In a press interview in Rajneeshpuram, on 26 July 1985, Osho replies to a question by Swami Shanti Prabhu of the Rajneesh Times.
Osho, it has been said that violence is as American as apple pie. Why is the United States – a country that prides itself as a land of freedom – such a violent place? Is there a relation between violence in America and its so-called freedom?
Violence in America has deep roots. It is the only continent in the world which is being ruled by foreigners. The native red Indians, to whom this continent belongs, are almost finished; and the people who think they are Americans, none of them are American. They have all come from other countries, invaded the poor country, invaded the poor innocent natives. The roots of violence are there.
The people who had come into power over this continent through violence have remained in power through violence. Unless the continent is given back to its people, this violence is going to remain.
It is a strange phenomenon that the foreigners who are ruling the country are trying to prevent others from living here. We are not trying to rule the country. We are not invaders. They are trying to call us foreigners just because they came here three or four generations ago. Time makes no difference. They are all foreigners.
We are not rulers. We have not invaded the country. We have not killed its people. We have not destroyed its people’s integrity and spirit. We have purchased the land and we have purchased it for the right price. Do you know how much the invaders paid the red Indians for the whole of New York City? – thirty dollars. The whole of New York was purchased for thirty dollars. This is not purchasing, this is cheating innocent people.
The people who came in the early days of America were really criminals. They were thrown out of their countries, expelled. Those criminals became presidents, became chief justices of the Supreme Court. They were expelled from their own countries for crimes which were so big that the countries could not tolerate them. They would either kill them or throw them out.
Then people from Africa were forced, bribed, persuaded and given great promises, hopes that they were going to a rich world where they would receive all the facilities. What they found here was that they were sold in the marketplace just like cattle. Slavery had disappeared from the whole world, and it appeared just three centuries ago in America. And the slaves, although no longer called slaves, still are not first-class citizens.
This continent is based on violence. It has repressed the red Indians in such ugly ways… it is difficult to imagine what man can do to man. Red Indians are living almost in concentration camps. Of course, they are not called concentration camps. They are called reservations, especially reserved for red Indians.
Why should red Indians not be allowed to mix in society? It is their land. They have lived here for thousands of years, but now they are confined to forests and mountains, on reservations, and they are being given pensions. On the surface it looks humanitarian, as if we are ruling over their continent and we are paying them. For generations we have been paying them but to pay them salaries for no work is not humanitarian.
What will they do with that money? They will get drunk; they will take drugs. They will gamble; they will fight, kill each other. What else do they have to do? Money comes without any effort. They will go on creating more and more children because with each child comes more money. To give people money without work is to reduce them into drunkards, gamblers, murderers. You have taken their dignity.
On the surface everything looks so whitewashed, clean. It can be claimed that you are giving them money because you are using their land. But the real purpose is to keep them drunk, fighting, gambling, rowdy, and to keep them in such a state that they never again think of being free, that they never think of getting rid of all the invaders of this continent.
The whole society is interwoven with violence. The black people are downtrodden. There are thousands of people on the streets with no home. What do you expect them to do? They will do every kind of crime, they have nothing to lose. And America goes on pretending to the whole world, that wherever there is any trouble, we are going to help. You can’t help your own people. Twenty-five percent of Americans who are able to work are unemployed, and America goes to help Ethiopia!
In America, Ethiopia is spread everywhere – just thinly, but it is there – and violence will come out. These people who have lost everything, respect, humanity, integrity, they have been treated like animals. You cannot expect the country to live without violence.
Basically, America is one of the greatest destructive powers in the world. The whole government is working with only one object, to win the third world war. But they are simply fools, because nobody can win the third world war, neither the Soviet Union nor America. The difference may be at the most ten minutes. Whoever attacks first, it will take only ten minutes for the other party to attack back. Nuclear weapons are ready on both sides, so it is not a question of somebody getting defeated and somebody else becoming victorious. It is simply suicidal. Both will be destroyed, and with them all life on earth will be destroyed.
If your great leaders, political, religious and others, are bent upon having a third world war, if all your scientific and military efforts are just aimed at one point – how to destroy the Soviet Union and how to destroy communism in the world – who are you to take responsibility for the whole world? Who are you to decide that the Soviet Union should not be communist? It is none of your business.
Your government is utterly violent. The whole structure of society is violent. There are the superrich and there are the super-poor in this country. The distance between the rich and the poor is too big. Naturally, the poor man becomes violent – he is angry. Your priests and bishops go on teaching the poor to be contented, but how long do you think you can keep them contented?
Now old strategies won’t work. You have used this strategy for thousands of years in the whole world, but it is not going to work in America. It is a new country. It has only three hundred years’ civilization, which is nothing compared to countries like China or India with histories of thousands of years.
