You’ve all heard about the “Falafel Stand in No Man’s Land,” of course. Certainly, it highlights the irony of war. Such things do take place during war when people will take little breaks from fighting to smoke opium, masturbate, medibate, and even kill some more; Such things do take place on both sides of Terra Nullius (No Man’s Land). That is, in their hatred, both sides are the same. In the way they masturbate, both sides are the same. There are cultural differences in toilet paper, no doubt, like sheet size and overall accepted textures, but toilet paper serves the same function across conflict boundaries.
The irony runs deep. Our most fundamental needs as human beings, our commonalities, are a cause for struggle. How do we transform competition for provision of our human needs into cooperation for the provision of our human needs. Yo, I’m not just talking about food, clothing, shelter, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. We have spiritual needs. We humans have emotional needs. Human beings have psychological and psychical needs as well.
Still, we can do much better than cooperation. We can actually have fun hanging out together in between the bullets and the bombs, the fists and the knives. Yes, it can be like recess – with the broken monkey bars, the tire swings, the cigarette butts from last nights hoodlums – during Lunchtime in elementary school before our egos are developed enough to take our differences to war.
And why not learn to play nicely together since we all need the same things? Well, it has to do with desire and expectation of course. That is where the struggle comes from. Maybe it is true that the tapeworm in your gut actually pulls the trigger, or the spirochete in your mitochondria deludes you into thinking you’re in love. More likely, it is the self love/loathe — you know, when your self hatred cultivates narcissistic asshole behavior, apathy, and/or self-deprecation — which prevents us from seeing self as other, gears us towards exploitation of others as we try to control them; steal their resources to acquire our desires (not mutually beneficial) not our human needs ( “They” could be a person, place or thing).
Of course, what I am suggesting is the Unified Field Theory of Human Endeavors – that which draws us to the Playground of our Human Needs. It requires a transformation of our core temperament with the intention of transcending the border between self and other. Perhaps when the human population was approximately 18 it was not such a difficult task to perform.
Yet, even the internal workings of a persons fwang can, and often do, cause conflict. When our emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, psychical, and spiritual needs are not thoroughly understood – that is, when our internal states are not clearly defined and in resonance with our core temperament- there exists a fertile ground for conflict. Toss into that internal mix the external forces of 7 billion people working towards the same thing among the external forces of economy, environment, politic, media, and other socal influences and you are left with a highly complicated system in which there is a great deal of friction and uncontrolled oscillations.
In the language of Natural Philosophy this dynamic is considered to be a ‘many body problem’ for which there is no exact solution. However, this does not mean an empirical solution can not be expressed. That is, the way we live can be transformed – through a series of practices and rituals – to unravel our fwang and re-ravel it with a new formulation more in resonance with our original instructions – this time derived from our practices and spiritual advisers who will prompt us towards expressing who we are supposed to be. This guidance and practice, along with the tools of non-violence and conflict transformation, will instruct us in a way that we can learn to play nicely among the commonalities of our human needs.
From the Polish Book of the Dead and Other Drunk Incantations
bardzo zimna we carried our corpses
a flute a guitar a violin an accordian
and a case of vodka
a dancer a trickster a warrior a crier
cursing along the backroads of the nowe miasto
we once gathered to play
our love songs
after the invasion
and the next to the places our father’s
fought to their deaths
to play for them
to drink for them
to sing to them
to smoke their last cigarettes
until we were drunk
hurled on the ground
our cold red faces pressed against
white crystals formed around
the edges of bootprints in the mud
sleeping as they do
a few meters underground
buried by decades of war
covered by the new world order
and a fresh layer of snow Now mostly sober
we carry our corpses back
from the Cytadela
half pickled half fermented
gathering unearthed ordinance
and dislodged shrapnel
to place inside the violin’s F-hole
drop into the sound hole of your guitar
jam into the end of her flute
pierce the trickster’s accordian
and ram down our throats
until there is no memory of the fighting
save the muted sounds of instruments
doing their dirty work
© Adam Roufberg