One of the nastiest stories on this blog, one about the persecution of the Rohingya in Burma — “Burma – Hanging Children” (January 27, 2014) — has been drawing dozens of hits daily, not exactly “viral” on the web, but I have found the traffic a little startling. Since publication, “Burma – Hanging Children” has drawn upwards of 500 views.
Are the readers hunting the atrocity for a less than forensic peak?
Are they in the market for emotion?
Arousal to anger?
After six years of touring conflict from a desktop — what a way to see the world! — I’m probably not going to get away from it for long: I’ve developed some ideas about contemporary politics, psychology, and religion that may be useful as regards comprehending how some pernicious things work and facilitating their diminishment over time.
Syrians, I’m sure, for example, would rather have had an army responsible to them rather than to Bashar al-Assad or al-Nusra, but not having that army has positioned them between the armed madness of the two representations of secular and religious despotism.
For as long as the constituent-victims of that civil war continue to relate to the features of either fascism — all for Assad / all for Allah — they’re stuck.
Add to that encrustation the ever present “socialism of fools” that is anti-Semitism: there you have a revolution on the outside that wants deeply for another on the inside.
It’s good having a voice, but a voice needs rest now and then.
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“Whosoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whosoever that saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
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Everyone do as Muhammad vs Everyone do as Hillel?
Hillel the Elder revolutionized Judaism and Jewish outlook across a lifetime of decades preceding 0 CE and a for few years afterward. Where Jewish thinking had been exclusive and literal, his arguments in law urged it toward inclusion and adherence to it toward abstract principle and good intention.
“That which is distasteful to thee, do not do to another. That is the whole of Torah. All off the rest is commentary. Now go and study.”
Hillel’s Torah-derived humanism resonates through contemporary liberal humanism and the reformed — and, perhaps, post-Holocaust chastened — Christian world, and it reverberates also through the thought of myriad Islamic Humanists, i.e., those who know that what ISIS in Iraq or Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban in Afghanistan (ad infinitum) are doing is evil.
Muslims know as artists and physicians, businessmen and the full suite of professionals, much including military professionals, that something has gone wrong, and the “cavemen” are making a mess of the legacy of what they would have as their “Religion of Peace”.
Can they, will they, when will they resolve to eject the Muslim Brotherhood from the main base in body and philosophy associated with and developing from out of the religion?
While global military intelligence and related field capability work on the “Islamists” and diplomats do battle on their various fronts, it’s the Ummah overall that must choose between choice in belief and the dignity inherent in the freedom to reason and reflect on God, nature, and the universe independently and the closed, cowed, intimidated, and passive acceptance of obedience before the will of despots, i.e., being told what to think.
While the proudly Islamophobic argue that al-Qaeda’s Islam is Islam and Muslims across the Ummah vociferously argue that that same is not but rather a deep perversion of Islam — if that doesn’t amount to cause in common, what does? — I give a slight nod backward to Hillel as a point of departure into the modern world, for without Hillel’s methodical work in law and generous spirit in faith, I wonder if Jesus-Paul-Constantine or Muhammad would have had at hand — as thought drifting in the atmosphere — a Jewish technology for appropriating into their global outlooks and strategizing to gather unto themselves the wandering, the lookin’-for-somethin’ of their day, and building from that thought immense institutions and new bodies of lore and literature.
Linguist Daniel Everett went to Brazil on the Christian mission: learn a language, translate the Second Testament into it, and spread the word. The mission failed in that respect. Dr. Everett lost his faith, as he notes in the above clip, but, perhaps inadvertently, my encounter with his observations and thought has altered irrevocably my own appreciation of language as a cultural invention and suspension: I believe we are our language and that may include our behavior with language as well as possession of the intellectual machinery of a communicating tool.
BackChannels has long had a page highlighting Daniel Everett’s work, and I mention him and it here in relation to the presence of a humanity in possession of somewhat fewer than 7,000 living languages, each one of them an invention, a place, and a reflection of the mind of a people. As the world loses a few languages across the course of each years, we should wonder about who has just gone missing, what they were dreaming, and whether or not it might have been good to have had some of that talk around after all.
I’ve covered a lot of ground over the years, have done my time with Maslow, and have been loose from institutional constraint and plodding, which is kind of cool — a writer should know freedom — but . . . what have I done, really?
So I feel here is time to retreat a little bit.
It’s not the end of the show.
Let’s call it intermission.
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