MASTER OF MY SOUL

An eerie silence has descended upon our house. For several days six children, six adults, two dogs and a cat have been compressed into limited living quarters. Chaos has reined supreme. Now the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season been replaced by quiet. We remain alone. They all have left. Already we are feeling a void.

Making plans to entertain so many little people presents a challenge. It is difficult to meet the multiple, and often conflicting, wishes of a children’s group. Parents are forced to make arbitrary decisions for the greater good of all. In turn, children are forced to accept the parental decisions. All they can do is complain that it is not fair. Adolescence introduces a degree of rebellion as the teenager strives to establishing his own values and independence. Teenagers so badly want to be adults. Yet, the very word adulthood carries with it the pernicious illusion that we have more autonomy over our lives than we really have. Sooner or later, if we live long enough, life intrudes and demolishes our most splendid plans. These intrusions might take the form of unexpected illnesses, accidents or what we call acts of God. More often they represent a chain of events set in motion by previous bad decisions. To avoid taking responsibility for such failures we blame bad luck or fate. I tend to blame the devil. She seems to punish me for all the good I have been doing!

Some even suggest that there is no such thing as free will. I disagree. It does seem to exist to a limited degree. However, most of the major decisions in life are probably forged outside of the ream of consciousness. A prime example might be the mental illness known as “being in love.” Rarely do we choose that beautiful state of being on a voluntary basis. It just seems to be an inevitable happening. The same might be said for our choice of career or our choice of friendships. In regard to religion we most often allow the choice to be made by our family of origin. And then never underestimate the power of genetics. Studies of adult identical twins separated at birth show a remarkable similarity in intelligence, behavior and even preferences of a trivial nature.

It might be a blow to ones narcissism to admit that we are not complete masters of our fate, that unconscious factors might control most of our truly important decisions. This is a problem for obsessive people who feel they have the ability to control all of their behavior. Some carry this illusion to extremes and attempt to maintain mastery over the smallest details of their lives. We call them control freaks. When I was doing psychotherapy this group would be offended when I suggested that they had little or no control over the truly important things in their lives. When they vigorously objected, I would challenge them to control their aging process or the health and behavior of their adult children.

Perhaps all of us want to believe that we consciously control most of our lives. The possibility of lack of control is too uncomfortable to accept. Yet, each of us have to acknowledge that certain of our repetitive and unusual behaviors are automatic and emerge from some unknown depths within us. They are also the features that make each of us unique and hopefully interesting.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, Reflections | 1 Comment

WHAT FOOLS THESE MORTALS BE

I just spoke to someone who actually left sunny Southern California to take a midwinter vacation above the Arctic circle. As a psychiatrist I can assure you that she is not certifiably crazy for making such a decision. She is my daughter. Recently she and her family visited a magical, much sought after, tourist location in Sweden. Their Scandinavian destination was The Ice Hotel. This hotel, with all of its accessories, is carved entirely out of blocks of ice. Apparently, multiple artistic sculptures and subtle lighting produce an ethereal and extra worldly effect. Reservations have to be made many months in advance.

Although the hotel, literally, has few combustable materials it is outfitted with a sprinkler system. Why? Building codes in Sweden mandate that all hotels in the county have such a fire preventative system. We might say that this is an example of European bureaucrats gone awry. I have been assured by contractors that many American building codes seem to be equally inane. My relatives, who are building a house at present, are encountering multiple bureaucratic demands that seem to be excessive..

Building codes are only one example of onerous regulations. Legislators seem to have a penchant for enacting laws to protect the public against any possibility of being harmed. Perhaps making endless laws is just a part of their job. Yet, at times, it seems that they believe that the earth won’t rotate without the government rotating it. The all encompassing role of government in controlling our lives was described by Reagan. “If it moves, tax it. If it continues to move regulate it. If it stops moving subsidize it.”

