Posts Tagged Jew

The Thrill Of It All

“Won’t you help me Mr. Jesus, won’t you tell me if you can? When you see this world we live in, do you still believe in Man?”

(The Thrill Of It All, Black Sabbath, from the album “Sabotage”)

I have now finished Richard Flanagan’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”, a thoroughly disturbing and unsettling, albeit excellently written and constructed, book. With a grinding hopelessness, Flanagan describes the atrocities and deprivations endured by Australian POWs at the hands of their Japanese captors, while working on the Thai-Burma railway during World War II. Reading about the astonishing acts of cruelty humans appear to be able to direct towards each other, peaking with accounts of the vivisection of American servicemen while still alive and fully conscious, left me depressed and despairing of the entire collective lot of us.

Obviously this is hardly an isolated case. Having a German heritage, I have spent a lifetime grappling with the fact that members of the same nation that read me bedtime stories, sang me whimsical songs, and developed wonderful Christmas traditions also murdered millions of Jews in some of the most horrible ways imaginable.

Unfortunately it is not something we can shrug off and tell ourselves that it was all in the past. There seems to have been a steady progression from Cambodia to Rwanda to present day Syria to remind us that nothing has really changed, and we are just as barbaric now as we always were. And it is not just “other countries” or “other people” who do these things. Every nation on earth has plenty of blood on its hands. Australians managed to kill enough Aborigines to completely exterminate the Tasmanian race.

And then someone turns around, runs into a burning building and pulls out a complete stranger. Is it possible that the capacity for acts of great courage and sacrifice can only exist because of our capacity for great cruelty? Why should this be so? How can both of these attributes exist within one person? And yet, I have read stories of Nazis who were devoted husbands and fathers.

I have certainly experienced enough firsthand examples of humanity’s amazing ability to display kindness and selfless courage to drag me out of the depths of despair, but I do not think I will ever understand our capacity to inflict pain and presumably derive enjoyment from doing so.

Now I am going to try and find something uplifting to read. Unfortunately positivity does not sell very well.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Opiate Of The People

Let us say, just for a moment, that God exists. That leads us to the difficult problem of religion, or rather, religions. Presumably the devotees of each faith believe theirs is the one true religion. In fact they may believe it so fervently that they are prepared to kill or die for that belief. But how can they know that they are right? Best case scenario: all religions are false, except one. Worst case scenario: they are all wrong.

If we assume that one religion is the real one, how do we know which one that is? Presumably Christians believe they are right because the Bible says so. But the Muslims have the Koran and the Jews have the Torah. Surely there cannot be more than one correct holy book? And what of the Christians? There are Catholics, Protestants, Methodists, Anglicans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and who knows how many others. How can they all read the same book, be provided with the same information, but come to conclusions different enough to make them want to start their own unique true religion, and reject the other false ones?

So, here is my dilemma. As a non-religious person how do I know which religion to choose, as I want to choose the right one, and there appears to be a similar lack of evidence supporting all of them? What if I make an honest mistake and choose the wrong one? Do I burn for all eternity? What of people living in the jungles, who haven’t heard of any of these religions? Do they burn solely because of their isolation?

A similar situation exists in medicine. Whenever a disease pops up for which there is no satisfactory cure a huge range of therapies appear, some conventional and some alternative, but all with the same characteristics: a lack of hard evidence proving that they work. Where a disease has a definite cure and there is evidence that the cure works, penicillin in the case of scarlet fever for example, that treatment dominates and the others disappear. I wonder if the same cannot be said of religion. Could there be so many religions because none of them are right?

Dr. F. Bunny

 

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