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Monday, November 06, 2017

Requiescat in pace, redux

How terrible that there are people who hate their lives so much that they hate existence itself and want to destroy it. Recent events keep telling us this thorny piece of news.

We know that we can do something about tightening up licensing paperwork and getting rid of gun features that simply shouldn't be used by hunters or anyone who is not an active soldier. Discussion about such things is already happening.

In addition, though, I see so much hatred and deep scorn for other people online, in Facebook comments and elsewhere, and I believe that the encouragement of tribal divisions and hysteria about the last election results contributes to a cultural climate of intense feelings and hatred. Can't we each do something about that, little by little?

I spent yesterday afternoon with two friends, helping to clean up an historic chapel, and came home to sad news about a Southern church family, so I think that I'll let Saint Paul have the last word. He was a word-wielder and deeply concerned with the health of church families. And it's a good word, whether you are a religious person or an atheist, whether you claim one thing or another, and no matter what you hold highest. It seems simple but is evidently difficult. "Love your neighbor as yourself."


  1. Marly, as I have suggested in my a.m. posting, there must be some way of making sense of contemporary horrors. Your posting helps.

    1. I do believe that there are people who hate life--who would destroy it. We've seen horrid examples lately.

      And, of course, we have seen that many followers of Islam go beyond all theological respect for The People of the Book (includes Jews and Christians) to another place entirely.

  2. But suppose that neighbour (who needn't be next-door, of course) is actively working towards the destruction of things you hold dear and trying to impose rules you find repugnant. Put another way: is there such a thing as a just war? And at what point does an unthinkable war finally morph into something that is obligatory. Never, say many. Bertrand Russell more or less said we should surrender to the Nazis and take the consequences. They would be horrible, he admitted, but not as horrible as those resulting from all-out war. He went to jail for a belief not shared by too many Brits. During and after WW2 the consensus - frequently reluctant - was that it was a just war.

    WW1 was thought to be a just war as it happened, less so afterwards. One ironic observation is that despite the incredible number of deaths in WW1, the methods of killing were more efficient in WW2 and this gruesome fact may have shortened the conflict.

    Whatever the "true" answers to the unanswerable questions above, a war must depend on some form of consensus, which doesn't mean to say this always happens. Without consensus morality (if it exists) goes out of the window and angry dispute continues. But this is why such vigilante assaults, like the one you've pictured, are by definition wrong. The rule of law is ignored and there is no consensus. Ignorance prevails.

    Love thy neighbour as thyself depends on faith in undefined goodness and is thus unlikely to be achieved. I would offer the equally utopian: we should all be better educated in the widest sense. From education proceeds understanding and, if you like, a beneficent pragmatism. It will never happen but it should.

    1. That is utopian, as we have so many who would prefer not to be better educated. But it is a lovely thought. Clearly a great many people protesting at the moment have no education in history, or they would not promote tribalism and hatred.

      And I'm not altogether sure it would be effective. People have made the same sort of argument about education in the arts, and then we find someone like Hitler who was a painter.... Does knowing right and wrong and knowing natural law and human law stop evil and slaughter? I doubt it. Cain will go on slaying Abel, the young man with the perfect sacrifice.

      Yes, there is much that remains unanswerable.

      Jump to the section called Book II Theory Applied, Chapter Three, Scope of Continuation Schools. It speaks closely to this, and it was written right after WW1 ended.

    3. Sarah, thanks for the link! I'm booked for the night but will check it out later.

  3. I'm struck by the fact that when I was growing up decades ago, anyone could have committed mass murder in churches, schools, and other public places, yet (almost) nobody did. The weapons were available, the doors were wide open, and nobody would have seen it coming. However, something prevented angry and unhinged people from doing so, something in the mortar of our society, something we've let dry up and crumble.

    I'm not going to idealize my own childhood, preceded as it was by church bombings and other manifestations of violence, but evil done in the name of a political cause has, at least, a discernible motive, and particular groups or movements bear the blame. What we're dealing with now, unhinged people feeling free to commit nihilistic acts of evil on their way to oblivion, feels to me like a wider social failure for which we all bear some responsibility. I suspect we can only make sense of it if we're open to communicating with, liking, and even trying to love others across growing tribal divides.

    1. Yes, I feel precisely as if something has happened to make striking out in hatred against life, against existence, acceptable and alluring to those who are disappointed and angry. Who hate life, who hate their own lives. And we do see a great outpouring of scorn and hate every day online, and a great rift between peoples.

      "Love one another." Evidently it has become difficult to do. Unless, of course, they are within your tribe and never say anything that offends you.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.