Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.


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What if Hawks & Doves Married Moral Codes?

Soldiers and peace activists both follow a code of moral conduct so compelling they are willing to put their lives in peril.

Peace “doves” believe humanity isn’t humane if it’s organized around killing and war. Military “hawks” believe societies can’t survive without establishing boundaries via military engagement.

Both care about human justice. Both possess some level of empathy. The Q isn’t whose morals are better angels or lesser evils. But whose are achieving their humane ideals?

For hawks: How are billions in spending and millions of deaths achieving human progress?

And doves: How are your methods missing the mark, while millions still die?

These require understanding moral codes rhetoric. Empathy, like compassion, has lost much in translation. Both now imply something close to inertia and impotence, if not cloaked insincerity.

We’ve attached much to these internalized “aren’t I/we humane because we/I feel and care” and little to externalized “it’s my job as a person of conscience to take humane action.”

A philosophical “if/then” equation emerges. The variables are short-term self-gain v. long-term moral-self gain.

David Brooks’ article The Limits of Empathy notes “Nazi prison guards sometimes wept as they mowed down Jewish women and children.”

Nazis’ genocidal interpretations of this if/then equation were: “If I kill these people, then I’ll protect my self.” Rather than: “If I kill these people, then I am violating my job as a humane man.” Or: “If I kill these people, then I can’t live with myself.”

Nazis “traded” others’ lives for short-term gain. They didn’t decide: “I am not willing to trade my morals to save my job/rank/title. Or even, my life.”

Soldiers and peace-activists make this latter choice daily: a conscious decision to enact one’s code of conscience.

Can soldiers and peace activists connect moral-code forces for non-violent solutions?

Constructive comments only, please.

Thank you --

  • Oct 15 2011: As humans, I feel like there's a balance of both worlds - let's look at this individualistically first - there are things that we'd like remain stable - within ourselves - our ability to stand tall, feel proud and look after ourselves; sometimes that means dealing with adversaries - but, we'd have to do it, or we'd lose our self-esteem and then we'd drain our life, rather than live it.

    However, we also like striving to change and become better people, gain knowledge, balance our diet, love and understand more.

    It's like Yin and Yan - we need to hold onto our strengths and stability before we can MOVE ON to the change we want to see happen.

    I think the key is changing the definition of 'hawks' - We need to establish stability FIRST (like infant attachment) before we can explore 'sharing' etc.

    The problem, as I see it, is that society has pitted stability against change - such that this 'pitting' has been seen through a lens much like a social 'norm' - i.e., it's 'normal' that stability and change are at odds - and it can't be that way - i strongly believe that in order to see change, we need to allow stability to have it's way (to a degree) so that people don't feel like they have to give up one in order to have the other.

    Perhpas we can be both hawks (re-defined) and doves.
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    Oct 1 2011: Andrea the only period in history without war was during the epiphany of Creta. Thousand years of peace. We have to search in the past to find the clues for "'kick him off his high horse". Remember the Aristofanes play "Lysistrata". She propose a sex-strike to recover peace, and in the end she and her friends put the final point to the Peloponeso war.

    Marlene Temmerman did the same in the belgian governement. No sex untill the politicians sign an agreement. (February 2011).
    You woman have the power to kick off the war.
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      Oct 2 2011: Luigi --


      Women leading a boycott on love-making until peace-making is achieved!

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        Oct 2 2011: Andrea The history give us profound wisdom examples. More or less we are the same than in the antiquity, so we can follow old paths.
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    Oct 1 2011: In my opinion, the solution will not arise from a connection between hawks and doves. They are both effects of the underlying problem.

    Imagine trying to solve the problem of malaria with only insecticide and quinine. These have significant effects, but do not deliver a complete solution.

    Hawks try to beat threats into impotence. Doves try to beat sense into the heads of the violent. They have significant effects, but do not deliver a complete solution.

    Like malaria, war can't be battered or medicated into submission. What can work is an understanding of the cause. The cause of malaria is a particular kind of parasite. The cause of war is humans.

    The malarial parasites don't know any better and have no reason to change. Humans, on the other hand, can learn more about what makes them tick. They can change once they see that it's in their interest to do so.

