War…What Is It Good For?

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

In 1969, the pop song “War” was recorded by Edwin Starr and quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard charts. Most of you probably don’t remember Starr because “War” was his only big hit, but you have probably heard the song as it has been used in numerous movies and television shows. This song is considered the most popular protest song ever recorded and the lyrics say it all. Here’s the part of the song you might have heard…

“War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!”

Every time I read A Course in Miracle’s description of the ego, this song comes to mind. Our ego thinking, as the Course says, is a call to war which deprives us of our peace. Therefore, that kind of thinking gives us “absolutely nothing” of value.

The Course tells us that our ego thinking is always wrong, chaotic, and fearful. It is the part of our mind that believes in separation — thinking what another gains, we lose. It is the choice for guilt and is totally confused about the reality of who and what we are.

The ego is certain love is dangerous and forgiveness is weak. With all that said, the Course tells us that the ego mind is afraid of you; that you will find out it is nothing and has no power over you. And, even though the ego is the call to war and thinks it is at war with God, it is never endangered because God did not create it and therefore the ego is “absolutely nothing!”

It is time we stop giving what is “nothing” so much “something” and space in our minds. It is time to turn to the Answer within our warring thoughts. As the Course tells us, “You will listen to madness or hear the truth.” (W-66.10) The Holy Spirit is the alternative to the madness of the ego; it is this Voice for truth that will inevitably be heard.

“God’s promises make no exceptions. And He guarantees that only joy can be the final outcome found for everything. Yet it is up to us when this is reached; how long we let an alien will appear to be opposing His.” (W-292)

“Ay, there’s the rub,” as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet. How long will we let the foolish blustering of the ego occupy our minds? This following section from the Course might give us some good insight…

Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. … When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it… (T-8.I.3)

Let’s break it down: 1) First, we need to see every ego thought (fear, confusion, depression, guilt, attack, separation, etc.,) for what it is, a call to war –- into believing that you are alone and weak and something outside of you is threatening your peace. 2) Next, we need to view this call to war in a new way — through the truth and not through the lies of the ego. Unlike the wars the ego likes to fight against someone or something else, the Course is telling us that there is no opponent. When we see others as opponents, we are actually fighting ourselves and robbing ourselves of the peace we are searching for. Fighting ourselves is insanity, for it gives us “absolutely nothing.”

When we look at these calls to war through Christ’s vision, however, we realize that those whom we have “perceived as opponents are really part of our peace.” When we attack those “opponents” we are giving up our peace. What this means is that the moment we attack those others out there (either in action or thought) we have placed them in a prison of our own making, and now we must become their jailer. Here’s the Course’s powerful take on it…

…A jailer is not free, for he is bound together with his prisoner. He must be sure that he does not escape, and so he spends his time in keeping watch on him. The bars that limit him become the world in which his jailer lives, along with him. And it is on his freedom that the way to liberty depends for both of them.

Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free. The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain. (W-192.8-9)

This passage really puts the ego’s way of thinking at risk, and you may be feeling it is impossible to do. That, however, is the power of A Course in Miracles, for it tells you, YOU do not do this. You allow healing to be done through you. You are simply asked to look at the warring calls of the ego, using this new awareness of the above passages, and let Him lead the way to peace. He will take your little willingness to let forgiveness lead the way and magnify it until you realize the gift of releasing another is really the gift of releasing yourself.

The CBS news show 60 Minutes recently presented a segment on the Restorative Justice Project (RJP) created by the University of Wisconsin’s Law School. The project has been active for more than thirty years, but it is just now getting the attention it deserves. Their goal is to bring together (if agreed upon by both parties) those who have been “victimized” by crimes (or their surviving family members) and those who committed the crimes and are now serving a prison sentence. The purpose of the meeting is to hopefully allow both parties to heal. It was a powerful 12-minute segment that is available to watch here.

It is well worth viewing the entire segment, but, in one particular story, a young woman whose brother had been killed by a drunk driver shares her very powerful transformation. After the death of her brother, she did everything she could to make sure this drunk driver received the maximum sentence.

During that entire process, however, and now since his imprisonment, she never felt any peace. Her hate and anger made her, as she said, “a terrible mother and a terrible school teacher.” It was only when she was brought together with this man through the RJP that she found release.

The driver needed to be stopped from hurting more people, for as he said it wasn’t the first time he had driven drunk, it was just the first time he got caught. He was devastated. Both the victim’s family and the perpetrator were in a jail of their minds. When they came together in a willingness to allow forgiveness to take place, peace and healing occurred.

We all have been in that jail of our minds before. Maybe you are there right now? It is time we stop answering the call for war from the ego perspective of separation and attack and see the call as an opportunity to remember forgiveness is the only way to our healing and peace. Because, in the end, what we give to another, we give to ourselves. If we cut them off from peace, we have cut ourselves off as well. If they be in the prison of our minds, then we will be the jailer until we realize this war gives us “absolutely nothing.”

Can you hear the song…sing it with me…

“Ego, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!”

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