by A. Autino
On the occasion of the recent world congress of astronautics, at the beginning of October 2001 in Toulouse, I reflected on the enormous delay of philosophical elaboration that we discount. The education in spatial subjects is based in fact upon philosophical premises not sufficiently, or not at all deep. Therefore it tends to follow the general cultural setup, rather than proposing a proper, original and decisive, model. In 2002, TDF aims to develop this theme (education and the philosophy of the space age) significantly, therefore we will return to this subject again.But the facts of September 11 and the fact that our society - while we are strutting towards the magnificent and progressive fate of globalization - was still so vulnerable vs. the tribal culture, it makes me think that this philosophical delay is general, and sorrowful.
TDF has developed in 2001, before September 11, research on behaviour induced by the two major religious cultures in the so-called advanced society: Roman Catholics and Protestants. We have drawn some considerations, that can be read online, on TDF. In general our research has confirmed that religion, at least in societies that we know (Catholic and Protestant) is the deepest philosophy, that conditions human behaviour, both of the believers and of the unbelievers, directing them to some dominant values. Religion is therefore very much more, than the definition given some time ago by the atheistic Marxism (the people's opium), in its awkward and brutal attempt to eliminate the religion. Religion embodies the need of spirituality, probably insuppressible - providing that it is interesting to suppress it -, in a sentient and cultural society such as ours. Specifically, as regards the monotheistic religions, such need for spirituality is addressed towards the following dominant values: the prize for success in Protestant societies, the prize for sacrifice in Catholic ones, the being favourite in the eyes of God for Jewish society. And, I would be tempted to say, the prize for martyrdom in the Islamic societies, also with all the cautions, Islam being a society that I know very little of.Now, wrt September 11, and also wrt the pluri-decennial Middle-Eastern conflict, the only words that would come to me spontaneously, to say, to Sharon and to Arafat (to others I don't feel I can say anything), are: "Enough! Be ashamed! You have upset the world! End this delay and endangering of the development of everybody! Conceive some philosophy/religion/political strategy more in tune with the times!"
People can say, it is easy to make lessons when you're not there but I don't know if it is so easy. Surely, the ones who are there should listen more to external points of view, considering that it is very easy, being there, to be prey to ethnic feuds, and to lose objectivity.Besides, the non-Islamic world is not so much more philosophically advanced. Some concepts we would like that they were very much more universally recognized, and instead they aren't. For instance, discussing the struggle and the reasons for it, of Palestinians, the people and various commentators don't generally warn of any discontinuity, any logical jump, among the forms of struggle, between the Intifada - boys in the roads armed only with stones -, the actions of guerrillas against the army or the Israeli authorities, attacks against civilians, school-buses blasted by murderous and/or suicide commandos. At times I wonder if I am the only one to notice the substantial and enormous difference existing between the open face actions of struggle and protest, dealt by people willing a way to live and to be free, and the infanticide, accompanied at times by the suicide, extreme cowardice and unloading of responsibility.
I am intimately convinced that every person is, or has been once, perfectly able to feel the deep disgust for the anti-human actions and as well as they can feel deep emotion for noble actions in defense of the weak and the innocent. All the various currents (both religious or secular) have tried to appropriate such feelings, and to impose their own ideological monopoly on the feelings of the people. The feeling of emotion is thus excited, manipulated and addressed for each ethnic group, nation or religion, whatever their behaviour. The feeling of disgust is as well addressed against the adversary groupings. The fanatical following of each current makes the people blind and deaf, no more able to distinguish between noble behaviours and disgusting ones, to the point that whichever component of the opposite group arouses disgust, including children, who have not been able to complete any action neither noble or ignoble. At this point, for people pervaded with such a blinkered ideology, infanticide becomes morally acceptable.Surely, we new-humanists focus our attention to notice anti-human behaviors. But would it not be logical to expect at least the same from Christian culture, which proclaims the love for the proxy as the supreme principle? Or, would we not expect, in general, the same from monotheist cultures that we pretend to be morally superior?
It is true that in monotheistic religious society technological and cultural progress is more advanced. But it is also true that in our philosophical foundations there are some concepts that, if not diagnosed and historicized, can duly frustrate any progress and can cause collapse and regression of the whole civilization, simply inhibiting equally necessary ethical evolution.The monotheistic religions - or rather Christianity (in its Catholic and Protestant variations), Judaism and the Islam - they share the root of the Sacred Writings, the ancient Will. It is really in such writings that infanticide has dignity, not only as a struggle tool against oppression, but even as a tool of divine justice. The Pharaoh not only slaughters the children of the Hebrews (guilty of being too prolific and to demonstrate by such a weapon his power), but it is the same angel of the God of Abraham that, in a terrible night, passes through houses killing all the Egyptian first-born (the door of whose houses were not marked with blood). Therefore the extermination of the pups of the antagonist ( the law of natural selection that brings thorugh the survival of the strongest) we not only have it in the chromosome, but also, well encoded, in the same root myths of our society. In the writings, the concepts of people, of nation, of predestination and of the being God's favourite are well rooted as well.
It is clear that the God of Israel has no respect for the rights of people that are not his own selected ones. We are therefore discussing a tribal God, that defends his own tribe against others, whatever their "guilt" true or presumed. Such a God promised to Moses the ground and the goods of the Hittites, of the Canaanites, and of another three or four ethnic groups that were wrong to live in the territories (where milk and honey flow) on which God, the father of Abraham and Moses kept an eye.Current ethical thought that reaches us now shows sensibility toward the rights of animals. But how could we be surprised if it keeps on considering the killing of human pups as an admissible form of struggle, only a little bit more extreme? In such logic lies the delirious declarations of Bin Laden, thanking his (biblical) God for having armed the hand of the assassin-suicides of the twin towers (Sodom and Gomorrah?), these don't appear so delirious then: but only actions proportionate to the perceived sufferings. If these are awful, then the killing of thousands of innocents, among whom old men and children, becomes justifiable. And this is not the creed of Islam, that some say is 1400 years behind in comparison to Christianity. No, friends, face the reality: these are the sacred writings of the most advanced societies of the planet!
