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birth; ethics

Oct 28, 1994 01:33 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins


     Congratulations.  Hope mom is doing well too.  Love to the
     four of you.


L> The only excuse for forgiveness towards Hitler that I've come
> up with so far, is that he was mentally ill. I usually have
> sympathy for mentally ill people, but I still believe that
> psychopathic killers should be locked up where they can't do
> any harm. This psychopath managed to decimate 2 whole ethnic
> groups the Jews & the Gypsies, plus cause a lot of other havoc
> around Europe. It's 50, 60 years ago and I still can't believe
> that one human being can do that to another, even though it's
> still being done today on a smaller scale in various parts of
> the world. How does one handle this constructively?

     If we can give Hitler credit for anything, it is that his
career has given us a lot to think about.  I don't think that
I've ever had an in depth discussion on karma, for instance,
without the subject of the holocaust coming up.  In fact we just
finished a three hour discussion on it tonight (and three more
hours last week) in context with H.P.B.'s teachings concerning
distributive and retributive karma.
     One thing that I read in de Purucker some years ago (but it
didn't come up tonight), was the idea of "men of destiny"--the
Napoleons, Stalins and Hitlers of the world that appear and come
into leadership, carrying out wide spread destruction.  Purucker
argues that these people appear to carry out the collective karma
of the people.  Personally, I find the argument convincing.  Anti
semitism was widespread in Europe, and had been a tradition going
back for centuries.  Considering the over all anti semitic
sentiment of most of the European nations (as opposed to the
higher morality of individuals), I think Hitler was given pretty
much carte blanche to give a "final solution" to the "Jew and
Gypsy problem."  What I'm suggesting is that leaders arise out of
the collective desires and attitudes of the people.  Though
Hitler gave the orders, I feel that the western world as a whole
has a share in the shame of what happened.  I'm also including
the United States.  There is a lot more that I could say on this
point, but I'm sure you know WWII history at least as well as I,
so you can fill in the blanks.
     We've already forgotten the misery brought on by Genghis
Kahn and Julius Caesar; Napoleon, almost so, and Stalin will also
be forgotten soon.  Thanks to the dedicated work of people like
Simon Wiesenthal and others, Hitler will be remembered for a very
long time.  Maybe his memory is what we need in order to finally
create a genuine world peace.
     Hitler is still remembered in France.  They don't need a
Simon Wiesenthal to remind them.  I was over there two or three
years ago and spent a month in Vannes in Brittany.  I remember
seeing photographs in store windows that were taken during the
occupation.  While in Paris, I visited a lovely church (eglise)
in the Latin quarter, one of the most beautiful I had even seen.
But all of those beautiful stained glass windows that you find in
the great cathedrals like in Chartes or Notre Dame de Paris, were
all missing and had been replaced with stained glass windows with
a modern looking regular geometric design.  The originals had
been blown out by German bombs.  There was a sign near the apse
saying that the windows had been replaced by the German people as
a gesture of apology and an offering of friendship.  I felt a
very deep sadness.
     While in Vannes, I attended a language school, and my fellow
students and I used to meet in the afternoons at a Cafe near the
port in the old section (Vannes was a medieval trading port, and
its walls and architecture are still in tact).  The students came
from all over the world.  We had one other American, some from
Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and a German.  While I was
there that summer, Russia was falling apart, Germany was
reuniting and the Russian coup was eminent.  When the subject
drifted to politics (a favorite subject in Europe), and the re-
unity of Germany, I asked our German friend if he believed that
Germany would take this as an opportunity to rise again as a
world military power.  He shook his head in the affirmative.  We
all sat in silence.

L> Come to think of it. I have another ethical question
> concerning the Nazi regime, and other unjust governments (in my
> eyes). When is it ethical not to obey the law? Or is it ever?
> Even if your life is at stake. For instance I have a Jewish
> cusin, who was still a German citizen just before WWII, living
> in New York City, when he got a draft notice to report to the
> German Army. And again, there was a German law that said that
> anyone emigrating could take all his possessions, but only
> $10.- in cash. My people emigrated during the Great Depression
> ... no jobs to be had, especially if you didn't speak English
> very well. What to do. They were inventive. One of my cusins
> hollowed out an old broom's handle, & stuffed money in large
> denominations into it. It got over here with the rest of his
> household goods. One of my uncles built a secet compartment
> into his car to smuggle money into Switzerland. He just missed
> getting summarily shot at the border. But he crossed over
> safely & stored his money away in a Swiss safe deposit box.
> Very illegal, but he & his family lived on that money for
> years, after they emigrated. I understand that illegal acts
> like that were also the rule in Iron curtain countries. I
> suppose wherever laws are so oppressive that people live in
> discomfort & fear. Probably in China too. Well, when is it
> ethical to disobey unjust laws, & who's to decide what's
> unjust?

     Of course, different people reason from different ethical
standpoints, and some from none at all, but I would like to offer
my answer.  I think it is ethical to disobey unjust laws whenever
a higher good is being served.  Those people who operated the
underground railroads almost 150 years ago were clearly acting
illegally, but I think for the greater good.  So were those heros
who worked to save Jewish lives.  Schindler, of course comes to
mind.  Though, I might have an obligation to obey the laws, I
believe that I also have an obligation to break them when a
higher morality is at stake.  Your cousins were working in the
interest of the welfare of their families.  If I had been in
their situation, I hope that I would have acted as bravely.

Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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