Thursday, October 11, 2007


I frequently hear certain sectors of American and World opinion blame the United States of America for the majority of the worlds woes today. One Malaysian gentleman I know suggested that the "Islamicist Problem", aka Terrorism, is probably the result of American greed, violence and arrogance. Others are likening George Bush to Adolf Hitler and America to Nazi Germany.

Many of the anti-American opinions cite the atrocities of Columbus and other European explorers, the Puritan Christians and Europeans in general. I read an article recently by a well known journalist who used Columbus Day as an opportunity to prove that Columbus set the tone with his abuses at Hispaniola, and that ever since, we Americans have been uniquely violent and rapacious. He made it sound like we Euro-Americans are uniquely genocidal, rapists, slavers and violent land-grabbers. In my opinion this is based on what appears to be either an ignorance of, or an ignoring of world history. These violent and selfish traits are not unique to American culture. These traits are universally archetypal (Martian in Greek mythology, Shiva/Durga in Indian mythology, etc.) and have been typical of various human cultures since recorded history.

I remember studying Ancient Near Eastern history in seminary and marveling at the violent war policies of Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans - perpetrated by both males and females. These qualities are not unique to Christian America. We know that when the Pagans were in power, they destroyed all things Christian; when the Christians were in power, they destroyed all things Pagan. The major terrifying difference today, as I see it, is not the uniqueness of an evil American culture, but the post-industrial means we moderns have to more effectively do what humans throughout history have always done.

Another writer recently wrote, "We (Americans) live in a culture that includes the principle that if somebody else has something we need, and they won't give it to us, and we have the means to kill them to get it, it's not unreasonable to go get it, using whatever force we need to." He too made it sound like this is a uniquely American problem, and as if the world would become a haven of peace and love if America would change her ways.


Jane Goodall said the following about chimps and apes, " males regularly patrol the perimeter of their territory, act hostile toward chimps from other communities/groups, commit brutal attacks by multiple members of one group against lone members of another, and males try to extend territory and gradually invade neighboring territories."

Others have noticed that Chimps nervously invade fields and steal papayas. Howard Bloom in The Global Brain says that mammals in general ostracize and attempt to eliminate those who are different, even from their own communities. Wolverines urinate on any food they cannot eat so that other animals can't have it. Male Bottlenose Dolphins gang rape female dolphins and bully porpoises for fun. Female Black Widow spiders sometimes kill and cannibalize thier male partners after mating.

So then it appears to me that such actions are universally archetypal, and not unique to a particular culture, or humans in general for that matter. That doesn't mean that all cultures practice these behaviors at all times or even equally, or that such practices are right, acceptable or excusable. But it does mean that the Ideas or Archetypal Imagos of Violence, Genocide, Annihilation and Theft, as well as Truth, Beauty, Justice and Compassion, et al, were around long before the human being appeared, and will remain long after humans disappear. The Cosmos has been a destructive, roiling, violent affair since at least the Big Bang went POOF! As Plato pointed out long ago, like Math and Music, these universal archetypes are the paints on the palette of Psyche or Soul-making. The game we play on planet earth, even the larger game of the whole cosmos, includes all of these personified actions, intentions and behaviors. They did not appear because of Original Sin (as Christians suggest) or because of selfish egos (as New Agers suggest), and certainly are not unique to Americans and American culture.

My problem is not with trying to put an end to ecological and humanitarian atrocities, but with some of the means used by both liberals and conservatives; one blames American culture/Christianity for all of the world's problems, the other sees America/Christianity as nearly perfect. Both are ego-centric and their means are off as I see it.

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