This country is new and its poor have seen clearly that they have been exploited. In India they have never seen it clearly – they have been exploited for thousands of years. They don’t remember any time when there was not poverty. They have accepted poverty as the law of nature, the will of God.
But you cannot deceive the American poor. He has seen with his own eyes that those who were cunning and clever have exploited him and become rich. He has seen people who were criminals becoming rich; and he has seen simple, innocent people who were not criminals becoming poor. You cannot deceive the American poor. You cannot tell him that he is suffering from his past lives’ actions, because he knows perfectly well that he is suffering from other Americans and their actions.
In such a small period of history – three hundred years – things are very crystal clear. They had all come to America. They were all equal. Nobody was rich, nobody was poor. Then, suddenly, a few people started becoming richer and richer and richer, the richest in the world, and a few people started falling down. They have seen with their own eyes how one becomes rich. It is not by right means. It is by exploiting, by cunning, by every kind of means – good or bad does not matter.
The American poor have a very different attitude from the poor in any other country, because all those countries are very ancient. They don’t remember their beginnings; they don’t know what happened in the beginning so that a few people became poor and a few people became rich. They think it has always been so. But the American poor have a unique situation. They know what has happened. They cannot forgive it. They cannot forget it. That brings violence.
Violence is the religion of America. And America is despised and condemned all over the world – even those countries receiving American help are not sympathetic towards America. I know it. In India you will not find a single person who is sympathetic towards America. And America has been helping: whenever there is a famine or floods or no rain for years, and people are dying, America is always ready to help. But American help does not create sympathy for America. On the contrary, it offends, because they know what you are doing to your own poor.
Why are you helping others when you yourself are not doing anything for your own downtrodden? It is not compassion that you go on helping Ethiopia, India, wherever there is poverty and sickness. It is an effort to make ground for your armies, for your nuclear weapons. All those countries understand perfectly that this is simply business, not help.
America is the most condemned country in the whole world. America has no friends anywhere, for the simple reason that it is the most destructive power today. When your whole government and the energy of the people and the intelligence of your scientists are moving in only one direction – destruction – how can you avoid violence?
There is only one way, which is really difficult. Give the country back to its native people. If they want you to remain here, you can remain here, but you will have to remain on reservations. If you don’t want to live here, that is far better. Just go back to your own countries.
Somebody is from England, somebody is from Spain, somebody is from Portugal, somebody is from France, somebody is from Italy, somebody is from Greece. The whole of Europe has to accept the responsibility to take these people back. Give the country to its own people. If they allow you to live here, you live, but you live under their rule, and violence will disappear. I don’t think red Indians can even imagine about nuclear war.
When you are in power, and you are the greatest power in the world, you are not going to be human, considerate. So it is not a simple phenomenon, it is very complicated, and the violence has many aspects. In America, more rapes happen than anywhere else. Strange. In a country which is educated, rich, why should there be so many rapes? It is because your priests go on talking stupidities to the people. They go on talking about monogamy, they go on saying that if you are not married any sexual relationship is sin.
I wonder how a marriage license transforms a sin into a virtue? Just a license, a piece of paper, signed by a judge who may be committing adultery himself. In fact, sometimes I wonder from where this word adultery comes. It looks so simple – any adult must be capable of it; the moment you are capable of adultery you must be an adult. What other meaning can it have? From where can it come?
American women still are not free. Protests go on happening in the name of liberation, but the woman is not free, not equal. The woman is angry, and her anger is turning into a perversion. The American woman is educated enough. You cannot keep her repressed like the women of the East, of Arabia, who are uneducated, not knowing anything about the world. The American woman is educated. If you want her to be a dependent partner in a marriage, she would rather move into lesbianism than become a slave of man. In America there are more lesbians than in any other country, and naturally, when women become lesbians, men start becoming homosexuals.
These are all different shapes of violence. Your priests are responsible, your politicians are responsible. Do you know what happened in Vietnam? You forced your young people to fight there without understanding the fact that they are not soldiers as they exist in other countries. They were educated, highly qualified, and you forced them to kill innocent, poor Vietnamese for no reason.
Who are you to interfere in the whole world? You want to put your nose in everywhere? It is Vietnam’s decision whether it wants to be communist or not.
And what happened there? Thirty percent of the American soldiers did not kill anybody. They could see that this American violence was absolutely ugly, uncalled for. They could see that the poor Vietnamese have difficulty to arrange even two meals every day and you are bombing them, destroying their houses, burning their houses.
