Eliminating the Roots of War

War is a social manifestation of the role of persecutor in the three realms of interpersonal, personal, and intrapersonal realities. To look at the justifications for war is to look at the justifications for the persecutor role in the Drama Triangle. The concept of social roles in interpersonal conflict is derived from the domain of Transactional Analysis (Berne 1961), a choice-based approach to therapy that evaluates the dynamics of relationships (transactions) to move from inauthenticity and dysfunction to intimacy and competence. More specifically, the “Drama Triangle” was developed by a TA therapist, (Karpman, 1968). The Drama Triangle consists of three dysfunctional roles, Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer. While the first two are self-explanatory, the third needs to be differentiated from the role of “Helper,” which is healthy and not in the Drama Triangle. While Rescuers jump in without waiting for a request, do not check to see if the help they are giving is appropriate, and keep on “helping” even when the job is done, Helpers wait for a request, check to see if the help actually is helping, and stop when the job is done. Policemen and Firemen have social permission to do their jobs and so are Helpers, even when you consider them to be Persecutors (unless, of course, they are incompetent or criminal).

The basic importance of the Drama Triangle lies in the unavoidable fact that if you play one role you will eventually end up playing all three, meaning that sooner or later you will find yourself in the role of Victim. There is neither intimacy or peace within the Drama Triangle; it fills life with superficial, inauthentic, and painful excitement, creating a delusional reality that causes needless, completely preventable suffering. Integral Deep Listening (Dillard) expands the interpersonal context of the Drama Triangle to include the two intrapsychic realms of waking cognition and dreams and demonstrates how taking any of these three roles in the Drama Triangle in either of those two realms fuels and manifests as interpersonal expressions of the Drama Triangle. This interpersonal space includes national and international political events, such as diplomacy and war.  A major reason why both war and the Drama Triangle continue is because humans commonly and persistently justify jumping into the Persecutor role. War has not been eliminated from human culture because humans habitually take the role of Persecutor, not only in relationships but in normal thought processes and even at night when asleep and dreaming. Consequently, this familiarity breeds a common psychological excusability for abusive, unethical, unlawful, and criminal conduct on the part of leaders and soldiers. Extrapolating from our own experience, we accept and even expect a double standard on the part of our government.

By examining the justifications for war and discrediting them you can identify your own justifications for persecuting yourself and others. You can start to wake up out of the persecutor role of the Drama Triangle in each of the three realms. The first is the interpersonal realm of work, friends, loved ones, and enemies. The second is your internal waking world of cognition—your thoughts and feelings. The third is your dream world, in your relationship with those “others” that you encounter in that “intrasocial” realm.

This line of reasoning largely borrows from the spade work done by Robert Higgs in his article, “War Is Horrible, but…” (Higgs, 2012). This phrase implies that war is acknowledged to be the abuse and persecution of others that it is. However, until fairly recently it was still socially acceptable for mainstream culture to glorify abuse. Theodore Roosevelt could write that war is manly and invigorating both for nations and for the soldiers who engage in it. Morris justifies war as a means to keep nations and their citizens from “getting soft.” (Morris 1979) Chris Hedges has argued that this cultural ennobling of abuse still exists in his War Is a Force That Gives us Meaning (2002). I agree, judging not only by advertising for military recruitment but almost all war movies.

How is abuse justified within the Drama Triangle? Looking at the social realm first, consider the legal justifications generated by John Woo for Bush II to attempt to protect the U.S. CIA, Military, Defense Secretary, leaders of the National Security Council, Vice President, and President from prosecution and conviction for either doing or authorizing actions that were clearly against international law. They would be roundly condemned by the US government if these obscene measures were used by another government against U.S. citizens. (ACLU) The basic argument is that abuse is a lesser moral wrong in the face of greater social dangers, such as a terrorist setting off a nuclear explosive in a U.S. city. The argument is that the abuse of a few, regardless of how cruel and vicious it is, can never compare to the value of the many lives that are thereby saved. A second, associated argument, still used by many Democrats and most Republicans to excuse Obama’s killing of civilians, including women and children, with drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and probably elsewhere, is that the government knows how to control and direct abuse, forgetting that by such an example future Presidents as well as foreign leaders are justified to use similar means based on the same rationalization.