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in regulations. A society cannot function without them. What bothers me is the existence of excessive rules, often with results that are obviously ridiculous. For instance a first grade school boy was accused of being a sex offender for kissing the hand of a girl. Young males are being punished for pointing their finger at someone as if shooting a gun. When making rules for adults, legislators become obsessed with creating a totally safe environment. The nanny state insists that labels are placed upon our foods to assure proper nutrition. Signs are placed to warn of the slightest potential danger. Often the potential dangers are so obvious that only an idiot would not recognize them. For instance, I recently saw a sign on the railroad tracks that really made me laugh. It said, “don’t park on the tracks.” Does one need to be told that parking on railroad tracks is not safe or that standing too close to the edge of a cliff might be precarious? Need a motorist be reminded not to pass on blind curves? Do people require a warning not to wade in the water above Vernal Falls in Yosemite? Yet, despite posted caveats, several people are swept over that cataract each year. Some people just seem intent upon winning the Darwin award (doing a stupid thing that leads to death, thus eliminating them from the gene pool). Despite the benevolent efforts of legislators to create a totally safe world, individual stupidity often triumphs over their best efforts.

I came across a quote from Spencer that seemed relevant to this discussion. “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” If you don’t shield fools, maybe there will be fewer? Or maybe he was trying to say that overprotecting people from making mistakes will cause people not to think for themselves.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Musings, Reflections | Leave a comment

FRIENDSHIP

This morning I had breakfast with an unusual group of men. For more than forty years some of us have been getting together on a regular basis. Most of the participants have doctorates in various disciplines ranging from theology to psychology to the sciences. Occasionally a real estate broker or a male intensive care nurse might join us.

Our meetings have no agenda and our discussions can range from the bawdy to the ridiculous to the sublime. Most importantly, we cause each other to laugh and we nurture each other. In the contemporary argot we engage in male bonding. Over the span of so many years, attrition is inevitable. Only two of the original founders of the group remain and several have become infirmed or gone to their final reward. Two of my best friends have had recent major surgery. Each have suffered a significant post surgical impairment of cognition. Suddenly they appear to be on an accelerated pathway to the way of all flesh. It is painful to see their deterioration. As the poet so eloquently stated, “so fallen, so lost, the light withdrawn which once they wore, the glory from those gray hairs gone forevermore.”

Why Am I telling you this? Perhaps I am talking about loss. My mother, at a very advanced age, often complained that all of her friends had gone. Yet, those friends that have gone are tucked away in my memory. They remain in that depository where they continue to entertain me. I have gotten to the age where my own mortality is a minimal preoccupation. With aging comes a tranquility unknown in midlife. The battles of life are over and we have nothing left to prove. The impediments presented by testosterone toxicity have diminished. No longer have we a need to struggle for dominance. No longer is appearing vulnerable potentially dangerous and unacceptable. Unfortunately establishing new friends becomes more difficult in the aging process. Hopefully this can be ameliorated by strong family ties and continuing contacts with surviving old friends. For senior citizens, keeping socially connected is not a luxury. It is the veritable life blood of our remaining years.

Posted in Commentary, Musings, Reflections | Leave a comment

WHAT OF THE FUTURE?

I am writing these words with a caveat. They are the comments and musings of a very old man. From time immemorial, old men have expressed their fears of the future and tend to believe that the world is going to hell. Perhaps this is just another Jeremiad of such an old curmudgeon.

Recently I participated in a broad ranging discussion with a younger colleague. Toward the end of the program a listener posed a question that I did not understand. In retrospect I believe he was asking our ideas about the future. I will attempt to make a few comments about that subject.
I am moderately pessimistic about what lies ahead. I believe that the present generation will be confronted with challenges of a magnitude that no previous generation has ever faced. Allow me to present several areas of potential threats to world stability.

THE POPULATION BOMB: Demographers predict that the world’s population will continue to grow. Sometime in this century it will level off at approximately ten billion people. Already, significant numbers of humans live on the verge of starvation. Will the world have sufficient resources to feed an additional three billion people? Will wars erupt over agricultural land and the scarcity of food?

AVAILABILITY OF WATER: Significant areas of Asia and Africa are deserts. In many places the deserts are expanding resulting in insufficient supplies of water for agriculture and domestic use. The additional pressures on this resource can only exacerbate with with the growth of population. It is not inconceivable that wars of the future will be fought over water and other vital resources.

