The Most Frightening Thing In The World

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You know what’s the most frightening thing in the world?

I’ll tell you.

It’s the troubling fact that evil is brought into the world by ordinary people who think they are doing good. That’s terrifying because you can’t fix it. Or learn from it. Historically speaking, it’s our attempt to rid the world of a perceived evil that is in fact how evil is brought into the world.

For instance, take the Holocaust. It wasn’t homicidal maniacs with overwhelming hate in their hearts who murdered the Jews in concentration camps. No, no. Rather, it was the church-going, middle-aged, working-class family men. It was ordinary people like you and me who killed tens of thousands of Jews.

These people weren’t evil on an individual basis. They obeyed laws, prayed, loved & provided for their families. It was out of duty to their Fatherland and this misguided notion of obedience to authority figures that caused them to participate in one of mankind’s most atrocious slaughters.

How frightening is that?

Under the Communist experiment in the Soviet Union during the early part of the 20th century, the ordinary bureaucrats, under the false belief of the “common good”, went farm to farm confiscating properties. Families were driven from their homes and forced into the wilderness in below freezing temperatures with absolutely nothing to their name. Millions of people lost their lives in the process. Millions. The officials, working under the notion of the “common good”, truly believed in the virtue of their actions.

In our time, a good example is the “war on terror.” The United States’ unending mission to rid the world of terrorism is also the root cause of the growth of terrorism. This is why since 9/11 terrorism has grown exponentially in spite of the trillions of dollars and many lives spent to destroy it.

How can this be?

Most of the bombs dropped by the US in the Middle East kill innocent civilians.  In their eyes, they endure a 9/11 type catastrophe every single day.  So as we in the US believe we are right in dropping bombs in the Middle East, terrorists believe, on the other hand, that they are right by killing innocent people in the Western world in the name of retribution.

It’s an unwinnable situation on both sides and senseless deaths on both sides will inevitably continue for years to come.

These examples– and there are much more– showcase the extreme dangers of ideologies and the collectivist mayhem that usually spawns from them.

History has undoubtedly shed light on the perils of dividing ourselves into groups to give expression to our ideals. The danger lies in the fact that when we throw ourselves into group identities or hide behind a flag or a cause, it allows us to shed personal responsibility for our actions. “I was just doing my job” and “it’s the policy” becomes our self-justifying chant we use to defend our reprehensible actions.  And we believe it, truly.

Christopher Browning, in his incredible book on “how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews”, writes:

“I fear that we live in a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the powers of government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and increasing, in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly attenuated by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which the peer group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. In such a world, I fear, modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to induce ‘ordinary men’ to become their ‘willing executioners.'”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a historian, and brilliant writer was thrown into a Russian Gulag prison camp in the mid 40’s for criticizing Stalin in personal letters that he’d written. Fortunately, he lived to write about the wickedness under the Soviet Communist experience and all the vile and debauched things he witnessed in the gulag camps. In his most intense and important book called, The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn writes:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an un-uprooted small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

So what is the answer to eliminating the amount of evil in the world?

There might not be one. But I think one of the main things we can do to start tilting in that direction is to strengthen the individual and stay away from the poisonous concept of group identity.  Self-development and a sense of self-ownership are, I believe, the first steps in overcoming the collectivist madness we see today.

We must learn to live well, live our own truth, take responsibility for our own actions or lack of actions, and quit cowering away from our own greatness.

Or as today’s unrivaled thinker and teacher, Dr. Jordan Peterson concludes – it’s the integrity of the individual. That’s the answer to the violent animosity that infects humanity. The integrity of the individual. He writes:

“We need to wake up, individual man and woman alike, and we need to do it now. Each of us must take the world on our shoulders, insofar as we are capable of that, and adopt individual responsibility for the horrors and suffering its existence entails. In that we will find the Meaning without which Life is merely the suffering that breeds, first, resentment and then the desire for vengeance and destruction. We need to take responsibility, instead of incessantly insisting on our rights. We need to become adults, instead of aged children. We need to tell the truth. We need justice and compassion, conjoined; not judgment and pity, which crush and devour.”

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In Our Time

lost-in-crowdIn our time, groupthink triumphs.

Individualism is chipped away.  Everything is politicized even our way of thinking.  Intelligent dialogues are hushed or labeled hate speech. Pointing out biological differences between genders will get you fired from the great companies. Diversity is god.

Victimization and oppression are predicaments sought after rather than circumstances to overcome. Higher education is indentured servitude. Consumption exceeds production. The truth is relative, they say.