These excuses and justifications for jumping into the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle show up in your personal life when you scream at, name call, or hit a child, partner, co-worker, boss, or enemy and claim that you are thereby stopping them from doing some unspeakable act: setting the house on fire, pedophilia, torturing animals, hitting their younger siblings, cheating on their partner, etc. Your argument, like those made by Woo, is that the pain you inflict is necessary for the greater good when in fact it is obviously simply an excuse for unacceptable behavior.  Parents often use the second argument, that as adults and parents they know how to control and direct the abuse they inflict upon their children, conveniently forgetting that they are teaching their children that this is what good parents do, oblivious to the possibility that they themselves will one day be grandparents and will have to witness their bad parenting being inflicted on their own grandchildren by their own children.

These excuses and justifications for jumping into the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle also show up in the cognitive realm when you justify self-abuse as a lesser evil. Consider the mentality of habitual wrist slicers and those who either attempt or succeed at suicide. Consider what you say to yourself and how you feel when you believe aggression and abuse are appropriate means of defending yourself against some inner threat: your addictions, loss of self-control, and self-blame for your abuse of others. If you drone attack yourself with shame, guilt, and name calling perhaps you will magically stamp out the blemish on your character; you will rub away the scarlet “A” that you wear in your mind. But of course all you are doing is amplifying and thereby reinforcing bad behavior. You are making self-indulgence in the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle more likely in your thoughts and feelings by your example to yourself. Shame does not eliminate shame; it reinforces it. Guilt does not diminish guilt; it amplifies it.

These excuses for jumping into the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle show up in your intrasocial universe when you either act in abusive ways or perceive the actions of characters in dreams as being abusive to you. Let’s say a dream gargoyle is roasting you over a spit. That’s pretty abusive, isn’t it? Doesn’t that justify being in the role of Victim or jumping into the role of Persecutor, or, most likely, jumping into the role of Rescuer by waking up or by “switching channels” with your dream remote? But what are you actually doing? First, you are reinforcing the Drama Triangle by choosing a response that keeps you a prisoner within delusion. Even if you woke yourself out of the dream, your escapism reinforced the fear; you are likely to have the same dream or a similar one again. The more fearful you are in your dreams the more fearful you are likely to be in your waking life. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome provides plenty of evidence for this reality. This is a good decision if you like the Drama Triangle and enjoy self-inflicted, totally unnecessary and useless suffering. However, if you think you deserve peace of mind you will choose a more confident, wise, and compassionate response in your dream. It really doesn’t matter what that response is, as long as it is not jumping into one or another role of the Drama Triangle. This is real, authentic, genuine dream lucidity, as opposed to lucid dreaming. You can lucid dream within the Drama Triangle but dream lucidity precludes choosing to be in the Drama Triangle in your dreams.

Let us imagine that you have evolved to the point where you no longer justify abuse toward others or yourself as a noble or necessary preventative. You can still say, “Abuse is horrible, but…” and then go on to inflict damage on your life, yourself, and your intrasocial community. Higgs has compiled some interesting examples of such rationalizations. These can also be used to demonstrate how and why they are cultural and personal cognitive distortions, that is, examples of irrational thinking and dangerous delusions. Higgs refutes each one, in a way similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (Burns, 1980), in which a rational antidote is developed for each irrational belief, as a way of undermining both the anxiety and depression that lead to self-destructive behavior. Each of Higg’s fourteen excuses for waging war is followed by how each keeps you stuck in the Drama Triangle and how to avoid such a fate.

“War is horrible. But no one wants to see a world in which a regime with no regard whatsoever for international law—for the welfare of its own people—or for the will of the united Nations—has weapons of mass destruction.” (US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage [2003]). Higgs points out that this statement, used to justify the unjustifiable, indefensible campaign of “shock and awe” against a non-aggressing country (Iraq), was simply “bellicose propaganda.” Although Higgs doesn’t come out and directly make the point, those same conditions apply much better to the perpetrator of those attacks, the United States. The Iraq war was in direct violation of international law and the U.S. government knew it. Its leaders created lies as pretexts which they sold to the  media, international community, and to citizens. The war showed callous disregard for the welfare of those U.S. citizens who were either killed, maimed, or psychologically destroyed by the experience of participating in atrocities. The record clearly shows that the United States will defend the United Nations when that institution serves its own ends. When it does not, it ignores, disrupts, or undermines the United Nations at will.