CLIMATE CHANGE: The primary source of water in the subcontinent of Asia arises from glaciation in the Himalaya. These glaciers are receding rapidly, posing a potential threat to the the water supply of a large area. At the same time, melting of the Polar ice caps will result in the rise of the oceans. Costal lands will be inundated causing displacement of populations with inevitable social upheaval. Some climatologists also believe that the warming of the planet will result in more episodes of severe weather. Others feel that global warming will damage agriculture, leading to more starvation. These are speculations regarding the future. As we know, predictions are always uncertain. Perhaps, in an era of advanced scientific knowledge, these prognostications can be reversed.

A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS: Already we have witnessed tribal conflicts between various groups. Some of these have persisted over many generations. The strife between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland and the ongoing conflict between Jews and Palestinians illustrate such tensions. Many have existed for long periods of time. Each morning the newspapers tell us of Kurds versus Turks, Shiites versus Sunnis and numerous other inter-ethnic conflicts. However, I believe the greatest potential clash of civilizations will be between the Western European cultural values and those of the Islamic world. I believe we are already seeing the onset of such turbulence in countries such as France.

In summary I believe that this generation is faced with great challenges. Whether these challenges can be surmounted remains to be seen.

Posted in Commentary, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

HAPPY YULE TIDE

I calculated that I have celebrated almost six hundred official holidays during the course of my life. Many were joyous. Others were less so. Even though Christmas time in our family has generally been warm and wonderful, specific recollection about specific Christmas times have blurred into the mists of memory. So when my grand daughter asked whether I have any special Christmas memories I replied in the affirmative. All of those memories occurred during three successive years of my younger life.

I was a good soldier. My parents taught me to be obedient to authority. As a result, I obeyed the military rules, never got drunk and never contracted a venereal disease. As a reward for my efforts I was awarded the good conduct medal for exemplary service to my country. My compliant behavior remained unblemished until my first Christmas in the army. Most of the soldiers in my unit were given a three day leave for the holidays. A small group of us did not. We were regarded as necessary to maintain the barracks routines. Some of us were given a several hour pass to go into town for Christmas eve.

Armed with permission to leave the camp I made my way into town. At that time of my life I did not drink and did not enter bars or taverns. I was at loose ends since I did not know a single soul in the city. The thought of returning to the barracks was not pleasant. On my way toward camp I had to cross the highway. Instead of heading toward the base I put out my thumb to hitchhike a ride. Without difficulty I was picked up. By now a heavy snow storm had descended upon us. Nonetheless I continued upon my journey. After several rides I found myself near home. My mother opened the door and was overwhelmed to see a snow covered apparition. We talked until the wee hours. She wept when I told her I was being sent overseas. After the previous war, her favorite cousin had returned from the trenches an alcoholic wreck of a man. She was frightened I might suffer the same fate. She blamed his ruin on debauchery and those, “French “whoors”, unaware that artillery and high explosives could drive a man crazy.

Thus is my saga of breaking the rules and being AWOL one Christmas eve so long ago. During wartime being AWOL was regarded as a serious offense. However, upon returning to the barracks the next day I was both surprised and relieved that no one had even missed me.

The enlisted soldier rarely is informed of the why or the wherefore of his locations or his actions. Seventy years after the momentous events in which I participated I received some insight as to what was happening. My grandson brought home a small booklet about the battle of the Bulge. It partly explained my Yuletide excursion from France to Luxemburg. The Germans had launched a massive offensive. General Eisenhower was short of troops to oppose the assault. He appealed to General Patton (under whom I served) to send most of the third army to help contain the The German forces. Old Blood and Guts (Patton’s nickname) promised to mobilize his troops and have them on the line within two days. Generals tend to be indifferent to the misery of the soldiers under their command. It was the job of the soldier to do his duty and die if necessary. Physical discomfort was irrelevant. In freezing weather we were loaded into open trucks to head northward toward the battle. After a few hours of rest at the University of Metz we continued onward through one of the coldest winters on record. At night time the trucks disgorged their freezing human cargo onto an open, snow covered field close to the front. The ground was too frozen to pound in the stakes for our pup tents. Each of us had two blankets in our duffle bags and the thin canvas of our pup tents. That Christmas night we had no other option than to sleep in the snow.

For us the war drew to a close one gloomy day near the Czechoslovakian border. Several months later the war in the Pacific also terminated. The war office was confronted with the problems of the demobilizing more than ten millions of men from all parts of the globe. The process was slow. Those that had served the longest, with the most time abroad and with the most hazardous duty would receive priority. I was included in that group.