    So rather than think in terms of Hawks and Doves, why not look at two other groupings? Specifically: (1) Who can see the advantages of cooperating? and (2) Who resists letting us see the advantages of cooperating?

    Every one of us can be in both groups 1 and 2 simultaneously. My feeling is that the internet is now moving us farther from 2 and closer to 1. Perhaps it will help us make the transition before we destroy ourselves.
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      Oct 1 2011: Timothy --

      Excellent food for thought. Which leaves me with more Qs to build on yours:

      Who are likely to see the advantages of cooperating?
      And what self-interests can be satisfied for those who resist revealing the advantages that would inspire them to engage cooperatively?

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        Oct 1 2011: "Who are likely to see the advantages of cooperating?"

        Anyone with a modicum of human-type intelligence can see the advantages of cooperation. Of course, they may weigh this against the perceived advantages of contention.

        "And what self-interests can be satisfied for those who resist revealing the advantages that would inspire them to engage cooperatively?"

        Let's not forget that it is not Those Bad People Over There who are resisting the information; it is every one of us. Even a "Dove" who throws red paint on somebody's fur coat is living in contention, no matter how pure he conceives his motives to be.

        It can be impossible to identify a "self-interest" for overlooking cooperation. In many cases the resistance is a matter of memetic inertia (e.g. culture, upbringing) or bad (incomplete or incorrect) information.

        It seems to me that the problem is almost entirely explainable by a single word: conception. What people conceive leads them away from cooperation and toward contention. Thus, "That human is not of my religion, so we must fight" or "That human's skin is the wrong shade of brown, so I must treat him differently" or "That human's economic system is a bad idea, so he must be stopped."

        It's almost always a software problem, not a hardware problem. And as they say in the computer industry: GIGO — Garbage In, Garbage Out. If our notions are flawed, our actions will be, too.

        As long as we imagine ourselves to be separate from one another, we will fight. The truth can set us free, eventually, and the internet is helping a lot with this. People on the other side of the globe used to seem EXTREMELY separate but now they are nearly neighbours.

        But as long as we continue to foster conceptions of separation, we will be at odds with one another. Man against man, man against woman, husband against wife, human against animal, and so on. This is how we have been taught to conceive of things, and for the most part it's just not true.
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    Oct 7 2011: I am entrenched in the debilitaing effects of habit. As it has been so it shall always be."" If i fight in the school yard will i always know that it is my last resort. I will fight for my existence when it is threatened. i perhaps will also fight for my territory if i am to be enslaved. I am a peace lover but i will fight to survive and to protect those i love. Thankfully i have managed to avoid a fight for over 30 years. No mean feat given i work with angry young men. My powers of negotiation and empathy have matured. Is war childish behaviour then? It certainly seems the domain of men. They say most problematic male behaviour can be solved through castration but perhaps that is a little drastic. . In Australia we banned the gun after a mass murder and suicide and death by gun has decreased. Has the arms race got out of control. What do we invest in ourselves when we invest in guns? You bring up the big question and i know i do not have the answer to this question. I wish things were different Andrea. It makes me sick to the core when i here of needless loss of life. It makes me ashamed to be human when i hear these things. Hmmmph!
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    Oct 6 2011: What if hawks or doves have a whole range of options between these 2 poles to think, operate and learn from?
  • Oct 3 2011: Hello Andrea,

    To directly answer your question, what if hawks and doves married moral codes. They did, a long time ago, in a far away land and they had a beautiful daughter, and her name was Geneva. And then there was another marriage, and they had a son and his name was CIA. But you have to be very, very careful not to upset CIA. Because CIA is a very, very protective poppa bear. And if you upset CIA he will make you famous. And you will be in the daily news. So now the hawks and the doves are taking marital advice from George Clooney. So at least the doves can live happily ever after.