Though fully sharing the motivations of the American action in Afghanistan, I cannot do less than observe that the Taliban regime was already revealed to be deeply anti-human well before September 11th 2001. The terrible oppression of women, reported many times by humanitarian organizations, the contempt for artistic and cultural patrimony of humanity (the bombed statues of the Buddha), the conditions of intolerable economic and cultural underdevelopment by which the regime subdued the Afghan people. All of this was not enough to shake the indifference of our monotheist morals, insensitive - in fact - to the rights of women, the suffering of the needy and of the oppressed in general. And here the discourse could widen, for instance, to the aberrant practices (e.g. infibulation) to which women are submitted in many African countries, under the tolerant eye of the Christian missions. It is also necessary perhaps to remember that, in our sacred writings, they speak about human sacrifices, of children generally, and that our God (as after all the others gods of that time) sometimes required, and which benignly renounced sometimes, accepting in exchange a kidskin or a heifer. And in the same writings the woman is often introduced as an impure creature, an alternative between animal and man.Obviously I do not mean that the ancient Will does not also contain valid and historically factual teachings. But I definitively appreciate those currents that look for humanist and positive teachings in all the sacred writings and in all the religions, also in the non monotheistic ones, or in those that even don't share the idea of the existence of a God (for instance Buddhism), or in secular or agnostic cultures.
For us, new-humanists, infanticide and the killing and/or torture of innocent people, is never justifiable or admissible. Terrorism is the action of cowards, of people who don't dare to face tyranny (true or suppository), and then they strike the unarmed, who cannot defend themselves.Who kills or oppresses a child or an innocent could have all the rights of this world, but they lose all rights the moment they lift their hand against an innocent. They don't have anymore the dignity of a fighter for liberty. That's why I will never forgive Sharon the massacre of Sabra and Shatila and all the actions of brutal murder, repression and oppression completed in decades of history of that troubled region.
As to Arafat, it has been a long time since he should have completely detached himself from Hamas and from the other terrorist groups, when they started to throw missiles against school-buses. Arafat should have had to distance himself from such murderers, to vindicate with strength the liberty for his people, and to expressly ask for the protection of the U.N. for the people that want to work and to raise their own children in peace. Palestinians? Israeli? Hittite? Canaanite? Should it not be time to stop with such biblical nationalist and ethnic borders, that up till now have brought only mourning, feuds and misfortune to all terrestrials? When I see on television the scene of a slaughter of children, I don't even want to know if it deals with Palestinian or Israeli babies: I see only, a briefcase here, a toy there, the poor things of children that, despite everything, they tried to look at the world with trust. And, with the innocent trust of children, they try to learn what the grown-ups told them. Certainly not death, but why such trust, hawkish gentlemen of Israel and of Hamas, could you not move and reason on your insane and anti-historical choices?If I were in the place of Arafat, if I could not get the protection of the U.N. for the innocent, I would then have left the Israelis alone to build their "pyramids", renewing another biblical tradition: the one of exodus, perhaps the least bloody one, when it doesn't end up going to rummage on others' territory. But is it possible that in the Arabic land - for the greater part desert that nobody doesn't even dream to claim - nobody has a handkerchief of land to offer to the Palestinians? Wouldn't the Arabians, with that, also put themselves in peace with their own hypocritical conscience? Arafat, a disoriented and tired leader, would still be able perhaps to find the necessary imagination to surprise the world in positive.
I admit to not like the contemporary middle-oriental Arabic culture very much. From what I have been able to understand, from some business trips, they seem rich and arrogant people, culturally sitting on their oil wells, as if they have to never end. Waste and absurd luxuries, with little or no interest for science and technology: just a footstep from cities (with buildings built in marble and gold), just a footstep from ten lanes highways, illuminated during the night as bright as day, but crossed more or less by one car per hour, there are villages of Bedouins where the economy is still constituted by camels and goats. And they are regions with very strong insolation: it would be enough for them to invest in research, and they could be among the promoters of the next Renaissance. But I have generally seen Arabs, in their oil industry, to exclusively occupy bureaucratic and powerful positions, certain to be able to buy the technological know-how, that they consider with clear contempt.Well, in the Arabic context, the Palestinians are a white fly: those that I have personally known had education and technical degrees, they were open people, lovers of their jobs and desirous for progress. Perhaps also due to these attitudes they are so unpopular with the rest of the Arabic world, that guiltily feels to always have defended them but only by words. But it would be an unbearable crime if they had to be exterminated, according to the (biblical) project of the Israeli hawks. Instead I am convinced that, if they put their own ethnic traditions to one side a little, Hebrews and Palestinians would have great benefits from a collaboration focussed on the development of those regions.
Dear Sirs, living in that part of the world: it is time to end it, to find a way, do what you want, but finally send us some good news! So that we do not have to listen anymore about car-bombs, bombardments and suicide attacks!As for all of us, I believe that our society is now mature enough for a more humanist and modern message, religion can help - from Latin religere=to unite, in this sense to finally find a way to freely unite the efforts of many free people.
We don't need, obviously, any abjuration: we only need to finally commit to history, the expression of this 1000 year old tribal character of society, and to start to ethically model some more proper principles for our age.
[002.AA.TDF.1/2002 - 12.01.2002]
[English version was revised by Ben Croxford]