The people — mostly weak-minded and deprived of basic cognitive skills — have divided themselves into compatible congregations. In debt and greatly medicated, they flock to groups to deflect responsibility for their own lives. They are envious of the strong, full of resentment towards the great producers of society. And name calling and ridicule are hurled at those who refuse to dance within the narrow confines of their conditioned narratives.

It’s a hell of a time, this postmodernist netherworld we live in.

Dreamlessly

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By Charles Bukowski:

old grey-haired waitresses
in cafes at night
have given it up,
and as i walk down sidewalks of
light and look into windows
of nursing homes
I can see that it is no longer
with them.
I see people sitting on park benches
and i can see by the way they
sit and look
that it is gone.

I see people driving cars
and I see by the way
they drive their cars
that they neither love nor are
loved –
nor do they consider
sex. it is all forgotten
like an old movie.

I see people in department stores and
supermarkets
walking down aisles
buying things
and i can see by the way their clothing
fits them and by the way they walk
and by their faces and their eyes
that they care for nothing
and that nothing cares
for them.

I see a hundred people a day
who have given up
entirely.

if I go to the racetrack
or a sporting event
I can see thousands
that feel for nothing or
no one
and get no feeling
back.

everywhere I see those who
crave nothing but
food, shelter, and
clothing; they concentrate
on that,
dreamlessly

I do not understand why these people do not
vanish
I do not understand why these people do not
expire
why the clouds
do not murder them
or why the dogs
do not murder them
or why the flowers and the children
do not murder them,
I do not understand.

I suppose they are murdered
yet i can’t adjust to the
fact of them
because they are so many.

each day,
each night,
there are more of them
in the subways and
in the buildings and
in the parks

they feel no terror
at not loving
or at not
being loved

so many many many
of my fellow

creatures

Say yes to everything

“There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is- particularly the artist- particularly myself!”
Hermann Hesse

But there was no place to go

“The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn’t understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.”

Charles Bukowski

Everybody Knows

By Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows
And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows
And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows

Christianity and War

Laurence Vance is a prolific writer and author of many books on the subject of Christianity and war. Yesterday he published an interesting book review on Lewrockwell.com on Philip Jenkins new book, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade.  In the article, Vance writes:

One would think that if there is any group of people that would be opposed to war it would be Christians. After all, they claim to worship the Prince of Peace. But such is not the case now, and such was not the case 100 years ago during the Great War that we now call World War I.

I have often pointed out how strange it is that Christians should be so accepting of war. War is the greatest suppressor of civil liberties. War is the greatest creator of widows and orphans. War is the greatest destroyer of religion, morality, and decency. War is the greatest creator of fertile ground for genocides and atrocities. War is the greatest destroyer of families and young lives. War is the greatest creator of famine, disease, and homelessness. War is the health of the state.

Just as it was easy for the state to enlist the support of Christians for the Cold and Vietnam Wars against “godless communism,” so it is easy now for the state to garner Christian support for the War on Terror against “Islamic extremists.” But World War I was a Christian slaughterhouse. It was Christian vs. Christian, Protestant vs. Protestant, Catholic vs. Catholic. And to a lesser extent, it was also Jew vs. Jew and Muslim vs. Muslim.

Although fought by nation states and empires, World War I was in a great sense a religious war. As Baylor historian Philip Jenkins explains in the introduction to his new book The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade:

The First World War was a thoroughly religious event, in the sense that overwhelming Christian nations fought each other in what many viewed as a holy war, a spiritual conflict. Religion is essential to understanding the war, to understanding why people went to war, what they hoped to achieve through war, and why they stayed at war.

Soldiers commonly demonstrated a religious worldview and regularly referred to Christian beliefs and ideas. They resorted frequently to biblical language and to concepts of sacrifice and redemptive suffering.

The war ignited a global religious revolution. . . . The Great War drew the world’s religious map as we know it today..

Not just incidentally but repeatedly and centrally, official statements and propaganda declare that the war is being fought for god’s cause, or for his glory, and such claims pervade the media and organs of popular culture. Moreover, they identify the state and its armed forces as agents or implements of God. Advancing the nation’s cause and interests is indistinguishable from promoting and defending God’s cause or (in a Christian context) of bringing in his kingdom on earth.

We can confidently speak of a powerful and consistent strain of holy war ideology during the Great War years. All the main combatants deployed such language, particularly the monarchies with long traditions of state establishment—the Russians, Germans, British, Austro-Hungarians, and Ottoman Turks—but also those notionally secular republics: France, Italy, and the United States.

Christian leaders treated the war as a spiritual event, in which their nation was playing a messianic role in Europe and the world.

Without appreciating its religious and spiritual aspects, we cannot understand the First World War. More important, though, the world’s modern religious history makes no sense except in the context of that terrible conflict. The war created our reality.

(Read the rest here)