Posted by Adele on August 02, 2000 at 17:11:25:
In Reply to: Re: For all those who ponder...About Charities posted by Elaine on August 02, 2000 at 15:21:41:
: : : :
: : : : : Interesting ... you said there is much about this era that is not talked about. I agree & wonder why that is.
: : : : : Regarding Stalin; could it be that we (of the western world) are uncomfortable acknowledging the depravity of Stalin's Russia because we have our alliance to think of? Did/do we flinch from a graphic account because we see Stalin as the lesser of two evils chosen & therefore prefer to overlook what was occurring during that time frame? Is 20 million Russians killed an accurate figure?
: : : : Elaine,
: : : : This reminds me of an interesting article I once read, talking about the limits to freedom in human actions. It stated that in the case where we are catapulted on by extreme happenings such as WWII, we found that, in order to escape today's devil, we had to align ourselves with tomorrow's. Dilemma's, dilemma's...
: : : : Ilse
: : : Ilse,
: : : That is so true. And it often has brought trouble down the road.
: : : It eliminates the "greater" evil of the moment, and gives succor to the next evil that will have to be dealt with. I can't put forward a better course of action....but then each individual person is a complex swirl of emotions, thought, beliefs, motivations, desires, values and moral codes. No wonder geopolitics is all that magnified in intensity and complexity.
: : : I guess that is why we tend to focus on the leader or central figure...easier to disect an individual and transfer those findings on the entire nation. We tend to forget that not every leader comes to power through popular support and democratic means in the sense countries like England, France, U.S. etc think in terms of. Yes, Hitler came to power as Chancellor through elections, but he did not hold the majority of the vote, he merely held a large block of votes which outweighed the myriad other political parties taken singly. And there is much evidence that his Brownshirts did much to dissuade votes for other candidates, especially socialist ones. Once in power, he consolidated it ruthlessly. Stalin was a minor politico until he had worked his way through the byzantine heirarchy of Soviet leadership through backstabbing, toadying, unholy alliances etc.
: : : Once in power though, these men generate a cult of personality showing one side to the masses, and the truly darker side is shown only to their cohorts and enemies.
: : : There were many in this country in the 30's and 40's who believed the Soviet Union and Leninist/Marxist doctrine was the social and political answer. Our leaders (spoken jointly here of the Allied leaders) were a more cynical and aware group.
: : : They knew Stalin's evil and his ambitions. They used him.
: : : And, in fact, he used us. We sent him aid via shipping through German guns and horrible North Atlantic weather, in the form of tanks, guns, planes, food etc. He refused the landing of it, even while his country bled, until he had gotten future political concessions. And once landed, he painted over the lettering on each and every item to make it seem as if it had come from the beneficence of the Soviet regime. When it got into the hands of the soldiers and people, they had no idea it had come from outside the country in an effort to help defeat
: : : Germany.
: : : One of the reasons the Soviets were driven back so easily was due to Stalin's recent purge of all his "disloyal" officers.
: : : These were capable, experienced senior officers and generals who loved mother Russia. But that was their sin....they loved Russia not Stalin. So they died by the hundreds. As did anybody else thought disloyal or a competitor to Stalin.
: : : Hitler did the very same. He surrounded himself with generals who were toadies or willing to place their loyalty first in him, second to the country. Upon obtaining power and no longer needing the Brownshirts, he purged them mercilessly so they would never be a power to challenge him. He ordained instead the SS as the political watchdogs, the epitome of political soldier, the guadian of both himself and the Party.
: : : I believe it was Ilse(?) who said many in Germany hated Hitler and refused service in the Army. That is true. Most were socialists however. The socialists were the other major party in Germany during those turbulent years leading up to 1933 and 1938. Certainly in Austria there were MANY who hated the idea of unification under the Nazi flag. There were, though, many who welcomed it and lined the roads screaming their support.
: : : Many in German did not like the way their country was developing and the directions taken. They resisted or left. Those who resisted wound up in labor battalions, Gestapo cellars or concentration camps. There were, however, MANY who supported Hitler and absolutely loved him. The stadium at Nuremburg was not filled by holding guns to the head of the local population.
: : : Many, many folks proudly wore the NSDAP pin on their lapel. It is amazing how many of those folks later would state "I never was a Nazi, I was forced to join the party". Look at the newsreels of the time - roads lined be screaming and weeping men and women cheering Hitler on. Sure, that was propaganda, but often true. Early in his game Germans took pride in Hitler and his achievements. They only began to worry a tad when Hitler moved into Poland. When he succeeded there he had their support again and they thought him a bold genius. They believed he would conclude a rapid finish to the war and negotiate a treaty.