Where is the equivalent of this rationalization found in daily life? You use it when you first create a threat where there is none and then use your fear to justify the abuse of others. For example, you believe co-workers are gossiping about you and so start a campaign of character assassination. As an employer, you see your worker’s demands for higher wages or unionization as a threat to the survival of your business. As a result, you may do something like Ronald Reagan did to the striking airline traffic controllers: fire them all. Of course, those Federal employees were not a threat to Reagan or to the government, but by using the “shock and awe” of mass layoffs, he served notice to both public and private employees everywhere not to push their case against management. He served notice to employers by his example that the Federal government fully supported the abuse of employee rights. This in turn set an example for such ham-handed unwillingness to negotiate to carry over into disputes of all kinds—between partners, parents and children, parents and teachers, setting one element of the body politic and the social fabric against another, using abuse in such a decisive fashion that opposition is repressed, where it will smolder and simmer, gaining strength, developing strategies that will be harder to control. If you think it’s fine to do such things with your family, your associates, or your competitors, you are using one of the same rationalizations that your leaders can, have, and will use to justify killing your children, grandchildren, or your children’s children’s children.

If you tell yourself, “I’m breaking the rules of good behavior! I need to punish myself!” and then proceed to do so by putting yourself into a depressed mood, worrying and punishing yourself with needless, unproductive anxiety, or by otherwise inflicting “shock and awe” upon yourself, you are in the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle in the second realm, of your waking cognition. You do so because it is for a time a successful adaptive strategy. You will feel relief and less stress; you will have a personal experience equivalent to CNN superimposing the image of a flying American flag over the scenes of Baghdad being turned to rubble. You have violated the norms of good behavior. You deserve this mental and emotional abuse, and you celebrate its success in stomping down the demons within you.

Intrasocially, persecutors are easily viewed to be deadly threats that are transgressing norms of appropriate behavior. For instance, if a man is chasing you and shooting at you in a dream, you immediately conclude that you are dealing with a deadly threat. At the least, it is displaying a disregard for cultural norms of decency and justice. The man is also showing no respect for another human. Consequently, you are completely justified in shooting it, turning a dog loose on it, or strangling it—in short, anything and everything that might work to stop it. However, there is a problem here and it has several dimensions. First, the dream is a delusion. You think you are awake when you are not. Because you are dreaming and in a delusional state, you think you are threatened when you are not, in fact, threatened. You think you are a Victim in the Drama Triangle faced with a Persecutor when in fact no such threat exists, just as most citizens have experienced themselves throughout history in the face of government calls to war. You do not know this during most dreams, with the exception of some lucid dreams, but you do know it when you wake up, get your bearings and think, “I was dreaming!” Citizens often do this in the aftermath of war. They do things like create the United Nations and host the Nuremberg Trials, declaring, “Never again!”

When you start looking at your response to personal, intrapersonal, and interpersonal abuse as a self-created dream,  you can see that Armitage was validating a similar delusion, but on a social and cultural, international level, where one plays for keeps. In dreams there isn’t real tissue damage; in war, there is. While the consequences are disastrously more severe in waking life, the premises are no different. In both cases threats are manufactured based on delusion and misperception. The dream misperception has to do with the fact that you do not know the motives of the person who was chasing you and shooting at you. Maybe he was trying to get your attention to warn you about something. Maybe the bullets were made of chocolate. It was a dream. Why should you assume that your assumptions about what is happening in the dream are the only real, true, or appropriate explanations for what is going on in the dream?

Scaring yourself within the Drama Triangle at night in your dreams, whether you remember them or not, plants the seeds for doing the same in the other two realms. You are validating, through “skull practice,” the emotional and cognitive predispositions for waking abuse. You are planting the seeds for those same delusions to be acted out as international Drama Triangles, reaching the pinnacle of abhorrence in the delusion called war. If you want to end war, you need to eliminate the Drama Triangle in all three realms of your personal life.

