I call that other force “the humanity of humanity” but while hoping the same aggregates toward the middle, mild, and moderate one also confronts immense cowardice and lethargy in the face of violent ambition. At one point, for example, an estimated 10,000 al-Shabaab fighters making a mess in Somalia had displaced, in effect, some 1.25 million Somalis to camps in Kenya and to make-do camps around Mogadishu. How is it the same were not organized — governed, self-governing — to stop “The Youth” in their tracks at first appearance? Of course, political anarchy and the individual interests of competing warlords and such then maintained conditions for an AQ-type landing or development.
Each of the societies hosting what I call the “Islamic Small Wars” exists with an incoherence sufficient to keep its destructive miscreants in business — and in business with money supply drawn from combinations of criminal activities (“narcoterrorism”) and rogue but princely largesse.
Ambivalent or difficult injunctive text may be neutral in the manner of a Rorschach — it maintains many things corresponding to the innate character of the reader, and it’s the reader that drives the character of the text into some kind of social reality.
I’m loath to reflect here on commands, demands, and judgments in scripture but may suggest for improved relations and peace that open and far ranging discussion — whatever it is, drag it out into the sun and let’s have a look at it together — may be the best aid in navigating OUR way toward something better.
My old rabbi, a conservative with a lefty past, said he liked Reform Judaism because it “forces you to think”.
Perhaps some of us who read the Torah fresh find that it neither directs nor instructs but more often puzzles and thereby asks that we bring as much as we may to understanding something that we have just experienced through it. In effect, and running on very little familiarity with the five books, my close reading of the Adam and Eve story would suggest it is not about the “loss of innocence” and very far from “original sin”: instead, it’s about the gift and onset of human consciousness, self-consciousness, and conscience. God says to Eve that if she eats of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she will die, and the snake tells her she won’t die — and they have both told the truth!
What Eve does with that bite of the apple is transform.
Not to go on with that exegesis here, the point is the story refuses to dictate its message.
Moreover, if one chooses to do a close-reading crawl through the two well-known sections (Genesis 2 and 3), one may discover many puzzles in the way of comprehension: why, for example, does the snake mention just one tree to Eve when there are two — the other is the Tree of Life — planted in same place? The Church, for another example, may connect the fig leaves with shame, but why not mutual regard, for, when it comes to dressing for success, God sews for his two daring children — whom He is about to dispatch into human life — their first useful and protective clothing?
And so it goes.
The effect on the mind: deep aggravation and perturbation.
Should not God have told us about how we’re supposed to live?
Oh no — that would have been too easy and perhaps too cruel: we are forced instead to think through our way and the way ahead.
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