Green Beret to Peace Activist: William T. Hathaway and His Books
By Daniela Rommel
14 March, 2006
took me years to overcome the warrior indoctrination I got in the Special
Forces. It was very deeply ingrained. What finally brought me out of
it was meditation and my wife's persistent love," says author William
T. Hathaway. "Now I look back and ask, How could I have fallen
for that military nonsense?"
A Special Forces combat veteran,
Hathaway has answered that question in two novels about what attracts
men to war and how they can be healed of the pathology of patriarchal
His first novel, A WORLD
OF HURT, won a Rinehart Foundation Award for its portrayal of the blocked
sexuality and the need for paternal approval that draw men to the military.
"I was trying to uncover
the psychological roots of war, the forces that so persistently drive
our species to slaughter," says Hathaway. "Our culture has
degraded masculinity into a deadly toxin. It's poisoned us all. Men
have to confront this part of themselves before men and women together
can heal it."
He is active in a group offering
support and shelter to soldiers who have refused to be sent to Iraq
and Afghanistan. "The real heroes in the military are the deserters,"
says Hathaway. He wrote the introduction to AMERICA SPEAKS OUT: Collected
Essays from Dissident Writers and has published numerous shorter pieces,
Subversion, Sabotage" in CounterCurrents.
His writing won him a Fulbright
professorship at universities in Germany, where he currently lives.
Hathaway sees spirituality
as an essential component of a more peaceful world. "My military
experience convinced me that to prevent war we need to raise human consciousness.
A look at the history of revolutions shows that switching economic and
political systems isn't enough. The same aggressive personality types
take over and start another army. We have to change the basic unit,
"Many of my leftist
colleagues ignore this because they see the individual as the product
of social and material forces. But I think the human heart is deeper
than that and can be changed.
"I've found Eastern
meditation to be the most effective way to change people. Unlike prayer,
it works on the physiological level, altering the brain waves and metabolism.
It refines the nervous system and expands the awareness so that the
unity of all human beings becomes a living reality, not just an idealistic
"After a while of meditation
people stop wanting to consume things that increase aggression, such
as meat, alcohol, and violent entertainment. They become more peaceful."
novel, SUMMER SNOW, approaches peace from this meditative perspective.
It is set amidst the war on terrorism as an American warrior falls in
love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military
While Special Forces battle
al-Qaeda, the escalating violence threatens their future together and
the lives of thousands in her country. To save them, she shows him an
ancient transcendental way to bring peace to the collective consciousness
and prevent terrorism. But can they make it work in time?
The book's wisdom figure
is a Sufi crone, the warrior's lover's teacher, who has survived by
outsmarting male political and religious hierarchies. "This bin
Laden, this Bush, all these leading men, they have highjacked us all
with their violence," she states. "They have turned the whole
world into their suicide airplane. These men are too primitive to have
such power. Too ignorant of the underlying reality. We must stop them.
We must take the boys' toys away from them...these terrible weapons."
How she does that becomes
the climax of the novel.
The book's theme is that
higher consciousness is more effective than violence and that women
may be more able than men to lead us there.
Hathaway spent a year and
a half in Central Asia researching and writing SUMMER SNOW. The first
chapter is on the publisher's website, http://www.avatarpublication.com/books/?id=13
By overcoming his Special
Forces indoctrination, William T. Hathaway became a defector from the
warrior corps and an opponent of militarism. His books shine light into
our civilization's heart of darkness and show us ways out of the violence.
has taught English, French, and German at colleges in Iowa, Florida,
William T. Hathaway can be
reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org