Email forwards, Patriotism, Critical Thinking

High emotion email fwds. 

Patriotism. Troop support. The reality of war.

Critical Thinking.

Dear Readers!

In a culture that enjoys emotional ‘hit’ of many email fwds, the rule is: “If you received this and don’t pass it along, there is something wrong with your thinking.” Instructions are often included: “Don’t ask questions, hit ‘fwd’, click every person in your contact list, hit ‘send’.

 A favorite theme of these fwds is patriotism and troop support. A recently received fwd used a Maxine cartoon illustration. I have no idea if the creator of Maxine wrote the accompanying two-pronged message. The message, in typical large colored font, first gave ire against “too liberal” attitudes toward “undocumented workers”. It shifted to a call to support our troops.

 One recipient posted an essay reply, and in point by point form argued for distinction between feeling and expressing support for individual soldiers caught in a powerful and nasty situation, and “supporting troops” as “patriotic duty”. The essay writer objected to mindless shouting about troop support without raising hard questions on why we are in a war.  Kudos to that writer!

 Here’s my stand on fwds that mix 1- compassion and respect for real humans caught in an unbelievably nasty life event, with 2- unquestioning emotionally driven patriotism. I hope I do not sound too harsh on a sensitive topic. :

 I participate in no public ‘venues’ that make a point of “supporting our troops” because the generic interpretation, in my experience, means “approval without question” of the whole premise and activity of whatever specific war is the focus. My refusal includes not passing along email ‘fwd’s. 

 I refuse even though I recognize individual soldiers are doing their best to minimize damage to themselves and others. My thoughts and heart go out to these soldiers, and to their families at home. Both are caught in a high-conflict emotional requirement to believe in what is happening, or face an agony of believing lives may be sacrificed for no good purpose. 

 I am outraged that wars are “cooked up”, general population “pumped up”, and youth sent to kill/be killed.   I have my own agony experience in my awareness that we march about the globe believing “collateral losses,” in countries in which we wage war, are “unfortunate unavoidable consequence”.  I mean collateral loss that includes maiming, debilitation and death of our own, as well as maiming, debilitation and death – along with destruction of any practical societal infrastructure – of real people, in real communities, in the countries directly impacted. 

 I am grieved by public practice within our own borders that willingly sets aside awareness of reality for all involved “on the ground” in war situations.  It seems we practice a well-known psychological compartmentalization cognitive device.  We pretend humanity’s promise can be realized by brutality to one another, or we pretend our promise is not significantly hampered by discreet episodes of “unavoidable” violence, War A, War B, etc. 

 We know better – in our hearts most certainly, and in our minds too – which is why we rely on “compartmentalization” as psychological device.

 We seem willing to assert our “authority” by means of military force. We seem to have no modesty, no restraint, no self-awareness of what actually motivates us.  No capacity to appreciate the horror of war. If we did, we would be more sharply alert to manipulative ploys bent to persuade us to support warring in the name of “our superior understanding”.  

 (We can scarcely see through manipulative language of advertising and politics!  We repeat the language to one another on all fronts! We make poor showing of capacity to think critically, of individual freedom of mind and thought, in many of our cultural and sub-cultural group activities!)

 For the most part, we are unable to relate to the rest of the world (including its villains, some of whom certainly exist outside our borders), as “one family, like it or not”.  Whatever compassion any of us feels toward any of our troops —  each and every civilian, and countless youthful soldiers, of the “enemy,” merit the same. 

 I am not saying blunt force to threat is never justified, I am saying it is never a “first response” answer, and belongs at the bottom of a long list of strategies to resolve issues. I am also saying preemptive blunt force to perceived threat does not belong on the list at all.

 If one wants to study and observe blunt force response in adult communities, the venue of choice might be the more rugged pubs and bars, where we can witness behavior leading to battles nearly always less life-threatening, “mere” fist-a-cuffs. What we can notice, as we observe, is that “egoic concern over image, and mindless response to stimulus” is at work, (in this case supported by over-indulgence in alcohol).

 In a pub brawl, “loss of practice of critical thinking”, at least has ready explanation!

My Best, with heartfelt wishes for the day we humans find our way to resolving conflict without the horror of war. I believe in us!  We can do this!  –MaggieAnn

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About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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One Response to Email forwards, Patriotism, Critical Thinking

  1. Capri says:

    Well put, MaggieAnn, thanks! I’m putting a link to your post in my “Memorable Posts” section of the forums on my own site. Forwards are designed to yank people’s emotions so hard that it turns off the rational thought process, and why do forwards do this? Simply to get people spreading them along. Whatever the content, if it’s a heart-strangler and super button-pusher, people won’t think, they’ll just forward.
    Thank you for your comments, Capri, and for linking. Your site was unknown to me until your comment here. The “thought stirring” you foster is valuable and needed! –MA

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