Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thinking Deeper

I realize the title of this post is grammatically incorrect, as it should actually read, "thinking more deeply."

Sue me. I just liked the sound of the actual title a lot more.

I suppose I've become a bit fatigued at some of the venom of the political blogs over the past few days, and maybe a bit discouraged at the fact that so much hateful talk has entered into what passes for political debate.

I'm especially weary of the vitriol directed towards conservatives with any degree of religious convictions. Some people, it seems, are incredibly threatened by those who believe that certain actions are simply wrong.

It was whilst I was pondering this phenomenon that a quote from a friend of mine (who happens to be a preacher) came to mind. He said, "Can you imagine the result if Hitler had been an evangelist?"

Ponder that awhile.

What could this man, who is regarded as the embodiment of evil (though that personification has been trivialized by leftists flinging insults towards Bush and co.), have accomplished for the good, if he had used his powers of persuasion to inspire people to love one another, to live morally, and to help their fellow man? How many millions would have joined in the effort to make right the wrongs of oppressive governments worldwide? How many people would have been spared the horrors of the numerous wars and conflicts since Hitler's rise to power?

After some time, I came up with the answer. He would have been, at best, another Billy Graham. Someone who has had significant influence, but he wouldn't have inspired so many to such great action had his intention been towards benevolence and love rather than towards hate.

Why do I think his success would have been limited by his message? Do I think the forces of evil are vastly more powerful than the forces of good?

Well, no, but yes.

Here's the problem. Despite Whitney Houston's ode to the contrary, "learning to love yourself" isn't anything that's particularly remarkable. Chrisitanity's most widespread influence is in the form of the "Golden Rule." It's stated a couple of ways, the most common is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The other variation is simply, "love your neighbor as yourself." Seems that Christiandom ascribes to the notion that "loving yourself" is something that comes quite naturally, and the foundational element of a proper relationship with others comes from our learning to extend the same magnitude of love towards our fellow man.

That's harder for us humans to do than it sounds. It demands that our comfort is at the very least, of no greater importance than the comfort of our fellow man. It prescribes a change in mindset from, "what's in it for me?" to the radically different, "how will it benefit my neighbor?"

And that doesn't sell very well in a world fixated upon personal comfort and affluence (as addressed in a previous post).

So I'm afraid the incredibly influential personalities who have done notorious and despicable deeds against humanity would have been severely limited in their scope of influence, had they chosen to promote good things and positive ideals. It's simply not what people want. But as they enjoyed success in promoting self-pride, racism, distrust of others, and genuine hatred, others who follow in their footsteps will find an audience among the masses.

I do hope, however, that we've seen the last of their great "successes."

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