Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 20:37
Written by Glen Harrison
On September 24, 2004 in Dubrovnik, Croatia I visited a photography exhibit at a studio by the name War Photo Limited. Croatians know a lot about war.
In fact, as visitors enter the northern gate to old town Dubrovnik they see a sign screwed to the thick city walls demarcating some thousands of places where bombs, bullets and shrapnel entered many of the homes and businesses located there. The photographs on exhibit at War Photo Ltd. compose a similar sign, showing the many demarcations of American tax dollars at work for the War on Terror in Iraq. One memorable war photo for me, not included in the War Photo Ltd. exhibit, is a shot from Gulf War I of carbonized Iraqi soldiers. If you are wondering what it's like to be carbonized visit the photo I'm writing about at http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0212/pt03.html. If you don't want to suffer the violence that this photograph successfully captures, imagine Picasso's Guernica, http://www.mala.bc.ca/~lanes/english/hemngway/picasso/guernica.htm; they are equivalents. As I processed this image I found myself wondering what the families of these soldiers must feel; how do they view Americans, what would they think about me if I visited them?
In one way I have already visited them. My tax dollars paid for the bomb that burnt their fathers to a crisp. For six years I was also an airman employed by the US Air Force and awarded for the Liberation of Kuwait. What would these Iraqis think of me if they knew that? These images, thoughts and questions were accompanied by a memory of riding in a car one dim winter morning in Massachusetts. The other occupants of the car were the driver, Virgil Stucker and another passenger, his nephew, a graduate in Chemistry from Germany. We spoke about casual things and then the conversation turned towards a problem that involves all human interaction: conflict. "I wish," Virgil began, "that there was a switch in every human being that could be toggled to turn anger off". He seemed to suggest that this was a problem he was personally dedicated to working on and that he was also wondering if either his nephew or I had any thoughts on it.
The year before that car ride in Massachusetts I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan until we were evacuated due to the events of September 11, 2001. Since then I've spent three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania (one of America's allies in Iraq). Early on during my Peace Corps service the US Ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest visited me at my post in Craiova, Romania. The next day, Mr. Guest's visit with me was reported in an article in the local newspaper on the same page with a report of a visit he paid, that same day, to the 26th Infantry Battalion of the Romanian Army.
Three years on and similar ironies still pull me in opposing directions. So I did what any sensible ironist might do, I began reading Carl G. Jung to see if he had any thoughts on human conflict. This is what he says in the epilogue of his book Psychological Types:
"It is my conviction that a basis for the settlement of conflicting views would be found in the recognition of different types of attitude - a recognition not only of the existence of such types, but also the fact that every man is so imprisoned in his type that he is simply incapable of fully understanding another standpoint. Failing a recognition of this exacting demand, a violation of the other standpoint is practically inevitable".
Is this the switch that Virgil Stucker alluded to? Are differences in attitude types responsible in part for ironies published in local newspapers? Is this helpful information which humanity could explore and employ before carbonizing each other? Jungian psychology may be better gospel than the Gospels in our apparently continuous struggle to misunderstand each other, but its effect has yet to take center stage in world, national, state, county, city, or family affairs. In fact, and I hope that this agrees with Jungian thought, recognition of the "many possible ways of viewing life" must first be central to the individual mind before it can spread onto a massive scale. Our reservation of "direct violence" and refraining "from heaping abuse, suspicion, and indignity upon [our] opponents" must be passed on through you.
Jung, Carl G.; Psychological Types, pp. 489, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1976
Photograph by Christopher Morris available at: http://www.warphotoltd.com/
© Glen Harrison 2004.