Friday, August 11, 2017

Curiosity rather than evil

As an historian I find the tapestry of human record, event, and public act to be magnificent.  Sometimes even the most horrible thing is packed with information and truth that you otherwise would not experience.  I've read some of the most horrifying facts on record but, due to my interest, I find it without the punch others experience.

My curiosity needed to be satisfied.  Even should it be murder, famine, or massacre, the truth is not harmful.  And in some cases, it needs to be known to prevent repeating of the events.  It isn't just curiosity though.  I have an insatiable desire to know everything possible.  I get frustrated with my flesh when I am too tired to go further.  Sleep is great, but when I do research I find a zen place of reading solidly.  So, it is a compulsion for who knows what reason.

Someone asked me why I want to read about events that are dark.  I think it isn't the right question.  I had come to be fascinated by the rise of and the fall of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  When my brain wondered why the Nazis didn't work I went to read about 25 books about the history of the Nazis, their organizations, their crimes, and the Holocaust.  After doing so I had no attraction or curiosity about them.  I didn't read this information because I like the darkness, it is because I hate the acts of the Nazis that I had to understand why they did what they did.

Now, as I don't enjoy the darkness if you are aware of what this Kanji says, it is saying I am my own demon.  I believe this.  It isn't me sacrificing to Demons or Satan.  It isn't me practicing evil.  It is, the person who disappoints me the most is me.  I eat things I am not supposed to eat.  I do things I am not supposed to do.  I want things I should not want.  And I lust for things that I should find the strength to fight.

Some people believe any sort of inquiry about a dark subject means you are fantasizing or wanting to do it.  I guarantee that I do not want to be gassed like in Auschwitz or murdered by a madman.  But I am curious what made them do it.   I can listen to a song of Nazi propaganda songs without becoming or even agree with the Nazis.   I do take seriously the Nietzsche quote "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.  And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."  But what I do is not like this at all.  I refuse to be moved by the abyss.

I will say this... it is true that sometimes evil is not recognized for what it is.  If it is beautiful or charming, it can often weasel its way passed your defenses.  Satan was called the Bright Morning Star.   The Portuguese Man O War are beautiful, in their blue translucent bodies.  They can also sting and kill.  A politician is often slick, often of better appearance than others.  But he might well have a dark plan.  Just remember, slavery was legal.  Hitler was elected legally.  And American leaders called for and achieved the Japanese American Internment.  That is, free people who had done nothing illegal were placed in barbed wire enclosures, with machine guns aimed inward.   Because they MIGHT do something.

Beauty is often deceiving.  And when I see it I am often struck, looking very much like the deer in the headlights.  I often say, beautiful women make me stupid.  And it is the truth.  But usually beauty is natural, positive, and hopeful.

So do not focus upon the abyss should you gaze.  But gazing is not always going to end badly.

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