“War is terrible, war is horrible, but war is also at times necessary and the only means of stopping evil.”

Higgs makes the important and obvious argument that there are other means of stopping evil than war, and that they need to be considered and used first. You use this rationalization in the three realms when you jump to the worst case scenario, the catastrophic expectation, and use that to justify a response of maximum force. Examples: as a parent when you spank a child for bed-wetting or bringing home a bad grade, as a lover when you divorce someone you’ve caught cheating, something that Hillary Clinton could have done and many thought should have done, but with wisdom and grace, did not. You do this in the cognitive realm when you respond to overweight with starvation diets or to your drinking not only by becoming a tee-totaler, but a Carrie Nation-type crusader against the evils of alcohol. You do this in the intrasocial realm when you return perceived evil with evil actions: gouging the eyes out of a monster; setting someone else’s house on fire; shooting someone in your dream. The implication is that if you want to do away with the international pestilence of war, you need to look in the mirror and take Pogo’s statement to heart: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  You need to follow Gandhi’s advice and “First be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“No news shows [during World War II] were showing German civilians getting fried and saying how sad it was. It was war against butchers and war is horrible, but it’s war, and to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary.” (Ben Stein [2006])

Higgs points out that threatened, self-styled victims do not typically humanize their persecutors. Why not? Because it is difficult to justify jumping into the role of Persecutor if you see your enemy as a Victim. The first thing a military must teach recruits is loyalty to the “Team,” — the unit, platoon, brigade, commanders, the nation., and secondly, and strongly implied by this first premise, is the dehumanization of the enemy.  “They” are an “it,” a “war machine,” “gooks,” “towel heads,” “insects;”  no epithet is too low or vile to describe one’s persecutor. Higgs also points out that it is much easier to kill innocent civilians if they are not only nameless and faceless “collateral damage,” but if they are lumped together as manifestations of human (or sub-human) indecency.

To state that war is war is like saying “abuse is abuse.” This only works when there is  no adult supervision. In the absence of parental authority there are no consequences for indecent behavior and so it becomes relatively easy to say, “This is just the way humans are.” This is exactly what you do to excuse yourselves from self-persecution, whether by destroying your relationships, self-criticism, or acting badly in dreams. It’s just the way humans are. Humans are abusive. No, they are not—not when there is appropriate adult supervision. The presence of abuse anywhere on the spectrum, from dreams to war, is not only a statement of the lack of adult supervision but a plea for it. The individual, corporation, the banker, the culture, the nation is basically saying, “I’m too immature to control myself. I need a strong parental figure to keep me from being my own worst enemy.” This is one way of thinking about the role of government, to provide adult supervision so children play fair. War is an abrogation by government of its responsibility to provide such supervision. You feed war when you abrogate your responsibility to yourself and your world to demand peace in all three realms. Like any child, no nation or populace will frame it this way. Instead, they will live and act within the Drama Triangle, feeling fully justified in whichever role they happen to be in at the particular moment of their history.

Higgs also makes the point that using war to defend against indecency is to use the height of indecency against indecency, thereby “invariably magnify(ing) the malignity that it purports to resist.” This is the nature of the Persecutor role wherever it manifests in the three realms. That one can and does excuse it in the international arena raises the question, “How much more so is one excusing it in the interpersonal, cognitive, and intrapersonal realms?” In other words, is not such a person not only admitting that they are a persecutor of others and themselves, and that they see no problem with that? If that is the case, what does that say about the credibility of such a person? Shouldn’t such an admission clearly and immediately brand them as a social outcast, a dangerous person, as someone who has no problem hurting others or themselves?

