Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, April 22, 2004  

Is evil really all that banal?

From Chuck Colson's column about a British documentary entitled, My Foetus:

Black, you see, decided that a woman needs "to be convinced that abortion is a morally legitimate procedure, even after knowing what it involves." So she took viewers on her journey of learning to accept abortion as legitimate. She believed in showing real images and would "engage with the reality" in order to deny that reality and, therefore, dull the consciences of hundreds of thousands of women.

The same technique showed up at a pro-abortion conference this year in the United States , where the conferees watched a partial-birth abortion actually performed. When the operation was over and the baby dead, they applauded. The strategy seems to be to shock our consciences for a moment in order to anesthetize them for a lifetime.

One of the outstanding characteristics of racism (I mean the real practice of it) and psychopathology is the lack of empathy toward others. Arab and Muslim culture reflects that to a high degree. Ask a Palestinian Arab what he feels about Jewish babies blown up, and he shrugs. "I feel nothing," he'll tell you.

The miracle of Homer's Illiad is that it was the first great story to illustrate sympathy for the enemy. The Trojan heroes and King Priam are depicted as worthy of concern, and admirable as characters. This amazing leap of Homer's from the compassion embodied culturally in Hospitality to an extension of respect for an Outsider in general was not only incredible, but laid a foundation for Western culture that we see today.

Not even the Old Testament fostered any sympathy for external enemies. Judaism was tribal.

In the book, Hitler's Willing Executioners, civilized, sensitive, cultured Germans were shown as easily able to kill Jews, Gypsies, and others because they simply refused to acknowledge them as real human beings. When they killed a Jewish baby, they didn't see a baby at all. They saw a little bag of meat.

The people applauding the murder of a human baby similarly manage to control their empathy by calculation, whereas if they were to witness the slaughter of baby seals, their crocodile tears would flood the room.

These people are Satan's willing executioners, and is chilling when you actually encounter them. The desire to want to annihilate them is very strong as Citizen Smash realized prior to interviewing a Communist student in San Diego who supports the murder of his fellows in Iraq. (Smash is a returned vet.)

There is an ageless, biological response when one human encounters another who is, essentially, dangerously insane, to want to flee from them or kill them outright.

Let me explain. You meet someone who seems normal, but as you talk (it could be about anything), you notice that their eyes don't really engage you, and their thoughts seem to disassociate themselves from the context, your actual meeting. It were as if there was a veil just behind their eyes that created a perverse distance from you and the moment.

The other person is thinking, talking, gesturing, and so forth, but you sense that you could just as well be a TV for all the reality that person seems to notice about your presence.

Many have commented on meetings with ideologues, and Eric Hoffer's The True Believer is always trotted out as the great authority on the matter, but it goes far beyond that. It is instinctive when two strangers meet to try and ascertain if the other person is safe to be with. You can watch dogs do the same thing all the time.

Your life depends on whether the other is safe to be near. When you find the other person cannot associate with you in the moment, and doesn't recognize your humanity in a natural way, you know that you have a frightening enemy in front of you.

It is not like war or even two different groups demonstrating against each other and about to clash. It is about meeting someone who is divorced from humanity, and unaware that their thoughts, desires, beliefs, or actions are crazy.

Two lesbian ladies down the street, for example, are decent neighbors, but have accepted their sexual proclivity as so matter of fact as to be insensible to any other possible perspective. Or it is the black school administrator who is convinced that the ignorance, violence, and amorality of her poor black students is entirely as result of white racism. It is inconceivable to her that her own rather easy success contradicts her dogma.

Or the white politician looked me in the face, and asserted that children don't need a mother and a father to thrive.

These are people who are not childish or ignorant, but folks who have settled on a proposition or two which flies in the face of reality and experience.

It is the most frustrating of all things to encounter in others, perhaps, because you are, in fact, trapped with that person in your school, job, community, and country. You can't flee (too far) or kill them. You are forced to live with people whom you mean nothing to, and would surely do you as much harm as possible should they have the power (and they are always trying to get it, and often succeeding).

For instance, a number of black folks set out to destroy my daughter's brilliant high school program purely out of malice, and because they had the power to act on that motive. They practically succeeded. The program is barely surviving, and not at all like it was; nor as beneficial to the whole community now.

Well, where does it end?

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:31 PM |