Recently I was watching my favorite war movie, The Thin Red Line, which you can see the trailer here (if you’ve never seen the movie before):
Although it’s a war movie, the movie is more about humanity and why we fight one another. There’s some interesting scenes where Japanese and American soldiers talk to each other (with no subtitles) and neither can understand the other, for example.
But lately I’ve been reminded of one line by Sean Penn’s character Sgt. Welsh who said of war: Property. The whole fucking thing’s about property.
I looked up the CIA World Factbook for a list of disputed territories in the world, and there are a lot of them. Some people have been fighting for the same territory back and forth for decades or centuries. One side gains the upper hand, but something happens and they lose it. Now the other guy has it, until he loses it again.
Every time we feed into a dispute, the more we perpetuate it for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.
I’ve been reading K. Sri Dhammananda’s book lately (thank you Ven. A.S. for the kind gift) titled How to Live Without Fear and Worry where he writes:
The world itself is a vast battlefield. Everywhere there is fighting, violence and bloodshed. Existence is characterised by constant struggle: molecules against molecules, atoms against atoms, electrons against electrons, men against men, women against women, men against animals, animals against men, spirits against men, men against spirits, men against nature, nature against men. Within one’s physical body there is constant flux and struggle.
From the moment when we were born into this world, spend our whole lives contending with environment and everyone else. We contend with others for jobs, attractive partners, grades, resources, projects at work, championships, etc. When we have an advantage, that means someone else has a disadvantage. When we lose, we are angry at those who win. We live in fear and anxiety when we have an advantage because we worry we will lose it. We live in fear and anxiety when we don’t have the advantage, because we worry that we will never have it.
When does it end? As long as we feed into this, it doesn’t.
Also, 50,000 years from now, that piece of land or river or island or rock will still be there, regardless of who claimed it, or who owned it a long time ago. How about 500,000 years from now? Much of the land we see now will largely stay the same in 500,000 years, but all the claims, disputes, petty attacks on each other will be long forgotten.
Namu Shaka Nyorai