My personal itinerary to home began in the the quaint Alpine village of Garmish. A number of additional weeks passed in Frankfurt where we were assigned to guard German prisoners of war. One day they loaded us into empty railroad box cars to transfer us to Marseilles. Twenty three days at sea and three more days of rail travel concluded my servitude to Uncle Sam. I took a local bus to within a half mile from home. With my duffel bag on my shoulder I hiked through the snow to my destination. Entering the house I slumped onto a sofa, tired but content.

IT WAS CHRISTMAS EVE!

Posted in Musings, Reflections, Reflections - The Odyssey | 1 Comment

REFLECTED GLORY

According to biblical cosmology, God created a greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night. He also created smaller lights which he called the stars. Perhaps we could analogize this hierarchy of lights to the accomplishments of individuals. Despite popular opinion, we are not all created equal. Due to genetics and possibly other forces, some humans bedazzle us by their accomplishments in their fields of endeavor. They are the super novas of their world. The rest of us mere mortals pale in their presence. No matter how hard we try to emulate their brilliance we are destined to fail. We will never become another Einstein, Shakespeare or Isaac Newton. That is just the way the cookie crumbles.

I readily admit that I am a lower echelon scholar (definitely not hot stuff.) This is also true of most of my friends. As a trained observer of behavior I am interested how some react to meeting a truly bright star. If a world renowned dignitary attends a social function people swarm around the person like bees attracted to honey. This phenomenon seems to have a greater purpose than the gathering of information on the part of the fans. Lower ranking persons seem attracted to alpha males or females. This seems to be a legacy of our evolutionary past. Being near a celebrity enhances the status of the non-celebrity who basks in the reflected glory of being in the presence of fame.

What happens after meeting an important person? Undoubtedly the celebrity becomes the frequent object of conversation. For some it becomes a compulsion to talk about their contacts with the rich and famous. They seem to be compelled to let others know that they had been in the presence of greatness. They are the name droppers of society. I will leave it to my readers to speculate upon the motivation for such behavior.

During the course of my life I have met a number of well known people. I once occupied a urinal stall next to the one being used by a Nobel Laureate. Does rubbing elbows with a luminary bestow any special status upon me?  Am I more important because I urinated in close proximity to a famous man? Although some might think so, I do not!  Yet, at times, the lives of the rich and famous stimulate interesting conversation. They are the grist of the name droppers mill. What would they do without them?

Posted in Commentary, Musings, Philosophy, Reflections | Leave a comment

TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY

Christmas TreeHo! Ho! Ho! as the fat man would say. Our family formally launched the celebration of the holiday season. To accomplish this task we staged a small gathering to decorate the Christmas tree. I assumed the most difficult task in the group. From the comfort of a plush sofa I supervised the whole project. My efforts included sipping fine champagne and munching on excellent hors d’oeuvres while my minions decorated the boughs. Of course, under my superior tutelage the tree turned out beautifully!

Of all of the holidays of the year the yuletide season is the most celebrated of all. It is “The Wonderful Time of the Year” (hear the tune) where families get together to sing and decorate and enjoy special culinary treats. Especially tis year the season has been prolonged, extending from beforeThanksgiving through the New Year. It has embraced a broad mixture of Christian symbols and manifestations from other religions and cultural sources. At present, the mode of celebration tends to be much more dominated by secular practices than by Christian imagery.

Every year a well-watched television station laments an alleged War on Christmas. It is insisted upon that we put Christ back into Christmas because Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, making it very Christian! Of course, a war is not a new phenomenon. The Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas and made it illegal in Massachusets because it had pagan origins. (The superficial reason for the banning was to avoid intoxication and debauchery.)

Getting back to our Christmas tree. I am certain that children participated in the decoration of this nordic pagan symbol throughout history. How could this harmless practice be regarded as evil? Yet, the book of Jeremiah specifically cautions Gods people “to avoid the way of the heathen whose customs are vain.” This caveat specifically refers to cutting a tree out of the forest and decorating it with silver and gold. Perhaps we should we ask forgiveness for a very pleasant evening.

