War is caused by Team Spirit.

What we loosely classify as violent behavior is caused by people having ideas of themselves (egos) which they strive to defend. Having such ideas or images is a misuse of thought. Even though this misuse of thought is so widespread as to seem like the inevitable lot of man, there are examples of individuals who live without ego.

Most people today have a misunderstanding of what ego is. Ego is not just thinking you are great, or good at certain things, or smart, or good looking, or rich. Ego, at it's root, is having ANY conceptual (or even pre-conceptual) overlay of who you are imposed onto experience. Living without ego would mean that each new experience was TOTALLY NEW. Normally we categorize and file our experiences according to our preexisting reference frames. Even our ideas about the physical world derive in a sense from our images and thoughts about who we are. If a parent reminds a child that he (the child) likes or dislikes something, that parent is fostering and reinforcing the creation of ego in the child. ANY limiting idea obstructs us from experiencing reality directly. This is what Jesus meant by suggesting one become like a child.

It seems that our egos, or ideas of who we are, require constant defending, and that this defending of egos is the root of violence. Even so, it is only when team spirit is added to the shaky foundation of ego consciousness that wars arise.

Look at what is called team spirit. Let's think about how we'd define it. Our first encounters with it may be in school, or having parents tell us that our country is the best country that ever existed (in the history of the universe?).

Suppose a little child begins school. He is taught that he should "root for" and enthusiastically hope that his school's team wins its competitions. Why should he care? Why should he feel closer to other children who just happened to live in the proximity of his school, than to children he might meet from other schools? Why should I feel closer to people who happen to live in America than to people who live in Japan? Why should I buy an American car just because I happen to live in America?

There might be someone in France, in Nigeria, or anywhere, who could be an amazingly close and dear friend to me, who might share my world view and my highest aspirations. Why the should I care what nation state claims ownership of him.

So perhaps team spirit could be defined as behavioristically accepting some arbitrary scheme of categorizing people, placing oneself into one of the categories, and then having more love (really pseudo love) for one's own category than for others.

If people really lived in the MOMENT, the here now, they would engage in NO arbitrary preclassification of individuals into the stupid groupings now used. The current grouping systems are stupid precisely because they arise from the PAST, not the here now.

Thus, we live in some dark age where people have team spirit for a skin color, for mere biological relations (relatives), for whatever nation state says it owns you, for the school one attends due to geographical proximity, etc.

Have you ever noticed that the most enlightened individuals ALWAYS seem to have equal and unlimited love towards ALL beings. Could you imagine them having team spirit?

Perhaps we should at least thank the Gods that most of the time, people seem to channel their need to "root for" a group into viewing competitive team sports, instead of into killing each other. This substitution of sports watching for war even extends to according sports celebrities the status of war heroes! So I guess there IS one good thing about the mass interest in spectator sports.

Back to Philosophy Home