Of course, the common response is to vigorously deny any connection between these realms. Just because President Obama allowed the perpetrators of great financial swindling go unprosecuted and even promoted one of them, Timothy Geithner, to one of the highest offices in the Land (Secretary of Treasury), does not mean that he is not a loving father or does not want to extend the social safety net to a greater number of citizens. But if one sanctions murder and assassination of civilians (drone war and more traditional terrorism world wide by the military and special forces) and corruption in the role of Commander in Chief, a role that most parents would be proud to have their child attain, what does that say about how deeply immersed not only Obama, but the citizenry at large, is in the Drama Triangle? This disconnect between public and private realms is first and most fundamentally a convenient failure of personal responsibility. By not pointing that out, by not holding leaders accountable, citizens like you and me are saying such double standards are excusable. You can love your family and cheat your customers while exploiting your employees and exploiting the environment until it is depleted, because different realms, different social roles, play by different rules. What the Drama Triangle does is make the point that “No, all these theaters of human activity are bound by one and the same fundamental dynamic.” You can’t make up the rules as you go along and be free of the consequences.

“War is horrible, but slavery is worse.” (Winston Churchill)

Higgs points out that this is not necessarily so, and one can conjure up all kinds of historical instances to support that stance. He also notes that slavery is rarely the outcome of wars and that the U.S. has never fought a war in which that was a likely outcome. Even the Revolutionary War, if the Americans had lost, would not have reduced its inhabitants to British slaves, but rather to British subjects, as in Canada, India, and elsewhere.

What people fail to recognize is that war makes them slaves of the Drama Triangle. You can’t do war without becoming a slave to it. Interpersonally, personally, and intrapersonally, you cannot do abuse and persecution, whether of another or yourself, without making yourself a slave of the Drama Triangle. When the obvious reality of this statement hits home, the next step is to ask, “Why would I want to do that?” The healthy answer is, “I don’t.” The next step is learning to recognize it in the three realms and to swear off it, to avoid any and all invitations to play. Citizens who do this will inoculate themselves against war propaganda. They are less likely to assume predator career roles and “promotions” that pay them for playing the Persecutor.

“You may think the Iraq war is horrible, but there may be some times when you can justify [going to war.]” 

Persecution is always justified in one’s own mind. George II justified attacking Iraq as an exercise in “democratization.” In his mind he was somewhere between a Helper and a Rescuer when he was dropping those bombs, scattering those uranium enriched munitions, and torturing people. Persecutors never see themselves as Persecutors. It’s a self-preserving blind spot, because self-identification as a Persecutor generally means that I have to take responsibility for my actions and beyond that, I might even have to change my behavior. This is also a reason why geopolitics resists analysis such as this one that reduces external monstrosities to internal ones. It’s easier and much more fun to project responsibility onto others than to look in the mirror.

Because of the inherent, built-in resistance to owning your persecution of yourself and others, it is recommended that you do two things. 1) Always assume you are in the Drama Triangle, in one or another of these three roles; 2) Err on the side of assuming that you are in the role of Persecutor, because you are going to have the most resistance to accepting responsibility for this role of the three. While there is manipulative value in owning that you are in the Victim role, in that you get to deny responsibility, and while there is considerable justification that comes with being in the Rescuer role, (“My intentions are so good!”), it’s much harder to generate rationalizations and justifications for playing the Persecutor. Of course, you do so all the time, and that is the purpose of Higg’s article on a level of national consciousness and it is the purpose of this article on more germinative levels.

“War is horrible, but sometimes you need to fight.”

Higgs points out that rarely has the U.S. actually needed to fight. I would add that the corollary here would be “The Drama Triangle is horrible, but sometimes you need to fight.” What this clarifies is not only that you can’t wage war without being in the Drama Triangle, but it indicates that you easily make excuses for staying in it. Again, you can always justify both going to war and staying in the Drama Triangle, but you will degrade yourself while robbing yourself of authenticity, intimacy, and peace in either case. What you need to fight for is peace of mind, intimacy, and authenticity. The war you need to fight is the struggle to stay out of the Drama Triangle. If you wage that war you will largely immunize yourself from getting sucked in to the justifications for drama in any of its manifestations, including warfare.

“Of course war is horrible, but it will always exist, and I’m sick of these pacifist [explicative deleted} ruining any shred of political decency that they can manage.” 

This one is humorous in its irrationality. Since when is war “politically decent?” Since when is peace “politically indecent?” Higgs points out that just because war has always existed there is no cause to believe man cannot outgrow it, just as he had a belief that astrology is scientific, in the inevitability of some cancers, or the divine right of kings. The same is most certainly true about the Drama Triangle. You can outgrow your addiction to it in all three realms, but first you have to recognize it. Then you have to understand that it is your arch enemy, not external enemies or the government. Then you need a plan that involves vigilant persistence.

