Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Goddamn philosophy

When my house burned down and I failed out of law school, I think the biggest source of pain was not the material losses, but the lack of a sufficient philosophical framework in which to explain what happened.

Karma didn't do it for me - The implication would be, so, my house burned down because of something I did in a past life?

Original sin didn't do for me - like, I'm inherently bad, therefore I deserve the bad things that happen me (fuck off btw whoever came up with this one)

God only challenges the one he loves - that didn't do it for me because, well, it's stupid.

Things happen for a reason didn't do it for me - again, fuck off. I'm convinced you only say this if you've only gone through moderately bad stuff - like, would a woman who has been raped be like, "Oh yeah, I'm sure there was a good reason for that." Please. And again, fuck off whoever invented this.

And so the list of stupidisms goes on. 

Until I found the book, "When bad things happen to good people." Rabbi Harold Kushner is forced to examine all of these philosophies because his son died of a rare disorder, Progeria, and frankly, they didn't work for him either. And, btw, thank you so much to Harold Kushner for questioning the doctrine his entire society and religious community was schooled in. We need more people like him.

But now about this friggin' book I'm writing about the Holocaust. I am still looking for answers to questions regarding "why".    I know, I know ... who isn't?

Unfortunately, "bad things happen to good people" may serve to help me with the small one off shitty ass parts of life - but it so does not help me get the behavior of jillions of people, not limited to the Nazis, who all did their little bit of evil, or indifference, or self-protection, to culminate in the killing of 11 million of their own in less than 10 years.

But seriously - why? And don't give me some mumbo jumbo about pure anti-semitism because while that NO DOUBT played a role, there were MILLIONS of non-Jews that also died. (The estimate is that about 5 million Gypsies, Poles, Russians, Slavs and others died - in addition to 6 million Jews - according to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at U. of Wisconsin). Anti-semitism may describe one of the prejudices that the Nazis held - but that's just it. It only describes one prejudice - they had others.

And, I don't even really think this prejudice alone was enough. Right - I hear you Dear Reader - you're maybe telling me that the economy sucked, too, or that Hitler was power hungry - and those things are true - but, even combined, they do not satisfy me. 

They still don't explain the behavior of the people.


Kristen said...

Check out the Stanley Milgram study. Also, Christiane Amanpour's CNN documentary (which you can watch on youtube) Scream Bloody Murder is worth watching to get some more perspective on genocide. Despite the post-Holocaust motto "never again," massive genocides have occurred several times since, and have been largely ignored both politically, in the media, and historically in terms of people writing about and documenting them.

Decade Four said...

Thanks very much for these references - I will check them out.

While I'm only at the beginning of my searches to understand what leads a society down this road, it seems like the ugly answer about why genocide happens lies within human nature.

I sometimes if that isn't the reason why examination of the subject gets short shrift.

I found this particularly disturbing: