By E. Nora H. Amrani, All Rights Reserved.

What causes genocide? How can people commit unbelievable atrocities against another human being, a friend, relative, neighbor? How do we end genocide? According to a recent article, "They killed their neighbors: genocide's foot soldiers" by CNN's Courtney Yager [link], genocide is often the result of a "perfect storm."

"A country reeling from political and economic turmoil, a fanatical leader promising to make things better and a vulnerable population targeted for blame -- all combine in a blueprint for mass murder."

"Group identity intensifies during difficult times," said psychologist Ervin Staub, author of "The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence", and it is one of the foundations of genocide."

The article went on to say that Jean-Bosco Bizimana, a Rwandan Hutu, slaughtered his Tutsi neighbors 14 years ago. Leaders of the genocide exploited the history of hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis to pit them against each other. But before the genocide, the two groups had overcome their hostility to live peacefully together.

"We were manipulated," Bizimana said. "The government pushed us to kill. Before that, we intermarried, we helped each other in daily life and we shared everything. We ourselves can't even believe what happened."

"Perpetrators don't want to be seen as weak, and in a mob mentality, individual guilt seems to disappear.

"People will do almost anything in a group and will do anything not to be rejected," said psychologist Philip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus at Stanford and famous for his 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which divided student volunteers into "prisoners" and "guards" and showed how easily people could be induced to commit sadistic acts." I think it depends upon the people and their sense of spirituality, and I will expand on this idea a bit further on in this article.

"They give up a sense of personal accountability and diffuse responsibility to the leader," said Zimbardo.

The article continues on to say that "genocidal regimes use propaganda to incite hatred. When people feel threatened and endangered, they can be led to kill. "Most genocides are shaped on [a perceived need for] self-defense," said Christopher Browning, a University of North Carolina history professor who studied a Nazi police battalion.

"Dehumanization is the most powerful psychological tool used in all mass murder and genocides, Zimbardo said. "Dehumanization blurs your vision. You look at these people and you do not see them as human."

"Purification is at the heart of genocide," said Harvard's Lifton. "In that purification ... [the killers] are healing." How many times have you read or heard that? From the Nazis to KKK to honorkillings, it's all about feeling others you perceive as not like you are inferior to you and therefore evil and the cause of your problems. But, murder never solves the problem; it only creates more of them.

"Perpetrators and victims don't realize what they're involved in until it's too late, said Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University."

"It's a conspiracy, a silent secret plan to set up a situation whereby the victims, who are unsuspecting, are brought into a conflict with a large number of people, many of whom are also unsuspecting," Kiernan said.

Yager's article didn't talk about martyrdom, which is praised by some religions and, in effect, guarantees that no matter how hard you try, and dammit you better try, you will NEVER be worthy. (So why try at all?) And, "If I'm not worthy of God just as I am, then neither are you. And if the only way I can be worthy is through suffering, then I will suffer and make you suffer, as well." Misery loves company. It loves company so much that if one person dares to break out of that system and let their own light shine, you'd hear, "How dare THEY be able to do this and I can't?" Instead of asking and finding out how they can do it on their own, it's so initially threatening that they try to stamp it out as fast as they can.

So, here we have the core of it all: fear of rejection (meaning not feeling good enough or loved); no sense of personal responsibility and accountability or empowerment; manipulation, control goes to the leader; us vs. them, not seeing others as human or as self but as the enemy; need to purify; and a conspiracy in order to appoint a scapegoat. [Metaphysicians know that the greatest conspiracy is with ourselves - please read my previous article on this subject for more info.]

But not everyone succumbs to committing genocide. Why? I think genocide is a result of having no genuine spirituality. And where would most children obtain such a spiritual education, unless they have a parent that is aware and teaches them? They surely won't find it in their religious or public institutions, or even in the major media.

When a person isn't sure who they are and has no personal responsibility, has always given it up to another (parent, teacher, boss, priest, government), they have low self-esteem, no sense of personal empowerment and will easily be controlled by another. In spiritual terms, we consider this to be living with massive illusions of separation from the Source, God/Goddess/All That Is.

When a person knows who they are, knows they are a Source creation and co-creator and they are one with that Source, knows the love and light from personal experience, then they have no sense of rejection or abandonment. Their fear diminishes. There is personal empowerment, self-responsibility and the knowledge that all are God. What we do to another we are doing to ourselves, and vice-versa, therefore there is no need or desire to harm. They know they are eternal and their physical body isn't who they really are. There is no personal fear of death, so the spiritual person will not be so easily coerced into killing another in order to stay alive. They know that to kill another human being goes against the Source, and once you have made that connection with Source, to revert and tread backwards to kill is rare and detrimental to the soul, and it will take some real healing to rebalance the soul. Metaphysicians who have a strong relationship with the Source trust what the Source is telling them because the Source never lies and always has the greatest and most helpful perspetive. They will not be manipulated.

Honest spiritual education becomes of major importance if we are to overcome the idea of lack and to have peace in our world. Peace cannot happen with lies. Our basic nature is a free spirit who knows it is part of the Source. Our essence knows that it is eternal and that it is loved and supported by the universe. We have our unique imprint, frequency, personality and yet we are interconnected, which means we have a responsibility not just for ourselves but for everyone. Whatever we do effects everyone else. If we want abundance, compassion, peace, and joy, we have to be trusting, courageous, be peaceful and optimistic enough to know we already have it and start living it ourselves. The way to do that is to find out who we really are and what we can really do, starting from the inside out and loving ourselves, connecting with our Higher Self and Source. We will then understand that the outer world reflects what is going on within ourselves, and that true happiness and wealth doesn't come from the outer world unless we first give that to ourselves.

I think that if we want to live in peace and end genocide we have to start acknowledging that we come from the same Source, we all have the same basic needs and wants (love, liberty, to be heard, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, health care, education), and that our planet is fully equipped to sustain life for everyone. Peace must be within ourselves and our personal relationships, first. We can co-exist without depleting our resources. How can we have our basic needs met, or improved? One way I feel we can assist is through open, free and honest education which also teaches self-sufficiency. Everyone is entitled to have abundance, spiritual and material, and can have it simply by realizing it's here for all and no one has to go without.

Next, to achieve a peace-based economy (because poverty is often a motivator and manpulator to create an enemy and start a war), and living more in balance with all of nature; one way in which to do this is eliminate our being subject to constant blackmail by oil producing nations. We can be using alternative power sources so we are independent and working in harmony with nature, instead of trying to control nature.

Yager's article concludes: "Looking back at their crimes, some perpetrators are now sorry for their actions, including Bizimana. "What we did to them in the past was very bad," he said. "Deep in my heart, I regret it." Bizimana has since reconciled with his surviving Tutsi neighbors, and is trying to build unity in his country. "What happened," he vows, "will never happen again." " Only when we can see God in one another and treat one another divinely, then can real peace, freedom, and an end to genocide be a reality for the entire world. And it must start with a spiritual education.

© Copyright 2008, Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani