3 September 2015

Being comfortable with loathing, and bidding farewell to our humanity.

I begin with this quotation from CS Lewis, written in the midst of the Second World War:

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

I have seen another version of this sentiment, this wish that black was blacker, dozen of times over in the last few weeks alone in my own country, from all sides of the political spectrum,  as we gear towards our election.  It goes like this:  A Significant Politician Whom I and My Party Oppose comes out and says something stupid, and we ridicule it as stupid.  Then he says something that is even dumber, and we ridicule it some more. Then he says something evil, and we call it such.  Then he says something that shows that, despite all odds, he still has a warm heart beating within his breast.  Instead of praising him for it, or recognizing that this one time, for that brief minute, he was right, and being happy that perhaps all is not lost, we hunker down and attack him anyway, with something along the lines of: "Oh yeah?  But what about THIS, huhn?  Where is his noble sentiment for THIS?"

We are so inclined to hatred and constant attack that we will attack our enemies even when they agree with us.  We are snuffing out our reason, our logic, our intellect, all our higher faculties, to indulge in the satisfaction of loathing.   We wish to remain comfortable in our hate- for it is nothing less- and to deny our opponent's very humanity.  We wish to forget that there remains a part of them, however small, that occasionally witnesses some small speck of the light of grace.  We insist that that small light, no matter how small, must be extinguished in our own eyes, so we may continue to hate.  In denying them their humanity, we are denying ourselves our own, snuffing out that grace within ourselves, that we may give ourselves over to pure, unadulterated, hate.  

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