To apply Higgs second point, even if evil cannot be eliminated for good that does not mean that giving in to it is justified. Even if you are probably destined to find yourself in one or another aspect of the Drama Triangle, that doesn’t mean that you cannot or should not work to reduce the severity, duration, or consequences of your relapse. You can always become less asleep and more awake. You can choose not to sleepwalk your life away on a path of destruction.

Higgs third point is that if everyone was a pacifist there would be no war. Integral Deep Listening teaches that inner peace is an antidote to the Drama Triangle, particularly the role of Victim. If you don’t experience  yourself as a Victim, you are much less likely to jump into the role of Persecutor. Therefore, the more that you cultivate your peace of mind in any number of ways, such as exercise, laughing, meditating, or interviewing emerging potentials that have more peace of mind than you do, as you learn to do in IDL, the less likely you are to wage war or to condone it.

“Every war is horrible, but freedom and justice cannot be allowed to be defeated by tyranny and injustice. As hideous as war is, it is not as hideous as the things it can stop and prevent.”

Higgs says, “This statement assumes that war amounts to a contest between freedom and justice on one side and tyranny and injustice on the other.”  Can anyone believe such a simplistic reductionism once they recognize it for what it is? This is a Manichean world view, in which God, light, and love are on one side while Satan, darkness, and hate are on the other. This mind set is associated with a category of primitive mental illness called “personality disorders.” It is primitive because it reflects the normal, dualistic, overly concrete thinking of a two year old. It is a mental illness when it is displayed by adults because it splits not only the world into good and bad but oneself as well. The result is that you are perpetually at war not only with the world but with yourself. So this way of thinking effectively throws you into outer darkness. There is no possibility of peace of mind within a world view so constructed. It is a sign of psychological maturity to be able to see, tolerate, and appreciate contradiction, diversity, and that which first appears threatening. If you can’t do so, you’re in the Drama Triangle. You need adult supervision.

Fortunately, such is at hand. You can associate with people who do not split the world into black and white but instead know how to tolerate and appreciate ambiguity. You can learn IDL so you can associate with emerging potentials that have more confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and objectivity than you do. You can learn how to recognize a cognitive distortion when you hear it and challenge it, activating your common sense and putting it to work to keep you from spending your life dancing with tar babies.

You enslave yourself when you lower yourself to the tactics of your enemy. You make yourself into them. It is like responding to a name-calling four year old with name calling. Because one human is immature, does regression to his level make either more humane?  Because your foe is unjust, does an unjust response inspire your opponent or neutral others to support you? If your enemy represents a part of yourself, then when you see him as such, whether in waking life, in your bad habits, or in dream monsters, you are at war with yourself. You have turned yourself into your own enemy. Nobody has done that to you. That is your own choice. Is that wise? If not, do you recognize you can, at any time, make a healthier one?

“I grant you the war is horrible, but it is a war, after all. You have to compare apples to apples, and when I do that, I see this war is going well.”

You use this argument when you think, “My prostitution of my values by taking a crappy job where I work for a predatory company and help it cheat people by selling them unhealthy or worthless products is not as bad as being a prostitute or working for the mafia.” You use this argument when you think, “Calling myself stupid, lazy, or a failure isn’t so bad,” when you know that you wouldn’t tolerate it if someone else called you, your partner, or child such names. You use this argument when you wake up from a nightmare and think, “It was only a dream!” In each case you are excusing enmeshment in the Drama Triangle as acceptable and as “not so bad” as it could be. This may be so; and the net result is that you stay stuck in the Drama Triangle.

“[Certain writers] agreed that war is horrible but said that the Bible gives government the authority to wage war to save innocent lives.” 

Higgs points out that a “just war” waged to save innocent lives is a convenient and commonly used excuse for killing a lot of innocent people, Christian or otherwise. Appeals to Biblical authority are only as effective as one’s belief in the Bible (which parts?). And what is to keep your enemy from making the same appeals with the same degree of legitimacy? Saying God is on your side is a convenient justification for doing whatever you want to do, nothing more. Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sacks, the financial derivative firm found guilty for defrauding investors for millions, if not billions, framed his occupation, before the U.S. congress, as “God’s work.”

