Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Regarding my response

A few months ago I received a couple of comments on this blog that I wanted to respond to. It was part of what has been brewing in my silence. I felt one comment, on my ideas about the universe in a nutshell, was dismissive. I would like to take an opportunity to discuss some points in no particular order. Moreover, these points drive home some of the basic questions about humanity I wrestle with.
What do I do with the notion that there is ‘evil’ in the world? People like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, who, for no reason other than their warped world-view, caused the death of millions, massive suffering, and were generally not nice people. Or other people who today I am told, hate me because of my freedom and my lack of adherence to their radical religious views, and who would kill me if they could. So I ask myself, “Is it possible to breed out hate”? Is hate an innate emotion? Would it occur in a vacuum? Hate stems from fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of competition, fear of death. I believe fear is an innate human emotion. “Fight or flight” and the adrenaline that flows from it is one of the traits that kept our species alive. However, the difference between fear and hate… I think hate is a taught trait, but a trait that has been taught to the human race for a very very long time. When generation upon generation, insofar as oral legend or written records can attest, have ‘hated’ another group, is it possible to un-teach that lesson? I’m not sure it is, at least not while each side is generally still engaging in the actions that cause the fear to turn to hatred in the first place. Yes, both sides. Rarely is a conflict one-sided.
We are all products of our environment. Let’s look at Hitler. Why? Because he is the one I know the most about, having studied the Third Reich. Hitler, in his youth, wanted to be an artist. He applied for art school in Vienna and got rejected. And how different would human history be if Hitler had been able to pursue his passion for painting? Would he have become the evil murdering madman we all know him as? While the Nazi party was formed in the early 20’s, the movement began to loose steam by mid-decade. As Germany was living some of the Roaring Twenties and was gaining economic security, the Nazi’s message of who to blame for the struggle fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until the Stock Market crash of 1929 which resulted in Germany’s economy completely collapsing that the Nazi message took off like a hot air balloon, catapulting Hitler to power. So here are two events that if they had, or had not happened, may have changed the course of history. There is one other point I want to make, and then I’m done talking about Hitler. If Hitler had just been some lunatic, digging through trash cans and muttering to himself about the ‘damn Jews’ and reveling in his evilness, would the holocaust have been his end result? No. He had legions of people under him to carry out his commands. He left much of the administrative duties and some of the decision making up to others in leadership. There were many people, including those citizens who went along with the status quo, working of their own free will supporting the policies. One last thing to think about, if the world had not put so many reparations on Germany after WWI, especially when it was the Austrian Empire that had started the war, maybe the country never would have the economic hardships that lead to the rise of such radical ideas.
And just as a general note, the winners write the history books, and those books never mention how many people they killed, or it’s usually just mentioned anecdotally. How convenient.
On a different note, a comment was made regarding the idea that everything cannot be made locally. I would like to say a few things and I will try to keep them short. I did not say EVERYTHING, I said anything that could, and I think a lot could, even cars and refrigerators. It is more a mater of logistics rather than of ability. Once upon a time everything that a community needed was produced locally. But then the big box stores that could mass import goods for less came to town, and instead of going to the mom and pop who have been providing goods on a local level, we go with cheapness and convenience. Slowly the local factories and production slows as jobs are moved overseas, to employ people who work for pennies on our dollar. Eventually those crafts and skills are lost and we forget that we were capable in the first place.
One final comment, I do have peace in my life. But instead of thanking the military and police force I give the thanks to a loving family, a supportive husband, and my own self-esteem.


  1. when I read the blog post title I thought, "uh-oh" this post is about me and some of the comments I've made on here! Because I know I tend to turn everything into a joke and make silly, irrelevant comments about serious emotions and topics and stuff.

    But then I went to the comments on "my ideas about the universe in a nutshell" and them and I understood that you were talking about an anonymous comment, not my comments, and I never make anonymous comments on here

    (or do I? Bwah ha ha ha!!!)

    No, seriously, I really don't.

    And then I read the last part of this post about "a loving family" and I thought, "Awww... how sweet! She's talking about me... I think anyway"

    lol! j/k bbq

    And to talk about the issues you raised today... you already know how I feel about Walmart and McDonald's and the US military and stuff. (I love them all! My favorite thing ever is seeing a soldier in uniform eating a Big Mac inside a McDonald's inside a Wal-Mart) So I'll just say see you later.

    Thanks for writing.

  2. Glad to see you're posting again. When Howard Zinn died last week, I came across this wonderful quote from him:

    To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

    If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

    (Howard Zinn, The Optimism of Uncertainty: The Nation, 9/20/2004)

    I hope you keep writing. I enjoy reading your stuff.

  3. Nice..I too was thinking of Howard Zinn while reading your post. A People's History of the United States.

  4. It's funny, I agree with everything in that Howard Zinn quote... everything. I think it's very nice. But I don't like Howard Zinn very much.

  5. Some bumper stickers say " War is not the answer " But if the question is how to deal with evil I think sometimes War is the only answer. After all there was war in heaven ( good vs evil ) The battle of good vs evil will be fought in every individuals life and sometimes between nations or groups of people. Any way I hope I will be on the side of good.