Death and destruction has always been fascinating–for observers, not participants. Crucifixion, hanging–especially when accompanied by drawing and quartering, and beheadings of any type have always been crowd pleasers. The brutality of man against man could draw a crowd, amuse it, and leave it calling for more.
In your twentieth century, there was the term “like watching a train wreck.” It’s nigh on impossible for anyone to turn away because a train wreck is factually as well as literally, extraordinary.
I understand that. I may not approve, but I understand it. The observers don’t set out with the intent of seeing carnage, but happen to be there when it does.
On the other hand, when Facebook (which I also do not understand) has to remove 1.5 million–MILLION–videos showing the slaughter of people trying to pray in New Zealand, I’m astounded. Actually, I’m disgusted. A man who lived in a sewer and treated others the way I did is not easily disgusted.
In the millennia from my time to yours, it would be reasonable to expect to see some small amount of societal progress. Instead, people in the twenty-first century can easily put Emperors Tiberius, Nero, and Caligula to shame.
Over the millennia, I’ve seen kingdoms and nations rise and fall. Some nations are created by Divine edict, by military conquest, by discovery, or even the will of the people. However, most tend to die by the same method.
They rot from within.
The wars you’ve seen recently–Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam–were all failed or failing states. They either were already corrupt, or ripe for corruption. That’s not only how nations fall, it’s why nations fall.
Through corrupt means, the elites enrich themselves at the expense of the general populace. As the gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, the people become divided. The division may be political, religious, or philosophical, but most often it’s economic. The wider the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population, the more likely it will devolve into destruction.
Hitler came to power because the German people were economically desperate due to reparations from the First World War. Hitler was an outsider–a non-elite–who was viewed as a possible savior. Lenin was also an outsider viewed as the solution to Russia’s problems. The Nazis and the Communists each set conditions for a division within their country.
Who will be next? There are a number of likely candidates. What’s your guess?
Shakespeare told us “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Then again, there are those who happily discard greatness in favor of personal gain.
Where in this continuum are you?
Where are those you admire?
“I” am powerful. “We” are dangerous.
If someone has an agenda, such as a politician or an actor, the worst way to build a following would be to sit down, one-on-one with another individual and lay out the idea in a logical format. Why? The listener would examine the proposal, critically evaluate its merits and reach a logical conclusion as to its intellectual merit.
On the other hand, if the proponent presents the idea to a group–the larger the better–inevitably there will be some who agree with it. When these people express their support through cheers or chants, more will pick up the emotion and join in. Eventually, few will be silent.
Unfortunately, one of the easiest emotions to stir up in people is irrational hate.
The same people who had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, turned up at his illegal overnight kangaroo court with cries of “Crucify Him!”
In America, there has often been the idea, spoken loudly, that, “The only good [Insert group here] is a dead [and here].”
My advice to you is “Never let go of yourself. The individual is better equipped to make decisions than any group.”
In George Orwell’s novel 1984 he spoke of “groupthink,” in which all, or at least most, of the members of a group accept an idea because the group does, not because they have made a conscious and deliberate decision that it is what they believe. There is another term for this–mob mentality.
Perhaps the idea is best expressed in the movie Men in Black:
Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Everything they’ve ever “known” has been proven to be wrong. A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on it. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.
Andrew McCabe was once a member of the White House Theatrical Troupe–so called because at any given moment many top officials work in an “acting” capacity. McCabe was acting Director of the FBI (and, I might add, never nominated for an Oscar, an Emmy, or even a Tony).
Unfortunately, McCabe neglected to learn the rules. According to the rules, 96.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. In most cases they are unnecessary because “people tell me” or “I’ve heard” is sufficient to substantiate a statement. The rules further state that facts are, fluid, dynamic and always changing. And most importantly, anything with which you disagree is “fake news.”
McCabe, instead, looked to, of all places, the United States Constitution for guidance. In this case, he questioned whether the 25th Amendment should be considered. Using the Constitution is really hitting below the belt. It’s a good thing he got fired before he could invoke any other sections or amendments to the Constitution.
Who does he think he is, anyway–James Madison?
In the last few millennia, I have to admit, I’ve seen a few things that weren’t funny, true, or worthwhile the first time around, but keep repeating:
– Emperors or other leaders making promises they will never keep.
– People being surprised by such broken promises.
– Sycophants who line up to serve the current emperor;
the same sycophants who served the previous emperor, who had a totally different
set of values;
and who will line up before the next emperor, regardless of his values.
– Emperors and their advisors who sit in their towers to determine what is best for
others, without ever consulting with them, and having never experienced their lifestyles or challenges.
It falls upon philosophers and teachers to attempt to warn of such issues; the issues that damage societies and eventually destroy them. Such was the fate of Greece, Rome, the monarchies of Europe, and the explorer nations.
Unfortunately, over the same millennia, none of the rich, the powerful, or the elite have paid the tiniest bit of attention to any of our warnings. I am not surprised, but my greatest desire is that some day I will be–at least once.
While I haven’t actually lived 2300 years, I’ve been sentient–in one form or another–throughout all that time. It has its advantages. For example, I believe I have a better understanding of God than those who’ve only been allotted a lifetime of three-score plus ten years. So here goes:
God – Don’t try to figure Him out–you can’t. Don’t try. Don’t interpret on his behalf. If He we human think we can speak for Him, it would make him crazy.
Scripture – Scripture, regardless of the flavor (Torah, Bible, Q’ran, Words of Bahá’u’lláh, whatever) is a book of lessons. It is not a historical record!
God is not affected by time. That’s why He, when asked His name, replied “I Am!” He probably created time for us pathetic humans (by His standards) to sort things out. To Him, however, the past, present future, and whatever, are all at his–so to say–fingertips.
God’s relationship to man – God has sent many prophets, one of which was a piece of himself, which we perceive as his Son, and who we Jesus. Now the bad news for many who claim to follow Jesus.
- Jesus was a Jew. You know, the Jew–who people love to hate and blame for everything. Hitler wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last (even though his bloodline may have had a bit of Jewish blood in it.
- Jesus was not blond-haired with blue eyes. He was a person of color. People in that part of the world are not, and at His time COULD NOT BE, BY VIRTUE OF HISTORY, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
- Jesus’ earliest followers saw Christianity as the next step for the Jewish faith and the Jewish people. It wasn’t until God knocked Saul off his horse with a lightning bolt (or whatever–God can use whatever he chooses) that anybody realized that Jesus came for everybody.
- Jesus spoke Aramaic. He did not speak Old English as in the King James Version of the Bible.
- Jesus did not instruct his followers to restrict the teachings of scripture to the elect clergy of the Catholic Church.
So where does that lead us?
- There is a God.
- He loves us.
- He has jumped through hoops to try to get our attention
- We keep modifying our image of Him to fit our personal biases and benefits.
- He forgives us.
All in all, that’s pretty awesome. Thank you, God,