At some point in time 12 tribes of nomadic herders had settled down on the banks of Jordan.
Conditions were good so they had enough time to think about things further than meeting their immediate needs.
For me it doesn’t matter much whether their religious teachings were a gift from their God or just a product of their own minds. The fact that they are choke full of useful advice for all of us and that the sharpness of that advice has not been dulled by the passage of time should be enough. We’d better continue to pay attention.
“For this reason was man created alone, to teach thee that whosoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture imputes (guilt) to him as though he had destroyed a complete word, and whosoever preserves a single soul of Israel , Scripture ascribes (merit) to him as thoough he had preserved a complete world. Furthermore, (he was created alone) for the sale of peace among men, that one might not say to his fellow ‘my father was greater than thine’, and the minim might not say ‘there are many ruling powers in Heaven; again to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He: for if a man strikes many coins from one mould, they all resemble one another, but the supreme king of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first one, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obliged to say: the world was created for my sake”
How come, then, that we are still killing each other in an organized manner?
OK, some go bonkers and kill themselves.
Some go so bonkers as to blame others for their unhappiness. They decide to go out with a bang and to kill as many of the ‘others’ as possible in the process.
The number of people going bonkers is naturally swelled by the present economic and social crises. Emile Durkheim, one of the fathers of sociology, had written an entire book on the subject, more than a century ago.
I can dig all this. It’s unacceptable but sort of explainable – aberrant behavior is not un-natural. That’s what evolution is for, to weed out aberrations that are too unfit to survive.
What completely baffles me is how come two and a half millennia after some simple herdsmen have demonstrated such acute but also noble thinking, some of us, most of whom pretend to be sophisticated intellectuals, continue to fashion religious teachings and ethnic/cultural values into wedges.
And use them to drive us into warring factions.
Why are they still doing this?
Why are we still heeding to their prodding?
Not only that we allow ‘them’ to ‘organize’ civil wars that kill hundreds of thousands of us and drive millions of the rest in exile but then we also allow some of ‘them’ to rule over some of the media that, supposedly, keep us informed.
“Unfortunately, some of the celebration was overshadowed by a completely unnecessary “omission” or outright censorship by Hungary’s public broadcaster. Refugee athletes are participating in the Rio Summer Games. Yusra Mardini, originally from Syria, is one of them and she has garnered a great deal of media attention, including in the Toronto Star.
“In the water, Yusra Mardini feels alive. In the water, Yusra Mardini swam for her life. In the water, Yusra Mardini helped to save the lives of many others”–writes Rosie Dimanno in The Star. The 18 year old ended up winning in the one hundred metre butterfly heat on Saturday. Not too long ago, Ms. Mardini had to swim to safety, fleeing her war-torn homeland, through Turkey and then across the waters in Greece. She and her sister swam for over three hours straight and, incredibly, made it to Europe safely. (They also helped save the 20 people that were in the boat they had been towing during those three hours) She trained for the Olympics in Germany.
Disappointingly, during the Hungarian public broadcaster M4′s coverage of the one hundred metre butterfly, they completely and seemingly deliberately neglected to mention Ms. Mardini. Jenő Knézy Jr., who is reporting live from Rio on behalf of the public broadcaster, mentioned four out of the five females competing–the only one he did not utter at all was the name of the Syrian refugee. It was as though she did not even exist– even though viewers could see her on their television screens. Mr. Knézy managed to avoid mentioning her, even after she won.
The hvg.hu news site wondered aloud after the incident: “Is it forbidden to even utter the name of a refugee on Hungarian public television?”
Mr. Knézy claims to have made an innocent mistake, when he forgot to mention the name of the winner of the competition.” (Christopher Adam, Hungary wins gold, breaks record on Olympics Day 1, but why did public television censor the coverage? August 7, 2016, hungarianfreepress.com)
“The Brexit vote may or may not have been a tragedy, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary appears determined to follow with a farce. On Monday, he scheduled a referendum on keeping out refugees for Oct. 2, further threatening to undermine the weakened European Union. The referendum question — “Do you want the European Union to be able to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without parliament’s consent?” — is a textbook example of voter manipulation.
This isn’t really designed to address the EU’s plan to settle 1,294 refugees in Hungary — the country’s share of the 160,000 people that European authorities have proposed resettling from the Middle East. Hungary and Slovakia are already suing the EU over the refugee quotas, and, in theory, Orban could veto any such plan. The referendum will help him prop up his domestic popularity and give him a “democratic” bargaining chip with other EU leaders — even though his strategy will be glaringly obvious because the question is framed in a way that produces only one answer.
Direct democracy’s biggest vulnerability may be that it can be subverted by political players who ask the people loaded, incomprehensible or otherwise rigged questions.”
“Orban has no one to correct him. Earlier this year, Hungary’s Supreme Court approved the referendum question. So now a Hungarian voter has a choice between agreeing with Orban or effectively recognizing that the EU can do whatever it pleases in Hungary without any national authorities having any say. The only other option is not to show up, thus refusing to be manipulated. If enough voters do that, Orban will be made to look a fool. But given the combined popularity of Orban’s party, Fidesz, and the hard-right Jobbik, whose thunder Orban is trying to steal with the vote, there’s a good chance the turnout will be sufficient.” (Leonid Bershidsky, Hungary’s Manipulative Referendum, July 5, 2016, Bloomberg.com.
Going back to Durkheim’ Suicide, there is something there that I find of enormous importance. After studying how suicide rates vary, both in time and across borders and religions, Durkheim has noticed that each suicide act was indeed determined by the individual itself who, in his turn, was influenced by prevailing socio-economic conditions but that there could be noted another very important influence.
The members of the Jewish communities were the least likely to commit suicide, the Catholics came next while the Protestants were the most likely to end their lives, of those belonging to any of these three categories.
Durkheim explained this phenomenon by using the concept of ‘social solidarity’ – for a society to survive its members need to stick together.
Then Durkheim went further and elaborated on the matter. ‘While it is good for a society to develop strong bonds among its members – the Jews have survived for so long and against such odds, these ties must not be allowed to become strong enough to stifle the individuals – otherwise that society would loose its ability to innovate, hence to adapt itself to the inevitable change that befalls upon its head, no matter what.’An equilibrium has to be met between social solidarity – which pushes us to think alike and to align ourselves to the values shared by the entire community – and individual freedom – that which allows each of us to depart, somewhat, from the social norms without being punished by the rest of the society.
I’m going to use, again, the Jews as an example. They have survived, as a people, for so long and against such odds that they must have done something right. Well… they do take care of their own and they do cherish individual autonomy.
After all they are the ones who came up with ‘God created Man in His image’. Hence all men are considered equal – because they have been cast in the same mould – and assigned a spark of ‘something special’.
Jews have done well in this world. Given the circumstances and until some of us have completely lost their minds.
Why don’t the rest of us follow their example?
They don’t kill each-other!
Not physically and not even symbolically.
No matter how much two of them might hate their respective guts, when push comes to shove they’ll help each-other out of the mess.
Why have we, the goyim, ignored for so long such a fine example?
Why do we continue to do so even now, after we’ve found out that the only one Planet we can call home is rather small and that no one seems to be coming, anytime soon, to rescue us from ourselves?
And even if there was anybody who could have done this… would any of you lift a finger to help a bunch of quarreling idiots who are continuously threading on each-others toes? Specially when/if each of us would get their due after their death…
Then why would He?
Why would He help us before we start helping each-other?