Friday, September 5, 2008

Ethnic Cleansing or the Fortunes of War?

Well folks this post has been a long time in coming. Due to the nature of the content it has been very difficult to create a balance post. This has been the hardest post to date.

Dan Carlin looks at aspects of this question in several of his Hardcore History podcasts.
One in particular (his first) he compares Hitler with Alexander, and it turns out that the “darling” of the classical era was a blood thirsty genocidal maniac. (We all probably secretly knew that but ignored it)
Indeed one could consider that Hitler was a “light-weight” in comparison, but our current conceptions do not, and should not allow us to view it in that way.
However the Alexander /Hitler method of dealing with things was for most of our history the norm. But by the twentieth century we had progressed, to the point where the Alexanders of this world could no longer be our heroes, and although, as countless tyrants have proved, this behavior has not been eradicated, it can no longer be trumpeted in public, and must be hidden or somehow “justified”.
Is it simply the chronological relationship which affects our judgment or is there something else?
As a member of the Bahá’í Faith, I believe that mankind is evolving spiritually, and hence behaviors which were commonplace only a generation or two ago are no longer acceptable. This is a wide generalization, and in practice varies across the globe, but the overall trend is one of improvement.

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”


For us we must choose how to conduct ourselves, and not in the huge global or national matters, but in our day to day lives, so that if we are ever faced with such horrors we can act in a principled manner. A fine example of such behavior is that of Corrie Ten Boom, and her family who risked their lives to save Jews in occupied Holland, their story is recounted in her book, “The Hiding Place”.
See also:

Abdu'l-Bahá; the oldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith, tells us this about man’s dual nature.

“When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all Creation...
But on the other hand, when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom.... “
(Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912 )

We are also told that:

"All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."

Many would say we are the same people that devastated Buchan, but with a thin pretence of civilisation. We have no problem in accepting that we have advanced technologically since then, so why can we not accept that we have spiritually advanced as well? (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then consider it ethical and moral advancement).

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"


It is clear that we can choose to turn to our spiritual or material natures, but if we take heed of the above quote, attributed to Newton, we can identify countless “spiritual shoulders to stand on”.

This is all very well but what about Robert?

Robert will always, rightly occupy a pre-eminent position in the pantheon of Scottish heroes, because, at its darkest hour, he and “The Flower of Scotland” preserved Scotland as an Independent Nation. Without their victory much of what Scotland has given to the world would not have come to pass. But ironically Scotland greatest contributions came after the “voluntary” union with the “Auld Enemy”.
So whilst recognizing and learning from his greatness we must also understand that the moral standards of his day are no longer relevant, and must be discarded as obsolete. Medieval man believed war to be the natural order, and understood that it was raw and brutal; modern man on the other hand believe it to be only necessary at times and that it can be regulated by moral codes.
But one could paraphrase von Moltke thus: No moral value survives contact with the enemy
Another of his lesser known maxims is, “War is a matter of expedients”, and expedients ultimately lead to the “dark side”.

1 comment:

Aniela said...

What courage and how forwarding thinking is this post! I am anxious to see the consultation this stimulates for the ability to objectively view history with its myriad of lessons will surely keep us from repeating it. It is evident that you have processed the history of "Robert" through and through. . . This reminds me of our oldest son, when at 5 years old, entered the city of Richmond, Virginia only to be greeted by the great (bronzed) generals of the Confederate army gracing the main street. He found this to be very disturbing and wondered what people of colour might be feeling at the onslaught of daily reminders of beknighted oppressors. Jim, please keep these thoughts coming. What a powerful venue you have invited us into.