Monday, February 25, 2008

Love amidst War

Poster (left) of Love/ War/ Sex art exhibit, from the 2/8/08 review at "Hrag Vartanian; A blog of art, culture, photography, writing and ideas."

In a 2003 interview, after his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning came out, war correspondant Chris Hedges talks about love as a sanctuary of sanity in wartime (not the topic of the art exhibit advertised in the above poster, but it's an interesting tie-in with Hedges' points elsewhere about the intoxification of war):

Q: When you were covering war, you found that the effects on you were such that you sought out the company of people who were in love. Would you talk about that a little bit?

A: We used to call it the "Linda Blair effect" in Bosnia. You think you've suddenly found the one, normal person that you can have a rational conversation with, and then after 15 minutes their head starts to spin around.

"It's just amazing how almost everyone becomes infected with the rhetoric of wartime, and they just parrot back the cliches they're handed. Whatever disquiet they feel, it's as if they can't express it. They're robbed of language.

"In every conflict I've been in, the only antidote is people who find their fulfillment, their sense of being, in love. In the Balkans, these were often couples who had mixed marriages and, therefore, they were immune from the rhetoric; to paint all Serbs as evil, or all Muslims as evil, or all Croats as evil was to denigrate the spouse, to dehumanize the spouse -- which they couldn't do.

"These [relationships] are always sanctuaries -- sanctuaries that I went to in the war in Salvador. And this is something that I've thought about years later."

He also explains the use of religion as a tool in war:

"Religion is used for differentiating warring populations the same way ethnicity is, race is. It's one of the tools those who want to manufacture a war use -- a very effective one. Unfortunately, within the institutional church or the synagogue or the mosque, there are religious leaders who are willing to go along with that enterprise."

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