years but without success (an informal definition of neurosis is repeating the same unsuccessful behaviors over and over, expecting a different outcome).
Building on our immigrant citizen’s ideas, it has occurred to me that we might make membership in the U.N. very appealing. And require member nations to have constitutions that explicitly prohibit religious-based violence. Violation of this requirement would result in suspension of U.N. benefits until the violence is resolved.
Bad idea? Then come up with a better one. But don’t persist in our militaristic Middle East foreign policy, expecting a different outcome. That’s proving to be as crazy as our violent misadventure in South Vietnam.
Bill McConochie is a contributing writer for Our Times. Holding a Ph.D. in psychology, Bill is in private practice in Eugene, OR and specializes in clinical, industrial/organizational and political psychology. His most recent book, Party Time! How you can create common good democracy right now, is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.