We are one world so why are we at war?

What are we thinking? What are we thinking? I look around social media and my head whirls, and my heart aches. I feel a need to step back, to step right back – so far back, in fact, that I can’t even stay on the Earth; I have to project myself right out into space.
What do I see? A planet, roughly spherical (slightly bulging in the middle, much like me), rotating through space. It may sound trite but, from a distance, we really are just one entity, one world. Take it the other way, zoom in, zoom right in and strip away our clothes, our hair, our skin, so we’re down to our bones, our organs, our cells. See any difference? Nah, me neither.
Yet still we persist in this ‘us and them’ thinking.

“Our quest, our earth walk, is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind.”
– Lakota Seer

We’re at war, yes, but we’re at war with ourselves; with parts of us. Seriously. Think of the world as a body, as your own body. There are bound to be bits of it you don’t like as much as other bits, just as there are bound to be bits that work better than other bits.  Some bits don’t seem to be functioning at all or actively working against the rest of your body.  Yes, you can take the scalpel to the bits you don’t like but, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a very weird-looking and poorly functioning body.
What are we humans in this world? Some say we are a cancer, a virus… I prefer to think we’re its psyche.

“Deep Democracy is our sense that the world is here to help us to become our entire selves, and that we are here to help the world to become whole.”
– Arnold Mindell

My feeling is that we will never have peace, either within our own bodies and minds, or in our outer body-mind, the world, until we give voice to our ‘problem parts’, rather than shunning them or bombing them. But that is uncomfortable, hugely uncomfortable. When I posted a link to the Mindell’s ‘Worldwork’ and ‘deep democracy’ on Facebook, it received the lowest number of views I’ve ever had on a post. Why? I guess none of us wants to confront our inner terrorists (or, for that matter, our inner refugees); our own capacity for violence, for radical intolerance (or our own sense of being lost, homeless, rudderless). Nobody wants to look at the parts of ourselves that are alienated and disenfranchised. It’s easier to project all our fear and hate and anger out there onto that ‘other’.

Am I condoning terrorism? Of course not. What I do feel is that, rather than spit fear and hate and bombs at it, we should stop, think and, more importantly, feel…

How do people become radicalized to the point where they will shoot or bomb other people? How does a young person, barely older than my son, come to the point where she will strap explosives to her body and blast herself to pieces along with fellow humans? How? Why?

Iyad El-Baghdadi posted this on Twitter, summarising the roadmap that leads to radicalisation.

1. Otherisation. “I am from one group; they are from another. We are different and separate.”
2. Collectivisation: “They are all the same.”
3. Oppression narrative: “They are oppressing us.”
4. Collective guilt: “They are all complicit in oppressing us.”
5. Supremacism narrative: “We are better than them.”
6. Self-defence: “We have to retaliate for their aggression and defend ourselves.”
7. The idea of violence: “Violence is the only way.”

So ‘they’ attack ‘them’ and then ‘them’ attacks ‘they’ in return and so on it goes. Actually, stand back from that and read it again. It doesn’t just refer to extremists, is it? Don’t most of us think this way about some group or other?

“The people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism.”

Now I never thought I’d find myself quoting Goering in a post.

Is there another way? Well, sticking with the body metaphor, you can only coax the entire body-mind into balance by giving it what it needs to thrive, by recognising that it is a whole, not just a raggle-taggle of organs and limbs and bits and pieces. You need to understand what’s going on, why it’s not working. And, of course, it’s all interconnected. If you give your body poor nutrition, for example, it will develop aches and pains and, eventually sickness.

Surely we need to think and feel on a global scale – seeing the entire world as one ‘field’, working on a macro level, to talk to one another with respect and dignity (yes, each and every person), creating a deep democracy of awareness across the entire world. It’s a huge huge ask, and one that I doubt will come any time soon. However, if we can’t individually affect change on the macro level, we can affect change within ourselves. That’s a huge ask too, as it demands that we are brutally honest with ourselves. When we feel fear or hate or disgust about a group of people – be they terrorists or refugees (or both) or any other group of ‘the other’ – the question we surely have to ask is, what is it, in ourselves, that we’re projecting?

There are plenty of other people who talk about this far more coherently than I. Do check out Worldwork (http://worldwork.org) and the Deep Democracy Institute (www.deepdemocracyinstitute.org).

This gives a good overview: www.deepdemocracyinstitute.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF_DOCS/ShadowsofPeace.pdf

I’ll let Einstein have the last word:
“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”


Photo by Louis Maniquet on Unsplash


  1. Well said, and so true! Too much hate, pain and hurt going on in the world! We all can make a difference for the better, little by little.
    Beautiful blog post. Thank you, Jane.

  2. Author

    Gotta hope, huh? 🙂 xx

  3. Author

    Exactly. 🙂 xx

  4. I know this from the inside, if I had stayed in Belfast I could see myself becoming radical…I saw it in others when their hopes, family, homes and opportunities were stripped away. If you have nothing you have nothing to lose. If, on the other hand, we extend the hand of peace, if we help rather than oppress, if we lift each other up…the response is just the opposite, and people extend that same compassion that they felt. It is in each of our hands whether we include or exclude, lift up or crush under our heels…I myself choose the route of compassion.

  5. Author

    Yes. Beautifully put. I hope more of us choose that route, I really do. xx

  6. I agree entirely with your whole world view but I struggle to see how to spread it. People think and feel in small groups: my family, my friends, my town, my area, my country. When there are so many who can’t even identify themselves as European, despite so much shared culture and shared religion, how can we hope to overcome the belief that others with a very different culture are a threat? We felt that even without fundamentalist Islam and the rise of isul. The only hope I see is in individual kindness. Never give up seeing that nothing else matters.

  7. Author

    I hear you, loud and clear. I remember writing about exactly that, our tendency to ‘tribe’ – before. It’s a natural urge but, now we have a global society, it no longer works. But I am hopeful and I sense a shift. I feel more and more people are now seeing themselves as ‘human’ or, even better, ‘earthdweller’ and my hope is that that feeling will spread out. How do we spread it? As you say, with individual kindness but also with a fierce interrogation of ourselves, our own darkness. You can’t force people to see it; they have to come to it themselves. Remember the story of the 100th monkey? We will reach critical mass and then… 🙂

Leave a Comment