There is plenty of Drama Triangle in the Bible. In fact, it is difficult to find parts of it that are not in the Drama Triangle. There is precious little guidance in the Bible about getting out and staying out of the Drama Triangle. If there were, might not more Jewish, Christian, and Islamic adherents would be out of it? The Bible gives not only governments, but you and me the authority, reasons, and excuses to stay in the Drama Triangle.

“War is horrible, but thank God you have men and women who are willing and able to protect your people and your freedom.”

Some of these rationalizations are crazy; some are scary. This one is scary crazy. Higgs makes the excellent point that each war that the U.S. has waged has left its citizens more disenfranchised than before the war.  Taxes were raised during both WWI and WWII. After each war the tax level remained elevated before being raised again by the next conflict. Suppression of freedom of speech increased with each war and was not completely regained afterward. The War on Terror has resulted in further erosion of human rights and freedom by the government.  The implication is, if you want to know who your enemy is, you only need look in the mirror. Just like the government, you externalize your own fears, thereby both amplifying and making them impossible to resolve without getting rid of the external world. Krishnamurti stated this concept concisely: “War is the spectacular and bloody projection of your everyday living. You precipitate war out of your daily lives; and without a transformation in yourselves, there are bound to be national and racial antagonisms, the childish quarreling over ideologies, the multiplication of soldiers, the saluting of flags, and all the many brutalities that go to create organized murder.”

Higgs states, “War, whether real or make-believe, serves to justify huge increases in government spending, taxing, borrowing, and exertion of power over private affairs, and such government surges attract opportunists galore while doing little or nothing to improve people’s real security or to protect their freedom.” Similarly, playing the role of Persecutor within the Drama Triangle, whether in the public or private domains, whether awake or dreaming, serves to justify huge increases in your expenditures of your precious life energy. You tax yourself, borrow from yourself, and impose crazy rules and behaviors on yourself, all in the name of protecting yourself from victimization by largely self-created, delusional threats. Assume that 95{be93f16b5d2e768a85ea81ebc8356f268811d3908838ae6233aa33d012b25ec9} of what you do, think, and feel is within the Drama Triangle, and that none of that is doing anything to improve your security or enhance your freedom.

“War is horrible, but some economic good came out of World War II. It brought the United States out of one of the greatest slumps in history, the Great Depression.” 

Even if this were true (it isn’t: government spending that created jobs ended the Great Depression, not the war), it is rather like arguing that electro-shock treatment is a good thing because it sometimes relieves depression, or witch-dunking is a good thing because sometimes witches repent as a result. Sometimes major chaos will reorder societies and individuals in improved ways, but might not those improvements have been derived by other means? Again, you will always be able to justify why you needed to indulge yourself in one or another role of the Drama Triangle, whether in communication with your child, your boss, or in a dream. However, the net result is that you remain stuck in it, a victim of your own stupidity.

“War is horrible but whining about it is worse. Either put up or shut up.”

Do you need to know and offer an alternative to the Drama Triangle to get out of it? No. It’s like a bully teasing a kid to get him to fight. The kid doesn’t have to fight. He has choices, and if a kid doesn’t have to fall into the Drama Triangle, you don’t have to either, not at work, not in your family, not in your thoughts, not in your dreams. You get to choose. Because you have this choice, you are not a Victim. Because you are not a Victim, you have no whining rights. your job is not to rescue others from the Drama Triangle. You can ask them to help you stay out and maybe in the process they will wake up and learn how and why they keep themselves stuck. You can even do this in dreams. You don’t have to respond to dream threats by feeling threatened. You don’t have to rescue yourself from imaginary threats by turning them into snowflakes, waking up, or changing the scene. As you share with others how and why you fall into war with yourself and ask them to help you to stop, the more you will gain allies in creating a culture that is not based on war, that is, on the Persecutor role of the Drama Triangle. Instead you will be creating a sub-culture that is based on peace and on amplifying the power and effectiveness of that peace within that sub-culture and within each of its members.