: : : Only by 1941 did they begin to really doubt the outcome of his agenda and begin to really become disenchanted...when things had turned against them.
: : : I think, in order for such things to never be repeated, there has to be the acceptance that normal people like you and I can be inflamed to support things we would never rationally accept unless stirred to do so by charismatic men or persuasive Governments feeding our baser elements and saying it is okay. WE all have those baser elements in some form. They can be fanned into flame if the right buttons are pushed. We would all like to believe it could not happen, WE would never do such things. If that were true, the Native American my not still own this continent, but he would not have been exterminated to the extent he was. If that were true, evil men would never have a political platform and public support for their ambitions.
: : : We have to accept our weaknesses and complicity before we can prevent recurrences. Don't we? WE have to always be on guard against those who would tell us our race is more deserving, our religion is the true religion, our group of people deserves special treatment, our leader is the only one with all the answers, our country deserves to dominate another, etc.
: : : Spoken as I have, we all say "Well, of course!" But look around...there is much polarity regarding religion, politics, race, wealth, moral codes right in our own country. As long as we go on thinking as individual groups of folks...we are ripe for being led down a path similar to those things we are talking about. Know what I would like to see? Instead of "Catholic charities", and "Lutheran charities" and Islamic outreach groups.....I would LOVE to see all the religions join together as believers in God and jointly work toward aiding those in need and put aside the dogma for the central thing they all believe in: we are God's children and he is pleased when we treat each other so. We need to stop accenting the differences or past grievances and start emphasising the commonalities we all share.
: : : Somebody is ALWAYS trying to separate us according to political party, religion, race, etc. in some way. Those who do so, do so for their own agendas and purposes. If we feed into the polarities, ANY polarity, we ensure that history repeats itself.
: : : Bill R
: : ~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>
: : One way to avoid polarities and reveal God's love to ANYONE, is to simply start with ones literal neighbors. It doesn't get any simpler than that. MY beleifs boil down to Charity. Charity is love. Love thy neighbor. My neighbors are of many religious and ploitical backgrounds. Who cares?! They are still neighbors and that's where I concentrate my efforts first. I'm not against organized charities. I just think there would be less need of them if more believers would spend time loving their neighbors. Okay, this was inspired by what Bill wrote. Let's see if I can relate it somehow. Organized charities are great. To have them all cooperating in the spirit of shared goals and beliefs would be wonderful. Believers truly loving their neighbors would be Heaven.
: : I hear ya, Bill. I'm agreein' with ya. Just adding my two cents worth, is all.
: : Dana S.
: Dana & Bill -
: As expected, I dissent from this populist movement. (You did expect this, right, Bill?)
: Ah, controversy, controversy ...
: Bill, I agree with your overall sentiments as expressed in the above post. Yes, we do need to keep a watchful eye for many things, not least of which is excessive polarization, particularly along racial lines. However, the emphasis is on the word "excessive." Polarization is a human trait & nothing you or anyone else says will change that. We are naturally drawn to those with whom we share common bonds, be it ethnicity, religion, politics, economic status, etc. People tend to run with those they feel most comfortable with, with those whom seem most familiar in ways, thoughts, & customs. Is there really anything wrong with this? People relate to some over others - rather normal behavior. You see it even within families, right? A particular brother, sister, aunt or what have you, to whom you feel closer because you have, perhaps, more in COMMON.
: This is not to say that one should not interract on many levels with those from other backgrounds and/or points of view. Of course they should; for their own improvement as a person, for the opportunity to open one's mind, & to fulfill the human obligation to be thy brother's keeper. This may be the ultimate key to what you expressed hope for, Bill - really being thy brother's keeper. If we all, or even if most did practice such a philosophy, then we'd assume responsibility for the care & well being of every other human being & we'd never see another Stalin, Mao, Hitler, etc. in action. As simple as this may seem, it hasn't happened because human nature is flawed. Self-interest is a characteristic most can't shake & the dark side is too easily aroused.
: What you have suggested, Bill, is Utopia - which means 'no place.' The perfect society where all are equally good, honest, faithful, charitable, etc. I'm not trying to rain on this parade, nor am I a fatalist. Are you familiar with the 16th century humanist movement? St. Thomas More & Desiderius Erasmus in particular? Both wrote volumes that deal directly with the issues raised by these discussions.
: Taking this a bit further; the society you wish to see is the same theoretical community called for by those who seek a one world government, by those who call themselves communists, & by those who seek to find Nirvana on earth. I'll not hold my breath awaiting such a global community to develop.
