The Coastal Post - September, 1998

The Brawn Trust

By Guy W. Meyer

Many of us have seen (or tried it ourselves) men confront an ill-functioning tool with a kick or a blow. Once in a great while the temporarily-stuck tool resumes functioning, and the kicker smiles and nods in triumph.

Usually tool-kicking is done in jest, but I have run across those who seem to believe that this is more than likely to work. There are people who address many problems on this level of intelligence. They trust in brawn rather than brain. Obviously this is a primitive approach.

When kicking the non-functioning tool fails to get results, the brawn-truster believes the problem was that he didn't kick hard enough. His solution is to apply a stiffer dose of brawn.

A woman complained to a well-known advice columnist, "No matter how hard I beat my boy he continues to misbehave."

Brawn-trusters approach social problems on this level. "If it's socially harmful, crush it!" Large numbers of ill-educated people go for the brawn solution because it seems to them simple and obvious.

Most will agree that drug addiction can ruin lives. Obviously, if drugs are made unavailable, many lives may be saved. Therefore, end the drug trade. The "war on drugs" naturally becomes a favorite cause for politicians on every level. "Crush the drug trade!"

Well, the drug trade merely went underground and at this time shows no signs of folding up its tents.

The brain-trusters, by contrast, are given little attention. We hear little of research into the motivations for drug consumption. Is it merely for physical pleasure? To answer a psychological need? Does it sprout from other social problems-poverty, joblessness, ignorance? If its profits were eliminated through regulation rather than prohibition, would the trade continue?

The politician who promises to be "tough on crime" has a great political advantage over rivals who may present solutions based on the causes of crime. "Tough on crime" means larger fines and sentences, more jails, and more activities designated as criminal. The death penalty is almost sacred to many brawntrusters, whether or not it reduces murder rates. It seems that the crime of murder must be crushed.

Over and over again we hear from death penalty advocates, "If you don't agree to stamping out murderers, you are on their side and without concern for their victims."

Brawntrusters see homosexuality as another crime that must be stamped out. The least punishment that can be inflicted on such persons is to prevent them from having "special privileges," such as equal rights.

There are those who felt that mental illness should be stamped out. Simple: Euthanize all the mentally ill-and others deemed to be harmful, members of a different religions, braintrusters (liberals) who are out of step with the brawntrusters. The arch-brawntrusters of the 20th century were, of course, the Nazis.

These were succeeded by a new wave of brawntrusters. Inspired by the highest ideals for a new world order, followers of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin tried to violently stamp their brand of utopia on peoples throughout the world.

Kicking the stalled car, hitting the non-functioning tool or engine rarely solves the problem. It merely makes matters worse, as resulted from the Communist attempted takeover strategy.

In the past, the U.S. brawntrust sought to impose its will on the people of Vietnam. Currently our foreign policy vis--vis Cuba and Iraq is that of the brawntrusters.

Our present national government emphasizes brawntrusting. From the war on drugs and the death penalty to a foreign policy of punishing the children, women, and men of unacceptable nations-Cuba and Iraq-we see this dominant faith in the power of force.

The resort to force to solve a problem arises from ignorance of the nature of the problem, whether a non-functioning tool or a social problem. The tyrant is the brawntruster par excellence. He believes he has no need to solve any social problem in this domain other than by crushing it-silencing all who might dare to mention a problem that needs careful examination.

Not only ignorance but fear motivates the brawntruster. He fears the different. He fears change. Instead of trying to understand change, to help guide it in a direction of benefit to all, his fear drives him to block it, to deter it.

Deterrence is the basic principle for such responders. Nuclear deterrence, heavy criminal penalties, death sentences are his solutions to major problems.

Unfortunately, deterrence has a very limited and temporary effectiveness, if any. It is time to pay more attention to the braintrusters, the carers for human and environmental well-being, who, free from fear, dare to carefully examine the problems, and free from ignorance, are in a position to offer the best solutions to the serious problems that plague us.

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