    Your discussion is a great one. Hope you can read in between my lines. I was named 7 years after my fathers oldest brother died in war, at the age of 24 .
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      Oct 3 2011: Nat Strafaci your enigma words are very clear. The simbols and forms, the names and the places...shhhhh.... dont upset poppa bear.
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    Oct 1 2011: Andrea, the war and peace dialectics are not allways connected to violence. The distance betwen hawks and doves is pulled from one or another pole....from the center to the periferia for example...but the question is ...Who pull the string until the very intense tension brokes the relation?...and why?

    The moral codes from peace times are different from the war time codes. If we contemplate very quietly the memorial monument in Washinghton designed by Maya Lin maybe we can find some clues. Its rare but sometimes the hawks result the victim.
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      Oct 1 2011: Luigi --

      To reflect your point regards moral codes during times of peace and the Vietnam War.

      Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial forms a "V" with one side facing nearby Lincoln Memorial and the other facing Washington Memorial.

      I recall the controversy around the non-traditional minimalist design.

      Just polished black granite slabs with the names of 58 thousand American forces lost or missing in the war chiseled into two enormous slabs which peaks at roughly eye-level in the middle and gradually descending into the ground at each end.

      The debate was around it's less "stereotyped as masculine" effect. And unprecedented "stereotyped-as-feminine" energies. Among these were its evocation of a gash in the below-ground level enclave-like earth it was built into.

      Contrasting the effect of many awesome monuments. It was meant to elicit engagement by visitors, including through both literal and figurative reflection. Rain appears as "tears."

      This and other effects trigger emotional and spiritual consciousness, as well as tactile. And visual, via glimpses of self mirrored back when in close proximity to the shiny surface. To connect the humanity of the visitor to the veteran whose name(s) they approach to read or touch the names.

      This naming of American casualties was considered anathema to the military norm that calls for soldier's homogeneity. And akin to political dissent by some. But Lin is a humanist and interpreted the monument through this apolitical, rather than traditional militaristic lenses.

      Lin's design mirrors the soaring obelisk of Washington Monument, which can't otherwise be seen from the site. Names of Vietnams dead are thus juxtaposed over this most visible symbol on the Mall.

      It occurs to me George Washington's military was voluntary. Vietnam's was not.

      An earthquake cracked the Washington Monument, which remains closed indefinitely. the day after Martin Luther King' Jr's monument was unveiled.

      A prescient coincidence?

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        Oct 1 2011: Andrea, your reflections on the polished granite surface are in deep relation with the sense of living things. The war is the sense of mortal significance that commands the life. (In Freud terms), but the peace is the art to be far from war. Is not the bench in the porche to be seated and contemlate the sunset. In the Roman Empire, the art of war was described as: SI VIS PACEM PARABELLUM.
        (If you want peace be prepared for war). At the very same time, the foundational times for the Christianism spread the seed for nurturing peace with love.

        The minimal design is tha maximun eloquence. Said more with less. The sadness that provoque me the Memorial wall from Maya Lin is very deep. The war is one of the apocalipse riders, And he is right now among us.
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          Oct 1 2011: Luigi --

          How 'bout we kick him off his high-horse?

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          Oct 2 2011: Luigi --

          I presume by the "founding times of Christianism" you mean the time of Christ as the time the seeds of nurturing peace with love were spread?

          If so, it pays to recall Christ lived a life that eschewed the practice or praise of high arts, including war.

          It was an elegantly (though humbly) embodied minimalist masterpiece that reflected humanity through love, not war.

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      Oct 1 2011: I hope that I am interpreting Luigi's statement right but I am in such agreement that the Hawks are too often the victims. They pay such a price for their stance! As a Dove, I agonize over the price they pay and I love part of their spirit that is so willing to protect and defend. In the famous passage read at many wedding ceremonies it says "Love always protects." At their very best Hawks do this.

      When I wrote below of common ground on the treatment of soldiers, I hope that it is clear that I think that by truly caring for our wounded -and I include Canada in this because we are doing a lousy job of it- every citizen, Dove or Hawk should take responsibility for sending these people into harm's way. We live in democracy and even if this is one of those times when the vote did not go the way I wanted it to (going to war) this is my country, these are my people doing what our country sent them to do. They deserve to be able to count on us in return. They gave to their country a part of their very life, we owe them restoration as far as it is possible. No money should be spent on buying one more weapon of war, one more advancement in technology until our duty to them is discharged.

