The Horror and the Sublime: Ecce Homo

How can we humans atone for the crimes we have committed? In this article, I write about war and what I consider the counterpart to war, namely, unification.

US Soldiers, World War II

US Soldiers, World War II

We are now in the month of January 2015, The year 2015 is a historical mark of horrible events of the twentieth century. This year marks 40 years after the fall of Saigon to the Communist North Vietnam in 1975. It marks 50 years after the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1965. It marks 60 years after the escalation of the Cold War with the Soviet Union in 1955. And it marks 70 years after the end of World War II.

Especially, January 2015, which is the current month, also marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Holocaust death camp of Auschwitz. How did we come to have such devastation, instead having a peaceful, unified world?

War and Unification

We humans are a unification of separate but equal parts, which are sovereign in their own domain: the stomach, the brain, and the heart. These are metonymies for the volitional part, the mental part, and the emotional part of humans. In the Bible, these three are symbolized by “Adam,” “the Serpent,” and “Eve” (Book of Genesis).

The Hope of Unification

The Hope of Unification

A tenet of the “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective is that every unification will have these three parts. For example, in a democratic government, we have the legislative branch, which plays the role of stomach; we have the executive branch, which plays the role of brain; and we have the judiciary branch, which plays the role of heart.

But since these three parts are separate, equal, and sovereign in their respective domains, they can sometimes fight among themselves. And because they have equal powers, they can create utter destruction among themselves. In other words, wars, when seen from this perspective, can be analyzed as the conflict between the stomach, the brain, and the heart.

The Heart in World War II

What made World War II confusing was that, at first, it was not clear where the heart was. Who was fighting for true liberation? Who were the oppressors? Which side was right?

If you lived in Germany, in Japan, or in Italy—and you heard all those speeches about National Socialism in Germany, Fascism in Italy, or national power and pride in Japan, you might think that the people who made those speeches were “people of heart.” They seemed to be fighting to preserve the nation’s life and freedom. They seemed to be the true heroes, the true patriots.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Ideology is a wolf masquerading as a sheep.

But instead, those people were “people of brain.” They were following a certain ideology. Ideology is a wolf masquerading as a sheep. It talks like heart and pretends to be heart—but in reality, it is nothing but brain run amok. Thus, ideology is false heart.

How can you distinguish true heart from false heart? As in all cases, you apply the standard to distinguish truth from falsehood: you know a tree by its fruits.

What are the fruits, then? The people of false heart seek to destroy their enemies, so that they themselves can live. They seek to protect their lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness at the expense of everyone else.

By contrast, the people of true heart acknowledge that EVERYONE has the unalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. That is where the true heart is. Why, then, did the Nazis exterminate the Jews?

The Jews, the Holocaust, and the Keepers of the Stomach

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

The religion that takes care of the stomach is the Jewish religion. Judaism is all about loyalty, obedience, keeping tradition, perseverance, following the law.These are all virtues of the stomach. What brought about the Holocaust?

Looking at it from the perspective of 70 years of history, we can imagine that the struggle between Hitler and the Jews was inevitable and inescapable. Let us define Hitler as a “heartless, ideological brain,” who was bent on transforming Germany and the world into a “heartless, ideological hell.” Hitler pursued death and domination; and he convinced millions of people to join him in this crazy pursuit. Except for Stalin, Adolph Hitler may be the most lethal ideological brain that ever lived.

In contrast, the Jewish religion is a spirituality of life and liberation. L’chaim! is the most recognizable Jewish exclamation: “To Life!” In spite of any horrible circumstances, the Jews seek life and liberation.

On one hand, then, we had the Nazi culture of death and domination. On the other hand, we had the Jewish culture of life and liberation. Sooner or later the Nazis would attempt to exterminate the Jews, and we saw the horror that ensued.

Ecce Homo — Behold the Human

Brain is a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Brain is a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

As humans, we are both good and evil, because we are capable of both. We can create both the horror and the sublime.

We humans carry within us a brain, which is a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our brain is able to perform sublime acts of good and horrible acts of evil. Within us, we carry a heart, which seeks justice, balance, the Tao, happiness, and joy. And within us we have a stomach, which thrives with life, nourishes life, and multiplies life. The stomach and the heart are our Tree of Life.

But beyond recognizing that we are capable of the sublime and of the horror, we must eschew ideology. If we learn anything from the horrors of World War II, it is that ideology is poison. It paralyzes us; it divides us; it destroys us.

If we are capable of unleashing the horror, we are also capable of creating the sublime. It is true that we cannot change what has been done. But we can atone for it by creating something magnificent and sublime.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
January 2015 – 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Photo Credits:
Photo: World War II; Author: The U.S. Army; Source: http://bit.ly/1KaRQsN; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: The Hope of Unification; Author: Kim Mc.; Source: http://bit.ly/1CPoct1; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo: Auschwitz; Author: Giulio Menna; Source: http://bit.ly/1BzT5j9; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo: Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; Author: Dmitriy October; Source: http://bit.ly/1wEh8Is; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing; Author: dragaroo; Source: http://bit.ly/1z7G1ST; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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