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depths of evil? still unplumbed

Yesterday I returned Eichmann in Jerusalem to the library. I had got it out to learn about the banality of evil (the phrase coined by Hannah Arendt, the book's author)--because that seems to me to be what a lot of evil is like--and I did learn some eye-opening things, but not what I expected.

The book is about the trial of Adolf Eichmann for his role in the Holocaust. He doesn't ever *get it* about what he did--just feels sorry for himself as a victim of circumstance. He describes himself as a really decent guy who had great relations with the Jewish leaders... it's pretty mind blowing. And there are all sorts of nuts and bolts about what happened when, about how the Nazi government was structured, about the particulars of laws and people's statuses, and how that affected what happened to them... and it's all so concrete. For me, born almost twenty years after the war ended, it all seemed, in my childhood, like a まぼろし, like a hallucination of horror and evil--but it was real, daily life--for everyone! That's mind blowing, too.

It was also sobering to see how different countries reacted to the Nazis' call to participate in the "final solution." Some participated with no qualms to speak of or were even eager--others threw up roadblocks or practiced noncooperation or even outright refused. Why couldn't we all be like the latter? If we all were, these horrible things would never happen. But they do happen.

Well... I still don't think I know, though, why some people end up not resisting things that are clearly wrong, or even participate in them, and others don't. And, I don't have any sense that one can ever tell... it seems to me that you might turn around and find yourself slipping into some kind of evil before you knew it... so, well, it seems like you have to be pretty vigilant. Live like you're awake and like you care...

But, also, it seems to me that forgiveness is also a good thing... because, it's so easy to slip. Not that I'm being so presumptuous as to say that I or anyone should forgive mass murderers--that's maybe between them and God, or between them and their victims (but I really don't know--I just can't say)--just, for the more workaday evils, and even for the slightly larger evils that still don't rise to mass murder... since we can all fall so easily, perhaps we need to forgive, too...

So difficult to talk about.



Nov. 22nd, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
to increase my spiritual strength

... and also the wisdom to know that the things we believe in, are good things...
Nov. 22nd, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
oh yes
that one too... our understanding can be so limited...



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