Judith Hand on Shifting our Thinking about War…
A few months ago we had on anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez to discuss, among other things, violence, aggression, and war and how it relates to human nature. Some of the questions on that topic we asked included, Is war making inevitable? Why do we make war? Have we always made war? And, can we ever get to a time when there will be no more war? Evolutionary Biologist Judith Hand has been working on these questions for a long time, and we discussed war and other aspects of human nature with her on Equal Time in the past. We have invited her back today to discuss her new book, SHIFT: The Beginning of War and The Ending of War.
We are a culture besieged by violence. Everyday we hear stories of mass shootings or stabbings, of a rising violent crime rate, of vigilantism, and we have been marred in one war or another since the birth of this nation… resulting in the maiming or killing of millions (usually far less Americans than those we target).
When peace activists, humanists, or even average citizens – tired of all the violence and war – try to speak out against the insanity, we are told human beings are violent by nature. We are shown right-leaning works of social science which prove our bloody history to be the norm, not an anomaly, and told it goes back 50,000 years or more. We are told that war is either in our genes, or even something which is needed for homo sapien sapien to have balance in our societies. Even those who admit “war is hell” are pretty sure it is also inevitable; consequently they, and many in our society, feel those of us looking toward a peaceful, egalitarian, humanistic society without warfare are utopians living in a reality of our own inception… peaceniks left over from the radical 60s who have not grown up and who would be better served trying to help others within our current, often dysfunctional society, rather than demand another kind of world…
But what are humans REALLY like? What does the science ACTUALLY say? We will be speaking with evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez about these questions and more on the next edition of Equal Time for Freethought!
David Swanson – War is a Lie
“This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete. So is the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It is a planetary imperative to reduce the level of military expenditures and turn these savings to peaceful and people-oriented uses.” -Humanist Manifesto II
“This book (War is a Lie) is every American’s best defense against the greatest danger we face as human beings: the threat of war. (David) Swanson reveals how American leaders (from both major political parties) have confused the public to create the illusion of consent for endless destruction and slaughter. Behind the fear-mongering, flag-waving and lies of George W. Bush and the blandishments of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama lies the ugly reality that our leaders have been seduced by political ambition, delusions of military superiority, and the promise of secrecy and impunity to commit otherwise unthinkable crimes.” — Nicolas J. S. Davies, Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.
Cindy Sheehan is widely known – and loved – for being the courageous mother who refused to accept the BIG LIE that her son, Casey, died for a “noble cause” in the Iraq war. Instead, she camped out on Bush’s ranch and refused to leave as long as he refused to meet with her, each day calling more attention to the illegitimacy of his wars.
But, what most people don’t know is that Cindy Sheehan, once a Roman Catholic, is now a humanist.
This week on Equal Time for Freethought, Sunsara Taylor will interview Cindy Sheehan and explore her journey away from the church and organized religion. They will discuss Cindy’s views on humanism and what meaning she finds in working to change the real world – in struggling and sacrificing to put an end to the horrors the US empire is inflicting on innocents around the world and upon the young people it is turning into cannon fodder and war criminals.
For many secular folks, religion can’t hold a candle to the morality that Cindy Sheehan has exhibited – and inspired in others – in turning her own horrendous grief and loss into fuel for a world without such cruelties.
“On Human Nature and the Potential for Peace” w/ Anthropologist Douglas Fry
This program aired in honor of Universal Peace Day!
A few weeks ago on Equal Time for Freethought, Arnell Dowret interviewed two social scientists and a bio-engineer on the validity and importance of social science – what it can tell us about human nature, whether or not it was a rigorous enough a science to inform us on how to develop healthier societies, and if all the recent attacks on it by skeptics, evolutionary psychologists, and indeed some social scientists, have been deserved or not. It is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that by the end of the program, the validity of the social sciences had been fairly proven – with all due respect to the bio-engineer participant.
Still, if my experience discussing social science and human nature – particularly with regards to violence, warlike behavior, authoritarianism and selfishness – with scientifically and politically serious people on Facebook is any indication on where many people today stand on the validity of social science… things look weak at best for those defending sciences like sociology, anthropology and psychology.
And while I have found, without much surprise, that most people who reject social science tend to be political centrists, conservatives or r-libertarians, I have also found what seems to be a deep suspicion of the merits of these sciences even from those left of center. – Barry F. Seidman
Douglas P. Fry teaches in the Faculty of Social and Caring Sciences at Abo Akademi University in Finland and is an adjunct research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. A renowned anthropologist and a leading authority on aggression, conflict, and conflict resolution, he has worked in this field for over twenty-five years and has published many articles and books on this subject. His latest text is ‘Beyond War: The Human Potential For Peace.’
This program aired on WBAI on July 26th and August 2nd, but the full audio can be found here!
On two recent programs, ETFF co-host Arnell Dowret examined how we communicate with each other and what humanistic naturalism can offer by way of our better understanding each other in public discourse. Focusing on nebulous terms bandied about in popular American culture – by religionists and secularists alike – Arnell suggested we loose polarizing and pain-inducing terms like sin, shame, guilt, vice and bad and instead offer the more precise language of social science.Human beings behave according to both their biology and environment, and in our judgmental, often punitive, uber-competitive and commoditized society, we have developed a language – promoted by religionists and secularists alike – which has led to a culture of punishment and reward, praise and blame, guilt, shame, anger and fear.
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a religious humanist, would suggest these terms are part of a ‘violence-based communication.’ In response he founded The Center for Nonviolent Communication. Carrying on his work in the New York City area is Dr. Dian Killian, co-author of Connecting across Differences: A Guide to Compassionate, Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Dr. Killian was on ETFF to discuss her work for Brooklyn NVC. We offered several special gifts for those who become members or renew their membership that you are still able to obtain by clicking here or here!
As co-host Michael O’Neil likes to say, we put the human back in humanism as we investigate a way of thinking and communicating in both our personal relationships and in the political arena… Imagine all the People, Living Life in Peace…
From the Publisher:
Turmoil in the Middle East has escalated to unprecedented levels in the twenty-first century. Opposing cultural, religious, and political forces have resumed old conflicts and spawned new ones, fighting with words and images as well as bombs and bullets. The path toward peace and reconciliation seems further away and less clear than ever.
Stephen Eric Bronner‘s Peace Out of Reach is both a deeply personal account and a careful analysis of the crises currently threatening the cradle of civilization. Bronner’s insights into Middle Eastern tensions are significantly enhanced by his extensive travels in the region. Equally informed by scholarly research and conscientious engagement, Bronner critically evaluates the motivations and actions of the powerful players on the Middle Eastern stage. Peace Out of Reach challenges policymakers to build bridges, recognize common interests, foster genuine diplomacy, and seek realistically navigable roads to lasting peace, rather than resort to propaganda, threats, and military actions.
Stephen Eric Bronner is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. He is the author of numerous books, including Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy, and coeditor of The Logos Reader: Rational Radicalism and the Future of Politics.