It is certainly not a leap of faith to declare that the universal prerequisite to the successful solution of any problem is the determination of the relevant issue in the applicable context. Whether the problem is understood to be mathematical, biological, social, astrophysical, or otherwise, the context needs to be properly determined so that efforts may be expended in a usefully directed search for its solution.  Where the context of inquiry is amorphous or irrelevant, efforts are doomed to be fruitless.

The continuing tragedy of warfare is as old as mankind, despite the many sincere and creative efforts at its elimination. Spain v. Catalonia, Tutsi v. Hutu, Arab v. Israeli, Shia v. Sunni, Moslem v. Hindu, White v. Black, and so on, since the dawn of man and hopefully, not until his complete destruction. We have certainly had far more than enough.

In previous writings, we have maintained that the fundamental problem seems to be the “we” and “they” conceptualization, passed on to succeeding generations of the young, despite the evident fact that the acquisition of culture and ethnicity is by the random accident of birth. It appears be a matter of unhappy historical experience that the atavistic categories of “we” and “they” have overridden all efforts by world organizations, conferences, inter -cultural exchanges and other sincere and valiant attempts to achieve world peace.

When the writer of this note was a high school student, he profited from the sudden realization that a change in context or reference can be the effective route to the solution of difficult questions. He was offered two candy bars if he could solve the “ageless dilemma” of which came first, the chicken or the egg.  By fortuitously selecting the appropriate context, evolution, he astonished the challenger, and while he never received public acclaim for this historic advance, did earn the two bars of candy. The answer was clear, once one considered the context of evolution; it was the egg that came first, laid by a creature who immediately preceded the chicken in evolution. That egg, when hatched, became the first chicken. This reference for supposedly unanswerable question, remarkably, still has not gone extinct.

It may well be time for the consideration of an entirely new context in the endeavor to eliminate war and attain lasting peace. A new approach to xenophobia, secular or religious, might be considered in an untried and novel setting, as a pathology, rather than the hapless replication of our bovine-like rumination of previously ingested oats.

We might start with the subject of “phobia,” the pathological category of anxiety disorders consisting of strong and unnatural fear of something that poses no especial danger. Thus, agoraphobia, fear of high places, claustrophobia, fear of confined spaces, arachnophobia, fear of spiders, acrophobia, the fear of going out, and so on. We have found more than 100 distinct phobias (even, banana phobia, terror at seeing a banana] and that specifically applicable therapies have been developed for such pathologies.

It is remarkable that the existence of “xenophobia” does not appear to have made the list in our examination of phobia pathology. {Xeno, in Greek = people, Phobia =fear]. Can it be possible that in our desperate search for world peace, we have not considered an important category? Has xenophobia been relegated solely to the academic context of political science and viewed mundanely as ultra- nationalism prejudice and ethnocentrism?

In a true leap of faith, we would propose the possibility that at the heart of conflict and warfare may effectively be a dangerous phobia, xenophobia [ extreme nationalism, racial prejudice, ultra-patriotism] and that possible cure and amelioration of the dread disease of world war has not been attained because it has never been considered in its true setting, the laboratory of medical-psychological science.

If indeed, war is the result of a phobic fear of “others,” might it not properly be treated, on some determined scale, effectively as an illness by group therapy, medicine, behavioral therapy, as applicable and remedial regarding other recognized and treatable phobias?

We can only know if we try.




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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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