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Pawlak Sam Keen's Faces of the Enemy: Book Synopsis and Poem

English II LOTF

What does it take for the citizens of one society to hate the citizens of another society to the degree that they want to segregate them, torment them, even to kill them? It requires a hostile imagination, a psychological construction embedded deeply in their minds by propaganda that transforms those others into The Enemy. That image is a soldiers most powerful motive, one that loads his rifle with ammunition of hate and fear. That image of a dreaded enemy threatening ones personal well-being and the societys national security emboldens mothers and fathers to send sons to war, and empowers governments to rearrange priorities to turn ploughshares into swords of destruction. It is all done with words and images. To modify an old adage: Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can sometimes kill you. The process begins with stereotyped conceptions of the other, dehumanized perceptions of the other, the other as worthless, the other as all-powerful, the other as demonic, the other as an abstract monster, the other as a fundamental threat to our cherished values and beliefs. With public fear notched up and enemy threat imminent, reasonable people act irrationally, independent people act in mindless conformity, and peaceful people act as warriors. Dramatic visual images of the enemy on posters, television, magazine covers, movies, and the internet imprint on the recesses of the limbic system, the primitive brain, with the powerful emotions of fear and hate. Social philosopher, Sam Keen, brilliantly depicts how this hostile imagination is created by virtually every nation's propaganda on its path to war, and the transformative powers on the human psyche of these 'images of the enemy. Justifications for the desire to destroy these threats are really afterthoughts, merely proposed explanation for the official record, but not for critical analysis of the damage to be done, or being done.

To Create An Enemy
by Sam Keen Start with an empty canvas Sketch in broad outline the forms of men, women, and children. Dip into the well of your own disowned darkness with a wide brush and stain the strangers with the sinister hue of the shadow. Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed, hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as your own. Obscure the sweet individuality of each face. Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes, fears that play through the kaleidoscope of every finite heart. Twist the smile until it forms the downward arc of cruelty. Strip flesh from bone until only the abstract skeleton of death remains.

Exaggerate each feature until man is metamorphasized into beast, vermin, insect. Fill in the background with malignant figures from ancient nightmares - devils demons, myrmidons of evil. When your icon of the enemy is complete you will be able to kill without guilt, slaughter without shame. The thing you destroy will have become merely an enemy of God, an impediment to the sacred dialectic of history.