12/06/2014 | Share this article: View Comments
Disney's animated version of “Alice in Wonderland” includes the tale of “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” As a child, I memorized the beginning verses, “The sun was shining on the sea/ Shining with all his might./ He did his very best to make/ the billows smooth and bright./ And this was very odd because/ It was the middle of the night.” On the movie screen was the beach and sky landscape, divided in half with the daylight sun beaming brightly on one half, and on the other half, the same beach and sky now dark, with a moon and stars lighting them.
It's a silly beginning to a tale, but it's no less ridiculous than “Let there be light,” as if night and day are separately divided from one another as depicted in the tale/movie. Light and darkness are not absolutes; they are the different degrees between presence or absence of light emissions. Night or day are not like a sheet of black paper placed on a sheet of white paper. And yet, good and evil are likened to the forces of light/virtue/truth, versus the forces of darkness/evil/lies. It is a doctrine of the battle between these two absolutes, which will not end until the world itself ends, at which time the forces of light will absolutely triumph. This doctrine, which can be traced back to the Persian prophet Zarathustra, who lived in the 6th century B.C., persists in this 21st century!
This doctrine of absolutes is a weapon picked up and wielded by Christianity and Islam ever since, and is responsible for untold injustice, persecutions, and deaths throughout the ages. We continually witness the results from those who regard themselves as the Enforcers of Light, such as the Christian Right and ISIS, and the damage they are doing right in front of us, to human rights, society, and conscience.
We don't live in a comic book Universe of absolutes.The “absolute” difference between light and darkness is a lie; there are variations, degrees, nuances and intermingling within night and day, not counting the constant shadows, without which we could not define shapes. Those who will seek to destroy the nuances with their absolute erasure of “darkness“ are anti-realistic about Nature itself, not just human nature.
It's high time this silliness comes to a stop, except in fantasy tales and other entertainments, where it is harmless. We don't live in a comic book Universe of absolutes.
Because of some disturbing and profound feeling I can't quite articulate, I would appreciate input from you, the readers. I watched the movie “The Book Thief” yesterday, which takes place in Germany during Hitler's reign. I sensed a connection between the dogma of absolute good and evil alongside the realities taking place at the time. What brought out a special feeling of unease, though, was the public square bonfire built of a huge pile of banned books. The mayor's speech, denouncing those writings, made a national virtue out of destroying them. I was reminded that totalitarianism means total control over everything, and eradication of everything that is otherwise beyond its control. And that, for over a thousand years, this is what Christianity practiced and would practice again, given the power.
During the movie, I thought of: Leviticus 11:13-19. There it states that a bat is a bird. That same book says that gold and silver rust, that dragons exist, predicts the world will end “soon” (back then), and that a creator of light dwelt in darkness before he created light! These are just as silly as “odd because it was the middle of the night,” and yet believers are taught to take them seriously or suffer now and forever if they don't. I must ask myself if believing without rational evidence for belief results in giving power to others in order to execute the believers’ prejudices, without them taking responsibility. What are your thoughts on this? The word “Dangerous!” keeps flashing before me.