In my life I have had the strange fate of unintentionally meeting or getting to know several soldiers or ex-soldiers. Years ago, one man even came up to me randomly on the street after he had returned from Afganistan and started talking about his experience.
From reflecting on these experiences I have learned the following:
1 That the basic natural human instinct is not to kill other human beings and that main purpose of military training is to function as a mechanism to overcome this basic human instinct.
2 That going to war fulfills many deep archetypal needs in a man’s psyche for excitement, brotherhood and a sense of purpose. If we want less war we somehow need to make peace as awe inspiring, heroic, strange and mythical as war is. Men need to gather together in warrior brotherhood. Men need to go intentionally into the wilderness to listen to their own inner impulses and to find their calling and sacred purpose in life
3 At the moment the attraction of the military to young men is that it appears to have a monopoly on values such as discipline, focus, self cultivation and so on. If we want less war, discipline, focus and the cultivation of warrior values need to become widespread in everyday life and applied to peaceful egalitarian non-violent purposes.
4 That war is a substitute for being able to express both our vulnerability and our aggression. War is a substitute for not being able to express our most frightening, socially unacceptable and hidden feelings
6 That war is at root a substitute for non violent confrontation with people we don’t like or parts of ourselves we don’t like.