In further examining the details of the yule season we might look at the date which Christmas is celebrated. We do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth. There seems to be general agreement that it probably was not in December. It was not the custom for shepherds to tend their flocks in the field during cold winter nights during the rainy season. The majority of scholars agree that the celebration of the supposed birthday of Christ corresponded with the pagan Roman holiday of Saturnalia. December 25 was also the birth of the Persian god Mithra. These were Important festivities with revelry and debauchery. Much to the disappointment of the church fathers, the pagan world was unwilling to forego them. The genius of the early church was to allow the celebration of pagan holidays by changing them into Christian holy days and renaming them with Christian names. Thus, Saturnalia metamorphosed into the birth of the Christ child. It is probably difficult for traditional Christians to accept the idea that Christmas is deeply rooted in pagan customs and religions. Perhaps acknowledging this idea might be regarded as a war against Christmas. If so, let it be. Meanwhile enjoy the happiness of the season. Eat, drink and be merry. Or as the good book states, “Eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart for God now accepts thy works.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR KIN.

Posted in Commentary, Musings, Philosophy, Religion | Leave a comment

THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE?

As an adolescent my parents immersed me in the old time gospel religion. I’m grateful that memorization of scripture was a part of my indoctrination. To this date I am able to dredge from my memory biblical verses (often contradictory) to confound true believers. Of course, memorizing psalms and commandments was obligatory. I began to be aware that the ten commandments were ideals to strive for and live by. The fact that no one is able to completely follow these demands no longer bothers me.

Recently my brother-in-law posed an ethical question that involved one of the commandments. As a physician, he was asked by the family of a terminal patient to lie about the unfavorable prognosis. This evoked a spirited discussion about telling lies. In a previous blog I suggested that without truth there can be no trust. Without trust the fabric of society becomes frayed. Yet, lying is frequent and studies indicate that everybody does it. The commandment says, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” I always believed that this meant that one should not tell falsehoods. Why would a knowing God demand something of his children that they find very difficult to do? I went back to read the commandment again and found it to be more specific. It is not a blanket condemnation of telling untruths. It only condemns the giving of false testimony against another person.

To single out a specific form of lying suggests that there might be a variety of falsehoods. Some might even have positive moral value. Persons who hid Jews during the nazi regime had to lie about their activity. I believe that everyone would agree that telling a lie to save someone’s life or prevent severe bodily harm to another may be an act of virtue. This is in sharp contrast to malicious falsehoods deliberately designed to be destructive to another person. In my opinion such activity is clearly wrong and merits condemnation.

There are so many ways we distort the truth. Little white lies are usually harmless. Haven’t most of us used these as explanations as to why we could not meet some social obligation? Children blame the dog for eating their homework. Then, there is the grand deception perpetrated upon our children in the form of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Furthermore, to avoid hurting someone we tend to not be candid. Rarely would we tell someone that they are ugly. Flattery might be included as a distortion of the truth. Also when someone is bragging they are usually twisting the facts. As a wise men once said, “The older I get the better I was.” Studies indicate that aging people tend to cast their lives in a more favorable fashion than they really were. I have observed that insecure males often embellish their exploits to impress women. We could mention many other types of lying and the motives for not being truthful. Each of you can create your own list.

During our conversation my brother-in-law made an interesting comment. Since all of us engage in telling little harmless lies, perhaps we should teach our children that white lies can be appropriate but should be used sparingly. Also children need to learn the difference between lies that serve as social facilitators and lies that are destructive and malicious. This seems more realistic than telling them they should always tell the truth. What do you think?

Posted in Commentary, Musings, Politically Incorrect, Reflections | 4 Comments

EUROPEAN LIFE DIED

In my previous blog post I made a number of comments about recent history and the holocaust. I suggested that much effort is being expended to keep the holocaust memories alive versus allowing them to fade into the dust bin of history. Without doubt the attempt to eliminate one of the most productive ethnic groups in western civilization had profound and continuing consequences. These consequences present a powerful argument for the value of remembering. Recently I came across an article that summarizes these sequelae more eloquently than I am able to. I would like to share them with my readers.

“EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ”
By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez

“I walked down the street in Barcelona and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz … We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

“The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned. And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

“They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime. Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

“And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition. We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others.”

Some might regard the comments about Islamic immigrants as too harsh. Yet, statistics of their failure to assimilate, crimes commited, terrorism and social disruption seem to validate the criticism found in the article.