Many American soldiers went insane for the simple reason that they could not believe that this was what their country stands for. Many of the American soldiers had to be treated psychologically when they came back home from Vietnam; they were so much disturbed they had to be rehabilitated psychologically. They were not like other countries’ soldiers – uneducated, unaware of what is going on – who when they come home, come with great pride. The American soldiers came back home with guilt and, you may or may not know, many who were in Vietnam have never moved back into American society. They are hiding in jungles and mountains, in Alaska, living a very primitive life.
Many of them have been approached by their families and friends to come back home. They said, “We are finished with home, country, nation, flag, American Constitution, democracy, all that nonsense. Just leave us alone. We would like to live here in complete isolation. At least we will not feel guilty. We will not be forced to do something violent, unnecessarily. Back home, they’re going to put us back into the army, prepare us again for the third world war. We are not going.”
There are hundreds of young American men who were professors, doctors, engineers, living in the forest like primitive people, in caves. They don’t want to come back to America for the simple reason that this whole society is basically wrong. It is based in violence. Twenty percent of American presidents have been murdered. This is a record! In no other country has this happened. Once in a while a person may be murdered, but not twenty percent of the presidents. And if the president is so much unprotected – remember, the American president is the most protected man in the world – if the most protected man in the world can be killed by his own people, who else can be at ease? Even the president is not at ease. Every moment, violence!
It is not something superficial. If we want to change the violent structure of America, there are three things to be done. One, the country should be ruled by its native people. It belongs to them. Anybody who wants to remain here should remain here, but he cannot remain here as a ruler. Secondly, America should stop bothering about other countries’ poor people. It should help its own poor people. Thirdly, America should stop piling up nuclear weapons. They are pointless, and so costly, so meaningless. You already have enough to destroy the whole world, what more do you want?
America should declare, “We drop the whole idea of war. We destroy all our nuclear weapons. We drown all those weapons in the Pacific, in the Atlantic. We’re finished with it.” America should declare, “We will not have any defense department any more – it is just pointless.”
If America can do that, its people can be immensely rich, happy. And people who are happy do not do violence. It is out of misery, suffering, anger, that violence comes. When you are comfortable, happy, at home, and all that you need is available to you, you don’t want to be violent – because your being violent will destroy your cozy home, your beautiful surroundings, your love life. Your children, your wife, your parents will be lost. It is the people who have nothing to lose who become violent. And one cannot say to them, “Don’t be violent.”
I, personally, cannot say to them, “Don’t be violent.” On what grounds can I say it? They have been cheated of all that a man needs, and if they are revengeful, it seems logical. America should take care of itself. Then unemployment is impossible, everybody can be comfortably rich. You just have to stop piling up nuclear weapons, and you can make this country actually, literally a new world by declaring that you are not going to defend.
Defense is meaningless. Even with all your nuclear weapons you can be destroyed, so what is the point of having all those nuclear weapons? It is a very strange fact that in the past weapons were significant; now they are not, but idiotic politicians go on following past policies of politics. They don’t understand that the whole thing has changed.
Only a nation which is not burdened by the past can become the first nation in the world to declare, “We are no longer a separate entity. We are open and available to the whole world. We declare that we are not enemies to anybody. We declare friendship to be our basic policy, and we are ready to lose everything rather than be violent.”
If these three things can be done, it won’t harm America in any way. It would give America prestige, pride. America would gain sympathy from all over the world. America would become the beginning of the new world. Other nations would follow just as they are following America now. They are starting to make nuclear plants, atomic plants; if America stops it, they will stop it too.
And the whole world now has become free. The British Empire has disappeared. Only America has not been capable of freeing the people who are the real owners of this country. Give it back to them. You have reduced them to such a situation that they cannot even struggle for freedom. They are doped, drugged. They are almost asleep. They cannot fight for freedom, they don’t know what freedom is. And they don’t want it either, because this is going so well: no work, and money is available; no work, and alcohol is available; no work, and all drugs are available. Even those drugs which are prohibited to other people are available to the red Indians, to destroy them, to destroy their spirit.
I say these three things: the land has to go back to the real owners – those who are capable of living here under the red Indians as rulers can remain, otherwise they should go back to their own country; America has to stop all interference with other countries, and put its whole energy into changing the conditions of the poor, of the blacks, of the women; and third, it has to drop the very idea of war, to become the first country in the history of the world to drop war, defense departments, armies, to become a precedent – for others to follow….
I am perfectly convinced that if America can do that, soon other countries would have to follow, would certainly follow, because they are also suffering. Under the pressure of war effort, their whole economies are going down and down. But out of fear they cannot stop creating more weapons.
These simple things just need a little understanding, and America can open a new dimension for the whole of humanity.
Osho, The Last Testament, Vol 1, Ch 20