The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Remembering The Past

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." [Jorge Santayana]

An important saying, full of truth and heavy in meaning. Yet I wonder if we really understand it. It's easy to remember past events but there are lessons in those events that are more important than the events themselves. A part of that past is the events that led up to the period one is emphasizing. It's not enough to remember the Holocaust but all of the things which led to it happening. The first World War, the treaty of Versailles, the Great Depression, the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party, The Nuremberg Laws, and Kristallnacht. All of these played a part in creating the Holocaust; each one leading to the next and permitting the next.

So, in my opinion, without World War I there would have been no devastated Germany and, without a Great Depression there would have been no need for a Hitler and his party. Without them, there might not have been a Holocaust. But without widespread and deeply rooted anti-Semitism there also might not have been a Holocaust either. The lessons of history are not easy to grasp, they are murky and complex and often misunderstood.

Could such a thing happen again today or in the near future? I would say... perhaps... You see, antisemitism is still pretty rampant. Some might say it happened to Africans caught up in the slave trade of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Like the Jews, they were seen as subhuman and fit only for labor, like beasts of burden. Their holocaust went on for centuries while the Jewish Holocaust lasted a decade (but anti-Semitism has been around for 2000 years). It is the culture of treating our fellow humans as lesser creatures, as unimportant, or as scapegoats that is at the heart of such atrocities.

On Friday, I talked about some biases I have. I described medical practitioners as "arrogant" and "smug" and "superior." I labeled them. I denigrated them. And, even though I believe what I wrote about them, I respect them. I understand that this makes me seem hypocritical. I am, in many ways, very hypocritical. I am human, after all, and humans are easily capable to believing in one thing while acting in a way that belies those beliefs. We have, as humans, the ability to hold two or more contradictory thoughts wand believe them all to be TRUTH.

I have asked readers a number of times to examine their own biases, to accept and understand them, because I believe that is the only way we can control them. I also believe that our biases were (and, perhaps, remain) a part of the primary instinct we all share: the instinct of survival.

And I also think we occasionally fail to remember enough of the past, the events that lead to the horrible events we do not want to repeat, and that is why we often repeat them.


Tom Sightings said...

We're all biased; but some people are a lot more biased than others.

Meanwhile, it's not just you who thinks without WWI there would have been no Hitler. I just started listening to a great podcast about WWI on Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. He points out the same thing; and btw, I recommend it to you if you've got some extra time.

Douglas said...

Tom, I have been told that (about the WWI-Hitler connection) many times by more than a few teachers and professors. There are some who say that it was all one world war with a 20 year cessation of fighting in the middle. I think there were a number of other factors involved that helped create the climate in which the Nazis could rise and produce the Holocaust. If only a few of them were not in play, the world might have been spared WWII.
I think prejudice is a part of the human genome, that it is part of the survival instinct.