Sunday, August 03, 2003

The thing with Buddhism is that when contemplating compassion, you always get to the Holocaust sooner or later.

Can a normal, peace loving person really reach a place of understanding and brotherly (or sisterly) love for Dr. Mengele? Should he/she? (Is a phenomenal success in doing so what brought so many nice, peace-loving people the world over to feel compassion for some other dears, Saddam Hussein and his offspring, at the expense of all other Iraqis? (Ooh, quicksand! Get out, Imshin! Get out! Don't mention Iraq or you've had it)).

Bish says there is really no problem, because it's all a question of levels of awareness. Some people will think nothing of eating their best friends (without salt, as we say in Hebrew); some stop short at friends but would happily devour all else, the annoying neighbors downstairs included; others are greatly compassionate towards their own people but feel nothing but aggression for other nations; there are also those who will (and do) eat any non-humans of all shapes and sizes put in front of them; others would rather not eat puppies and little kitties and other cute little furry animals, thank you very much, nor horrible, revolting creepy crawlies, but don't have any qualms about eating animals that don't fit into these categories; and then there are those weirdoes who feel uncomfortable eating lettuce, but hey, they have to eat something (Bish and me belong to this group of nutcases, more or less, but we're not missionary types so you needn't feel threatened).

You see the question is where you draw your line of humane/inhumane behavior, so says Bish.

So it was with the Nazis. Most of us normal folk (??!), when finding our place of abode completely overrun by cockroaches, bring in those nasty exterminators with their offensive smelling spray stuff. Well, as a large percentage of Germans seem to have seen it in the nineteen thirties, Germany was being overrun by Jewish, and other, subhuman vermin. What could they do? They brought in those Nazi exterminators. With their Zyklon B gas. (Imshin, you really are getting pathetic).

Still finding it hard to feel compassion for them? Yeah, me too.

The next step is to start imagining Dr. Mengele as a poor little kid being beaten by his dad. I don't know if this has any historical truth in it, but in those days I imagine most German kids got knocked around quite a bit by their doting parents, as did most kids round the world. For educational reasons, of course. (Hopefully this has improved a tiny bit since???). Not a very beneficial method for creating nice, love-filled, compassionate adults. Of course, not all kids who are beaten to a pulp grow up to do horrific experiments on human subjects. Or take part in the methodical mass murder of millions of human beings for ideological reasons, for that matter. In fact most don’t. The level of awareness explanation is still far stronger, in my mind, than one involving sad, loveless childhoods.

I'm still not much closer to feeling compassion for Dr. Mengele and the "hevr'e" (that would be translated loosely from modern Hebrew slang of fifty years ago or so as "the gang"). Anyway, I have a few compassion issues nearer to home, before I can take on the real biggies.

Oh, by the way, as a vegetarian, I would like to point out that I have read in a few places that, contrary to popular belief, Adolf Hitler was actually not a vegetarian. He apparently had a passion for Bavarian sausages and caviar, not exactly regular vegetarian fare.

[As you can see, things are pretty okay over here, if I'm back to contemplating my Buddhist sensibilities].