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Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Gods of Eden

by William Bramley.

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The Search Begins
WHEN I FIRST began researching the origins of human warfare, certainly the furthest thing from my mind were Unidentified Flying Objects, better known as “UFOs.” The many flying saucer magazines which once graced the newsstands were, in my opinion, not worthy of serious consideration.* I also did not feel that the UFO phenomenon was terribly important even if it was evidence of an extraterrestrial race.

Solving the down-to-earth problems of war and human suffering seemed so much more important than arguing over whether or not “little green men from Mars” might occasionally be visiting Earth.

* A recent exception is UFO magazine, which I recommend. It is presently published in Los Angeles, California by Vicki Cooper and Sherie Stark.

I began researching this book in 1979; however, my desire to see an end to war arose much earlier in life, at just about the age of eight. Back then, war movies were very popular in my circle of friends. Our favorite game was playing “army.” I usually commanded one squad of kids and my friend David led the opposition.

We filled our imaginary battles with the same glamour and altruism we saw on television. We had no greater hero than the late actor Vic Morrow who would gallantly lead his army squad to victory every week on the television series, Combat!.

One Saturday afternoon I was watching a Hollywood war movie on television. It was like any other war movie except that it contained a short piece of numbing realism. For the first time in my life, I found myself looking at documentary film footage of an actual Nazi concentration camp. Long after the images vanished off the television screen, I was haunted by the pictures of skeleton-like bodies being thrown into large pits.

Like so many other people, I had trouble fathoming the souls of the Nazis who could shove human beings into brick ovens like loaves of bread and moments later pulled out the charred remains. Within a minute, those grainy black-and-white images presented a true picture of war. Behind the curt salutes and stirring oratory, war is little but a degraded psychosis. While war movies and games can sometimes be fun, the real thing is unconscionable.

For centuries, scientists and thinkers have attempted to solve the riddle of why people go to war. They have observed that nearly all of Earth’s creatures fight among themselves at one time or another, usually over food, territory, or mating. Aggression seems to be a universal behavior related to survival.

Other factors also contribute to the creation of wars. The analyst must take into consideration such variables as human psychology, sociology, political leadership, economic conditions, and the natural surroundings.

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