My wife is an original thinker. Stunningly original, actually. One evening, while discussing the growing threat of nuclear war, we were disturbed by the fact that nuclear weapons are only a deterrent if the elected leader is perceived to be unhinged enough for people to believe that they could be plausibly expected to launch a nuclear first strike capriciously, thereby annihilating all life. Any more reasonable, life-loving leader wouldn’t be credible enough in their role as a vindictive, deranged maniac and so the weapons would be stripped of their deterrent effect.
This is the same leader, mind you, that people expect to be sane and balanced enough to rule for the benefit of the many. The ideal leader has to be both a model of sober benevolence and a crazed, psychopathic killer at one and the same time. People that believe in the existence of such a leader, who support spending trillions on nuclear weapons, are thought to be reasonable, sensible and moderate, while those that call the whole thing out as the insanely dangerous bullshit it really is are branded enemies of the people and risks to national security.
The theory goes that the only way to secure national security is to wield a weapon of such massively destructive potential, controlled by somebody psychologically unstable, that nobody else would dare make a move against us. It’s an argument that holds that only violence of the most extreme kind can keep us all safe. If that were true, kindergartens would train loaded, hair-trigger, automatic weapons at the faces of all children, at all times. (Some American kindergartens evidently do.)
Of course, our enemies (real or imagined) elect their own lunatic psychopaths too, placing their twitching digits on the destruction button, so the rest of us are left crossing our fingers that no single tweet sets them off into a fit of murderous frenzy, late at night. We’re essentially held to ransom collectively, dependent entirely on the impulse control of acknowledged maniacs.
How secure does that situation make us, in reality? These weapons did nothing to deter Syria. All they’ve accomplished is made it more likely that an accidental cock-up will start Armageddon. There are people crazy enough to think that this, too, would be God’s will, if it ever happened. No just and loving God would end all life through a screw up. Give me a break.
My wife’s very original thought is this: spend the money that would have been pissed away on nuclear armaments on finding cancer cures, new antibiotics and treatments to remedy thousands of currently incurable ailments instead. Become indispensable to the health and well-being of the world and not even the most crazed sociopath would bomb your country. Indeed, the necessity of electing such a misanthropic weirdo would disappear entirely.
The beauty of this solution – finding a creative way of securing life – is that invasion can’t captivate it either. You can’t steal ideas and human creativity like you can land or mineral resources. You can’t coerce a populace into producing original, innovative, spontaneous, creative ideas. Invasion would cause the flow of such ideas to end instantly. It’s something that simply doesn’t yield to violence and conquest. If you don’t treat it gently, allowing it true freedom, it vanishes. As a means of securing national security, it’s pretty strong.
People can overcome their basic fears and doubts about themselves and their place in life if they relate to the world by embracing it, in the act of spontaneous living. They gain strength as individuals and security as a society. To quote the psychologist, Erich Fromm, “This security, however, differs from the security that characterizes the pre-individualist (i.e. feudalist) state in the same way in which the new relatedness to the world differs from that of their primary ties. The new security is not rooted in the protection which the individual has from a higher power outside of himself; neither is it a security in which the tragic quality of life is eliminated. The new security is dynamic; it is not based on protection, but on man’s spontaneous activity. It is the security acquired each moment by man’s spontaneous activity. It is the security that only freedom can give, that needs no illusions because it has eliminated those conditions that necessitate illusions.”
To accomplish creative national security, through the arts and industry, a society needs to take full benefit of the uniqueness of each creative person. Quoting Fromm once more:
“The uniqueness of the self in no way contradicts the principle of equality. The thesis that men are born equal implies that they all share the same fundamental human qualities, that they share the basic fate of human beings, that they all have the same inalienable claim on freedom and happiness. It furthermore means that their relationship is one of solidarity, not one of domination-submission. What the concept of equality does not mean is that all men are alike. Such a concept of equality is derived from the role that the individual plays in his economic activities today. In the relation between the man who buys and the one who sells, the concrete differences of personality are eliminated. In this situation only one thing matters, that the one has something to sell and the other has money to buy it. In economic life one man is not different from another; as real persons they are, and the cultivation of their uniqueness is the essence of individuality.”
In other words, if everyone were able to live creative lives, spontaneously pursuing their individual creative inclinations, they’d never feel insecure enough to need a big, bad leader with an insanely destructive weapon. Strength and stability come from unlocking the creative potential of the people. Why would anybody, fully engaged and immersed in their own creative pursuits, interrupt them in order to invade or attack people similarly engaged? What would be the reason and gain? Why would anybody need a psychopathic leader, if you were free to do with your life what you thought best?
Today, studies have amply proven that democracy is dysfunctional. The rich essentially get what they want, through the exercise of their power, wealth and influence. Government can be bought and while it is, the wishes and desires of everybody else don’t count. This is a regrettable fact. That being the case, why do the rich and powerful want the destruction of all living things? It’s pathological. It’s root cause is their own inability to live spontaneously, exercising their creativity in a security-enhancing way. These people are not well, psychologically.
So there you have it: true security comes from creativity. Those that put their faith in violence and destruction are so very wrong and the point we’ve reached in the nuclear arms race – essentially an insane stand off, costing trillions of dollars that would have been better spent enhancing life, with nobody able to back down from the extreme threats they make – is the unarguable proof. Isn’t it time we stopped believing in psychopaths and started believing in the power of our life-affirming creativity?