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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Stay Far Away from the Crowd

Can you imagine how beautiful the world could possibly be if people actually were wise enough to think for themselves as unique human beings, rather than kowtowing to the fuckin’ group they identify with?

This goes for politics, nationalism, race, religion, and yes, even a silly flag-waving protest. And counter-protest.

The crowd, my friends, is the gathering place of the weakest. There’s no truth there, no honesty, no integrity. You’ll only find such things in the individual; if, of course, they haven’t sold their soul to the multitudes of like-minded nincompoops.

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.

a lifeless shooter

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There’s no one more dangerous in American society
than an aging man
who has come to realize
that he pissed away his whole bitter life
waiting on politicians to save him
from his own discontent in life.

The shooter. A hollow man with weak ideas.
His brain politicized to the core.
Never became a self-made man,
or created something of value or
even conjured up an original thought
outside of progressive talking points.

He never possessed the courage
to be the man he wanted to be.

His deep-seated bitterness was amplified
over the recent election,
over politics-
that great delusion
that fills the void of the empty.

His discontent became rampant
as he looked to his redeemer—
the state — who, in his eyes,
has utterly failed to penalize the fruitful
at the expense of his failures.

On a midweek summer morning,
with nothing left, he finally took it upon himself,
aiming a gun as pathetically as he lived his life.

Humanity

Somewhere along the way we get tricked.
We fall victim to this conditioned idea
that humanity is divided up into teams.

This being nationality, race,
politics, class and religion.

We join a team,
usually one our parents or communities
have passed down to us.
And we become proud of our team.
We cling desperately to our team’s
philosophies & principles.
Traditions & symbols
become our security.
We hide in them.

And because we are led to believe
that our team is noble, we either ignore
or justify all the evil things our team does
while at the same time demonizing
the other team for their vices.
Even minor ones.

We will strongly deny any truths
that challenge the dignity of our team.

That’s when the essence of our individualism
dissolves like ice cubes in our morning coffee.
We begin to hate the other team.
We deplore their actions, right or wrong.
We want to abolish the other team.
We become bitter as our hearts fill with disdain.

This is the abbreviated story of humanity.
This is why the world is a constant battlefield.
This is why it’s so important to teach our kids
to read poetry, drink beer, travel often, hike mountains,
and most importantly–never ever watch the news.

This will shatter the deadly illusion of teams.

the plague of obedience

The biggest tragedy of the 20th century
wasn’t the World Wars, or Hitlerism, Nazism,
Stalinism or Leninism. Those were just symptoms.
The biggest tragedy was obedience.
Totalitarian regimes can’t exist
if people refuse to seek political solutions
for their problems. Millions wouldn’t
have been slaughtered if soldiers
and police would’ve rejected orders
from their political masters. Obedience,
if you think about it,
is not a virtue at all.
It’s a plague
that has been the root of everything evil
in the last 100 years. What folks didn’t
understand back then, as we don’t today,
is that despotism and power can easily
be crushed if only people refuse
to offer their consent to be governed
by anyone except themselves.
Radical idea, right?

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)