Posted in Commentary, Miscellaneous, Politically Incorrect, Reflections | 3 Comments

SHOA

I just celebrated my eighty ninth birthday. Upon reflection I realized that I have lived through much of the most momentous century in history. I also realized that Abraham Lincoln was right when he stated that the world will little note nor long remember. Almost no one remembers Verdun or the Somme or the Argonne forest. Nor do they recall the slaughter of the youth of Europe in the trenches of Flanders. The epic battles of the second world war (in some of which I participated) have all but faded into the mists of memory. Yet, one historical event of the century stands out with growing interest. Some describe it as the core event of the last century in Europe. At present it greatly overshadows the history of World War Two. At times it seems to have become more relevant than the blood shed in the battles that fueled its origin. They are events inextricably intertwined with the Jewish people and the country of Israel. That event is the Holocaust. And YES, I might have more interest in this distinction since I fought in WW2.

In its immediate aftermath of the war the holocaust was not widely publicized. I do not remember hearing the word until twenty years after the war. What a difference from today. The Library of Congress lists approximately 16,000 books on the subject. America has thirty museums and seventy centers dealing with the subject. Multiple holocaust museums in Europe draw several millions of visitors annually. The UN has passed two resolutions in the past decade directed toward the global memory of the holocaust. There exists an international Association of Holocaust Organizations that has over three hundred institutional members.

An interesting development is that the holocaust is being used as a vehicle for discussion of other atrocities. China is presenting a conference on the topic in Harbin. Parallels will be drawn between the holocaust and Japanese use of germ warfare and doing medical experimentation on humans. Africans draw similarities between the massacre of Jews and their history of enslavement and apartheid. Argentinian pupils regard the holocaust as similar to the atrocities perpetrated by their own murderous dictatorial regime.

As we examine the great and continuing interest in the events that transpired almost seventy years ago, we must ask ourselves the question, why? Why the ongoing interest in the attempted destruction of the Jews? In a blood soaked century why the focus on one group? More than fifty million perished at the hands of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Sixteen million youths died in the carnage of the first world war. An even greater amount of blood was spilled in the subsequent war including the multitudes instantly incinerated into atomic ash. Since then, multiple genocides have been perpetrated upon victims in various parts of the world. Yet, many of these unsung events have been forgotten. They lack advocates to perpetuate their memories. In contrast, no events have gotten more attention than has the holocaust, a tragedy that focuses primarily on one ethnic group.

It is not surprising that the primary developers and promotors of holocaust institutions are members of the Jewish community. It is vital to that community that world never forget the systematic and mechanized slaughter of their people. Almost all of the holocaust institutions focus on the need for tolerance. Because of a very long history of brutal persecution and antisemitism it is vital to emphasize and re-emphasize the evils of bigotry.

As a psychiatrist the question of motivation inevitably emerges. It becomes an automatic routine to ask “why.” Is the burgeoning number of institutions dedicated to the holocaust reflect a mistrust of the Jewish community toward non Jewish groups? The British news magazine, Economist, claims that Israeli politicians routinely campaign upon platforms that see other countries as potential annihilators. An Israeli scholar, Avihu Ronen, claims that all of the dangers to Israel are seen through the prism of Auschwitz. Are these fears based in reality or tinged with a degree of paranoia? Certainly there are threats to the existence of Israel. However, are there continuing threats to the existence of the Jewish People? Can the welfare of the Jews and the welfare of the country of Israel be separated? Is it possible to criticize Israel without being called a bigot?

The very asking of these questions might be labeled as anti-semitic. However, it has always been the goal of these blogs to stimulate dialog about subjects that might be controversial. Many of the questions previously posed I have heard from my readers and others. I believe that the recent high level interest in holocaust memorials makes it a topic worthy of discussion. I also realize that the holocaust is a sensitive and highly emotionally charged subject to the Jewish people. Non-Jews undoubtedly do not experience a similar intensity about those historical events. Many see the holocaust as one of many atrocities that happened years ago. This disparity of views makes discussion of the subject difficult between otherwise well meaning people. I plan to expand my thoughts regarding the holocaust in my next blog.

Posted in Commentary, Musings, Philosophy, Politically Incorrect | Leave a comment