      I think that if we did take more responsibility, if we did not turn away we would make such decisions with a whole lot more reverence, awareness and deliberation in the future.
      I think that if the VA in the USA was immediately subsumed under the responsibly of the Armed forces and those men and women were in for life or restoration, Generals and all who put them in harms way would have to really face the consequences of high level decisions. They should also have first dibs on government employment.

      Finally, though. We all, Doves and Hawks alike, suffer when our societies have to face the result of these decisions on the lives of our young, on our position in the world and the way those who we invaded have to try to rebuild their lives with the memory of our forces in their countries.
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      Oct 7 2011: Dear Luigi we all miss you so much. Your wisdom remains in our heart. Thank you for company in those happy years. I know that you see and feel all this. Light in the light for you. Now you are in the eternity, some day we join to you.
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    Oct 1 2011: Can soldiers and peace activists connect moral-code forces for non-violent solutions?

    Where I think we have common ground is on the treatment of soldiers. There was a woman, an American soldier, who I absolutely adored who started a question on TED. She earnestly wanted to know why we do not want to listen to soldiers. She had this fresh pretty face that broke some of my stereotypes about who soldiers were. I am a mom who prayed though out my pregnancies that my children would never experience war. We communicated with great respect and good will back and forth for some time and then she just disappeared. The common ground we shared was about the treatment of soldiers. She agonized over their treatment. I agonized too.

    The question that we could not answer was if the motto of the American armed forces is to "Leave no man behind" and if the American war machine is one of the most extravagantly funded organizations of all time why do they not care for their sick and wounded? Why? Why? Why? does anyone accept the answer that it is the responsibility of the seriously underfunded Veteran's administration? Why do the Armed forces and the American people wring their hands and bemoan their treatment when all it would take is for the Armed Forces to say- "They're ours, we broke them, we fix them. Give them back to us." and turn some of their astronomical resources over to their own.

    Since when does Semper Fidelis mean until you are wounded and broken then you are on your own? The truth of soldiers is that in the battle they fight not for ideologies but for their buddies. The sad other truth though is that they do not know how to fight an enemy which is the structure that destroys their buddies from the home front.

    Thank you so much for the Deborah Scranton TED talk. I do not know how I missed it and it was profoundly important. This is exactly the kind of film that I want access to through the hypothetical TED playhouse for which I have been agitating.
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      Oct 1 2011: Debra --

      Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates called out Congress for not funding soldiers' well-being. And I know in the military who share the concern.

      Here is how the US Army defines well-being as mission critical::

      "Well-Being is directly linked to the relevance and readiness of our Army. Well- Being programs focus on meeting the needs of Soldiers (Active Duty, Army National Guard and Army Reserve), DA Civilians, Veterans, Retirees and Families - before, during and after deployment.

      In the past, the Army's programs concentrated on the quality of life of our people - defined as a standard of living to which individuals, communities, and nations strive to meet or exceed. Army Well-Being organizes and integrates these quality of life initiatives and programs into a Well-Being "framework.

      This framework provides a way to measure success in the Army's people programs and to address emerging needs of our transforming Army. Army Well-Being is the "bridge" that connects Army needs with individual needs and at the core of all Well-Being initiatives are four strategic goals.

      These goals address the primary and basic needs of each member of the Total Army Family: To Serve, To Live, To Connect and To Grow."

      Needless to say, there is a disconnect if not in interpretation, certainly in outcomes of this mission.

      A candle in the darkness is this excellent talk given to West Point:

      From it:

      "As different as the armed forces are in so many ways from every other institution in society, in that respect they are the same. And so you need to know how bureaucracies operate, what kind of behavior—what kind of character—they reward,"

      "So it's perfectly natural to have doubts, or questions, or even just difficulties. The question is, what do you do with them? Do you suppress them, do you distract yourself from them, do you pretend they don’t exist? Or do you confront them directly, honestly, courageously?"

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        Oct 2 2011: This is good information. I think there are many with the will to do the right thing.

