Far from the Madding Crowd

posted in: Thoughts | 0
And, of course, Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes by the extraordinary Jane Elliot. In a class of children, one group is told they are better than the others. The results are terrifying.
There are illustrations of what this Othering looks like on a larger scale. The Rwandan genocide, now thirty years ago. Hutus attacked and slaughtered their neighbours the Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Balkan wars. And Israel/Palestine.
The film is available on YouTube.A friend tipped me off in a response to my post ME AND MY SHADOW about the film The Zone of Interest.
I think it is more essential than ever that we all acknowledge our capacity for evil, and also for good.
For if we do not do this we are susceptible to manipulation by others who can harness our rage, fears and tendency to blind obedience to their own ends.
I had earlier seen a video of a young Israeli soldier telling how she would hold and harass whole Palestinian families at a checkpoint just because she could. And she was bored. She would keep them for an hour, two hours, knowing that probably the same would happen at the next checkpoint.
But also, quite crucially, she would join in this harassment because she was afraid not to be part of the gang of her fellow members of the military. To stand out, or to stand against.
This is how we lose our humanity. In the fear of not belonging with our group, of not having a clear identity, we surrender our moral code, our ability to experience compassion for The Other. And ultimately if we are whipped on by fears of The Other we can become capable of committing terrible atrocities.
The young woman in question said she felt troubled by her behaviour. It haunted her.
Just as war veterans have recurring nightmares of the brutality in which they have engaged.
I believe it is not necessarily intrinsic to being human to acquiesce so easily to cruelty.
However, we must inoculate ourselves against the dangers through self reflection and self awareness. We must learn to know where our pain lies and what we will do anything to avoid.
Once we know our own depths and our own strengths and we no longer need to constantly suppress our more painful emotions, we become sovereign, less easily swayed by attempts at domination by others. Less inclined to blind obedience and ‘just following orders’.
We become more able to express our love and tenderness instead of being addicted to approval. And to participate in the magnificence of being fully human. With greater consciousness we join the vast field of interconnectedness that is our true birthright.
That’s my dream or vision. And, with me, many others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *