[Note from Kathie Malley-Morrison: Today we again welcome a post from guest author Dr. Dean Hammer, a psychologist and peace activist.]
In 1989, Roger Walsh (a professor of psychiatry at University of California Irvine) wrote a seminal paper entitled, Toward a Psychology of Human Survival: Psychological Approaches to Contemporary Global Threats.
Walsh identified several global threats that continue to plague us today including: malnutrition, resource depletion, the ecological blight, and nuclear weapons. These threats to human survival and wellbeing “are actually symptoms of our individual and collective mind set.”
Walsh’s assessment of societal psychopathology provides a useful approach to understanding the pathology of war-making, including the fatalism and Social Darwinism that create a self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuating war.
During my 35 years of peace activism, I have engaged in many conversations regarding the possibility of abolishing war. One of the most prevalent attitudes keeping people from imagining a world without war is the assumption that “there always have been wars and there always will be wars.”
This belief system is built upon a pessimistic view of human nature that sees human beings as essentially greedy and self-serving. The super-power nations, who depend on the military industrial complex as the backbone of their economies, depend on and promote this cynical view of human nature.
From a cognitive perspective, this core maladaptive assumption rejects the capacity of human beings to become altruistic and to commit ourselves to the well-being of the entire human family as a prerequisite for our individual well-being.
Therefore, an initial step in developing a revolutionary hope for our future is to promote an alternative vision of human nature that portrays humankind as having the capacity to create global peace and justice.