        Unfortunately, I work for a company that has dealings with VA hospitals and what I hear, and what that young woman that I referred to implied is that they are not exactly state of the art and they continually struggle with under funding and many systemic problems that leave wounded soldiers without adequate help.

        Redeploying some of the monies that make war to help soldiers seems to me to be a place where we could all benefit and achieve the goals of both the Hawks and the Doves.
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          Oct 2 2011: Debra --

          I've heard much the same from VA staff.

          My state (Minnesota) has the highest military personnel suicide rate in the country.

          The suicide prevention coordinator at the VA told me what is most concerning is not only is the rate climbing and well above the civilian rate, it is increasing in woman and never-deployed soldiers, too.

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        Oct 2 2011: We have a high rate of emotional dysfunction and suicide in Canada among our soldiers returning from Afghanistan too. Not long ago there was some controversy over hospital counselling services closest to military bases being absolutely exhausted by military men and families trying to get counselling and support. I was ashamed that they had to face any delay, any struggle to get what they need. Although we have a Highway of Heroes here in Canada where we stand in honour of our fallen soldiers, it appears that our wounded are relegated to taking the back road sometimes.

        The military staff and their families who suffer along with them wanted to get help outside of the military context so that they could preserve their privacy and not hinder their careers. As Canadian citizens they absolutely have the right to care under our healthcare system but the hospitals ran out of additional funding to cover it and the need was so great that other civilians could not get service. Why are governments so inflexible as to be unable to cover emergencies like this? As families with budgets we usually have an emergency fund for unforeseen crises.

        They are ours. They need help. We owe it to them and they should not endure any shame whatsoever in getting it. I repeat: WE BROKE THEM and WE SHOULD FIX THEM!
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          Oct 2 2011: Debra --

          I understand your despair. And share it.

          However, I do not see soldiers as broken. I don't see their dysfunction as different than others. And, I see the institutions involved as most dysfunctional of all.

          In fact, while their are injuries which need healing. As opposed to "brokenness" that needs to be repaired by others. And I do think physical and psychological healing can and ideally always would be induced by institutional methods. I don't in reality think healing of any sort can be fully achieved by institutions and their methods. No matter how state-of-the-art.

          Healing happens most robustly in sustained and dialectic relationships. Wherein the person in most acute pain may be the catalyst for healing, those present to the pain are healed as much by the person in clear pain as s/he him/herself is.

          In terms of veterans, this means, we must see them as constructive to our societies, no matter how wounded they are. They have something to offer. Not only spiritual or emotional connection, but quite often concrete skills, energies, information and wisdom.

          This is a gift soldiers offer (knowingly or not) to societies well beyond clinical realms. The biggest challenge of all is engaging soldiers to see this in themselves and allowing them to share it in respectful, constructive and where possible public ways.

          Imagine, for example this: A soldier so emotionally exhausted as to meet diagnostic criteria for depression. Caught in the quagmire not only of institutional failures but by his/her cycling thoughts and feelings. He is pissed and distraught enough to contemplate action.

          What is familiar is violence. Which doesn't help. What is also familiar is routine and physical exercise.

          He's too raw to construct a way out.. So, as the ARMY instructs leaders, don't wait for the soldier to speak his/her needs. And don't disrespect their dignity by assuming them.

          Do seek their help in scheduled, constructive physical work.

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        Oct 3 2011: I see your perspective and understand your point. As someone with an MA in Psychology I do get it. My use of brokenness is a metaphor such as is used in the phrase heart break.
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    Oct 2 2011: Andrea ...Have you seen this ?
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      Oct 3 2011: Luigi --

      No. Heartbreaking and heroic.

      This vet, Michael Pryzsner, would have been deployed during "Shock and Awe," the same time David Mahlke, a young man I profiled in a long-form article was. Both were 17 when enlisted.

      David was the first Minnesota veteran returned injured from Iraq. He suffered a closed-brain injury and went into cardiac arrest twice.

      Here is the article:

      Unfortunately, it is only few-hundred words stub. To see the full article you have to pay a fee to High Beam. (Or if you send me a note via TED email with a place I can send a PDF.)