: Regarding religion & charities; you're not going to like this, Bill, but I am one of those you might wish to be on guard for. I do believe in a true religion; if I did not, I'd have no need of religion. I'm not going to take this into a discussion on religion itself, but I completely disagree with your warning to beware the man who believes in a true religion. Show me a person who professes a belief in a particular religion, ANY religion, & yet denies it to be true & I'll show you a man with no conviction. What are we to say? That we believe in this system of beliefs but we don't believe it to be true? Religion IS a set of beliefs, behavior, doctrines, attitudes, etc. that expresses or guides one's relationship with a deity or deities - depending upon the individual's particular theological leanings. You wish me to put aside dogma? Never. It is the adherence to such dogma that compels me to behave in the manner you say I should behave in. If I didn't adhere to the doctrines of my faith I would not necessarily care to be charitable, or kind, or virtuous. It is what urges me to strive towards these 'good' characteristics, rather than pursue a course built upon a base nature.
: Having said that, & perhaps unintentionally offending someone, I would add that this does not imply that one should care for or interract only with those of the same faith, nor does it mean one should EVER attempt to coerce another to the same belief. On the contrary, it REQUIRES the professer of such a faith to love thy neighbor no matter what they believe or what they do & to live in a manner that would justify one's beliefs. (Catholic means universal, by the way - for ALL people.)
: Catholic Charities; for the record, the name does not mean this organization assists only Catholics. It is so named because it is an extension of the Catholic Church; an organization whose purpose is to assist those in need ... ALL who are in need. The overwhelming beneficiaries are non-Catholics. And yes, Catholic Charities does work hand in hand with other religious organizations, day in & day out. I assume the same is true of the others you mentioned. On this score, Bill, you have your wish even if they've not purged their religious name. Must they?
: Dana, right. If individuals lived by the rule of charity, beginning with his neighbors, they'd be no need for organized charities.
: Am I a Catholic apologeticist? Yes, I hope so. Does this mean I wish to compel anyone to believe what I believe? No. Or that I concern myself only with fellow Catholics? Not by a long shot. It simply means that I am obliged to know what I believe & must strive everyday to live up to what I say I believe & in so doing, hopefully will be the kind of person Bill said would deter history from repeating itself.
: As you said; "I can't put forward a better course of action....but then each individual
: person is a complex swirl of emotions, thought, beliefs, motivations, desires, values and
: moral codes. No wonder geopolitics is all that magnified in intensity and complexity."
: Absolutely! Rather than suppress that truth, better we should acknowledge it & enhance more positively each aspect you've named. An example; The Catholic Church has a Native American Rite for the celebration of the Mass within American Indian communities. The doctrine is the same; the Mass is still the same- but the celebration is acculturated by language & environment to reflect the culture of the community. Yes, yes to recognizing & focusing on our commonalities, but also to cherishing our differences.
: So, Bill, what I am saying is that rather than purge ourselves of our individual beliefs & mores, we might try living up to them. Your objectives I agree with, your road is where I part.
: Other than that, we agree!!! :)
: Now that I've alienated myself so thoroughly ... great post.
Now, YOURS is a good post Elaine........I have read it three times in an effort to try and take it all in......and now I am trying to collect my thoughts in an effort to post a halfway coherent response!
I am always fascinated by people who are 'true believers' (for want of a better expression). I find it hard to understand the need to attach oneself to a named group, and I also find it hard to separate the 'wrongdoings' of a religion from its achievements. For example, I cannot reconcile the teachings of the Catholic Church with its immense wealth and power, or the fatwas (death sentences) advocated by Islamic leaders. I consider myself a religious person, I believe in God, try to follow a true and honest path, treat others as I would wish to be treated etc etc. I do not feel the need to affiliate myself with anyone other than God and have yet to find someone who can satisfactorily explain that need to me.
In short, I do agree with Bill that, although birds of a feather flock together, we should be working towards bringing down some of those barriers, rather than perpetuating them. When people stay within their own groups, whether they be ethnic, religious or otherwise, it does not always make them stronger, sometimes it just serves to alienate them from the rest of the community, providing ammunition to the more ignorant outsiders. When one sees a demonstration supporting, say, racial equality, do you not feel that the message is far more forceful when the demonstrators are made up of people of all colours? It is as if the combination suggests a majority, rather than minority, cause.
Have I gone off the subject?! Probably! Like you, I hope that MY post will not be considered offensive, for as far as I am concerned, it is the heart of an individual that interests me, not their race, colour or religion.
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