“Of course war is horrible, but at present it’s still the only guarantee to maintain peace.”

This is a total lie, fabrication, and delusion. Much worse, it’s a self-contradiction, which means it is irrational. War maintains war. Peace maintains peace. Higgs discusses how this statement may be used to promote the belief that preparations for war are necessary. But the same still holds true; what you prepare for you tend to attract. If you protect yourself against getting your heart broken you will either withdraw defensively, increasing the likelihood that you will be ill-prepared for your next love relationship, or, if you harden yourself against rejection but still date or interact with a partner, you are more likely to break your own heart by sealing it off from the chance of getting it squashed again.

From the above discussion I hope you will take away a clearer sense of how easily, how often, and how completely you delude yourself with rationalizations, justifications, and excuses for staying in the Drama Triangle, with that you stay at war with yourself. If you are at war with yourself you will attempt to escape it, to “win” it, by externalizing that war, thereby finding and creating enemies and persecutors outside yourself, where none existed or exist. If you resist this urge and refuse to perceive anyone or any situation in your outside world as a Persecutor, you will also find yourself persecuting yourself less. You will find the drama in your dreams dying down and dying out; you’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed. In short, you will find that you are in less conflict with yourself.

If you want to speed this process up, you will not only work at staying out of the Drama Triangle but at working at building its antidotes. This is done in IDL by interviewing the personifications of your life issues and your dream characters to get in touch with emerging potentials that score higher than you do in the antidotes for drama.  Essentially, the antidotes are related to the processes and qualities associated with each stage of the cycle of each breath you take. Your abdominal inhalation can be associated with the process of awakening and the quality of confidence that you see in the sprouting of a blade of grass or in a newborn. Your chest inhalation can be associated with the process of aliveness and the quality of compassion that you see in a life that is dedicated to service beyond its own needs to stay alive. The pause at the top of each breath can be associated with the process of balance and the quality of wisdom, of the type that comes when you reflect on the lessons of your life and learn from them. Your chest exhalation can be associated with the process of detachment and the quality of acceptance. Your abdominal exhalation can be associated with the process of freedom and the quality of inner peace. The longer pause at the bottom of each breath can be associated with the process of clarity and the quality of witnessing the drama of your life with objectivity. This cycle is a microcosm of the cycle of each day of your life and of the arc of your entire life. It is the cycle of civilizations, of human evolution. Inner peace and witnessing are the natural antidotes for Victimization within the Drama Triangle. Develop them and you won’t experience yourself as a victim. Compassion and acceptance are the natural antidotes for Rescuing within the Drama Triangle. Develop them and you won’t burn yourself out trying to rescue yourself or others.  Confidence and Wisdom are the natural antidotes for Persecution within the Drama Triangle. Develop them and you won’t persecute yourself or others.

Think about it. If you feel confidence, are you afraid? No. If you are not afraid, do you need to defend yourself by persecuting anyone or anything? No. If you are wise, you will see how giving into your fear only keeps you trapped in the Drama Triangle. Therefore, these qualities are not only antidotes to Persecution, but in the social-political macrocosm, antidotes to war. Clearly, because the roles of Victim and Rescuer create the role of Persecutor sooner or later, all six core qualities need to be developed, and IDL does this in a balanced, integrative manner.

Just as Higgs recommends that the burden of proof for constructive alternatives to war be placed on the adherent of war, so you need to look at when, how, and why you get into the role of Persecutor. You need to take responsibility for how you avoid taking responsibility! You abuse yourself. Stop. If you don’t, you will keep abusing others, whether you mean to or not. If you abuse others you are by your example, inciting a culture of war. Stop abusing yourself by waking up to when and how you are in the Drama Triangle and by learning to cultivate the antidotes to each of the three roles. You have a lot of help. Find others that stay out of drama. Interview parts of yourself that don’t do drama. Use your common sense to see through your rationalizations and justifications for staying stuck. You can awaken the entire world out of drama. But it starts with you. Howard Zinn said, “How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?” Persecution is terrorism. Self-persecution is to terrorize yourself. If you look at it this way, perhaps you will sustain the conviction to grow up and stop war in your life, inside and out.



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