Excerpt from “The Edge of Sadness” by Edwin O’Connor:
“We all share in a shattering duality — and by this I don’t mean that soggy, superficial split that one so often sees: the kind of thing, for example, where the gangster sobs uncontrollably at an old Shirley Temple movie. I mean the fundamental schism that Newman referred to when he spoke of man being forever involved in the consequences of some “terrible, aboriginal calamity”; everyday in every man there is a warfare of the parts.”
Although a work of fiction, this thought is a powerful image of our human condition, individually and collectively. What duality? Historically, we boil it down to Good and Evil, driven from original sin of Adam and Eve, and from Satan’s fall from the heavens. How we continue to reach for these archetypes and depict “others” as evil without consciousness of our own religious, cultural, political and nationalist bias is a greater calamity.
Friedrich Nietzsche challenged us to get beyond ourselves with his work, “Beyond Good and Evil.” Unfortunately, part of his views, were co-opted by Adolf Hitler and used in declaring the Aryan Race as superior. A failed artist with an imaginative idealism, armed with philosophical distortions, created one of the greatest atrocities known to mankind.
Trust not the religous scholar, the philosopher, the poet, the educator, the media, the political apparatus and certainly not the politician. How can we continue to fall for this fallacy of thinking.
Each of us have a responsibility to demand intellectual honesty, human dignity and human decency, and nothing less. And when tempted to claiming moral superiority, delve deep first into our own duality of intent. Is our intent truly for good for all humanity? Is this intent based on reasoned and relative morality supported by logical evidence? And if based on a higher spirituality, does the expression of our spirituality generally voiced by our religious traditions and dogmatic beliefs, consistently demonstrate goodness?
In the face of recent tragedies and historical residue of evils being resurrected, we need an epic revolutionary leap in human evolution. Today’s NY times opinion demonstrates our shallow resolve:
For my catholic readers it is all about freedom: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a3.htm