One of my favorite songs is “What a Wonderful World” sang by Louis Armstrong.
” I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you. And I say to myself. What a wonderful world.”
Indeed the beauty of our world is breathtaking! Mr. Armstrong goes on to exclaim, “The colors of the rainbow are so pretty in the skies. And also on the faces of people walking by. I see friends shaking hands saying How do your do? They’re really saying I love you.”
I have recently viewed the over nine hour documentary by Director Claude Lanzmann entitled Shoah. The documentary regarding the Holocaust is truly a religious, cultural, philosophical experience…and not one that you walk away from unchanged.
Mr. Lanzmann covers, “survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders.” The chilling banality of the perpetrators and workmanlike dedication to the systematic destruction of their fellow human beings is like nothing that I have ever seen. Their insistence that they were not only following orders but often their small piece of the much larger job of the annihilation of the Jewish people kept them from realizing the horrible scope of their task.
Bystanders when interviewed for the film insisted that there was nothing that they could have done for the Jews and an overall disregard for their former neighbors and friends. Many of them were living in the homes of former Jewish neighbors who had been first taken to the ghetto and then to the gas chamber.
The juxtaposition of the beauty of the natural surroundings with the horrible desecration of human life was appalling and extremely disconcerting… in the ordinary, non-caring, “As long as it is not me or mine suffering” attitude that is all to present in the film and in today’s society.
The aquiesence to power is a very human characteristic. So often social problems are laid at the feet of a group of people who are demonized by those in leadership positions. De-humanization occurs in religion, in politics, and social structures.
The Stanford Prison Experiment which occurred in 1971 illustrated the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guard and the profound changes that occur quickly in this closed environment. This was an experiment conducted by professor Philip Zimbardo that was supposed to last two weeks but instead was ended by the professor in six days. The college students who participated as guards became increasingly abusive of the college students who were participating as prisoners. The prisoners were by and large passive to the psychological abuse heaped upon them by the authority figures.
Newscasters are saying on a regular basis that what ever contradictions are shown in presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s statements… seemingly do not matter to his followers. The latest of these many inconsistencies being his denial that he was falsifying his identity and acting as if he was a spokesperson for himself during a telephone conversation twenty-five years ago. Although Mr. Trump later admitted that he at times adopted false names in his phone interactions…he denied that the above mentioned instance was him.
Many former political folks who during the primary season expressed serious concerns regarding the presumptive nominees’ judgment and character and maturity to be president…now are saying that they and all republicans must rally around his candidacy. Is blatant misogyny, xenophobia, and open bigotry now acceptable in the name of political expediency?
I have spent my adult life working in and being an admirer of Higher Education. The greatest bedrock precept of education is to develop the ability to critically analyze what someone is saying to you…and to be willing to “speak truth to power.”
If select human life is not of extreme value to their fellow humans…then what is the purpose of the family of man?
“Be wary of any belief or ideology that promotes division between you and your fellow human beings.”-unknown