Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012.07.25 HItler. Another Perspective?

When I traveled in Israel I thought I might get a glimpse of my maternal grandfather’s heritage. I got some flavor for the land and its contentions and troubles as well as its mystique. Jerusalem actually does gleam like scripture says. It sits on a hill 2500 feet above sea level and in the sun looks as if it has a halo.

If I thought the land belonged to me I too might try to take possession. The problem is that too many people think God meant it for them— and God meant it for everyone!

People I guess fight over what they hold most dear and desire most strongly. This land is doomed to be shared.

Janet Flanner who wrote for the New Yorker Magazine is best known for the Letters from Paris column, but she also provided commentary during World War II. She wrote about European politics and culture, published a piece about Hitler's rise to power in 1936, and covered the Nuremburg trials in 1945.

She once said that of all the work she did for the magazine, she was most proud of her 1936 piece on Hitler.

In her profile, titled "Führer," she wrote:
"Being self-taught, his mental processes are mysterious; he is missionary-minded; his thinking is emotional, his conclusions material. He has been studious with strange results: he says he regards liberalism as a form of tyranny, hatred and attack as part of man's civic virtues, and equality of men as immoral and against nature. Since he is a concentrated, introspective dogmatist, he is uninformed by exterior criticism. On the other hand, he is a natural and masterly advertiser, a phenomenal propagandist within his limits, the greatest mob orator in German annals, and one of the most inventive organizers in European history. He believes in intolerance as a pragmatic principle. He accepts violence as a detail of state, he says mercy is not his affair with men, yet he is kind to dumb animals. ... His moods change often, his opinions never. Since the age of twenty, they have been mainly anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-suffrage, and Pan-German. He has a fine library of six thousand volumes, yet he never reads; books would do him no good — his mind is made up."

I can only say three things.  In a book called “For Your Own Good” by psychologist Alice Miller I read that Hitler’s mother was a Jewish housemaid; and 2) As a spiritual practice I must name gross distortions of human goodness, even if I know that’s not all there is.  Hitler was “kind to dumb animals” for god’s sake. Hitler was also a sociopath.  3) The power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians is unjust and oppressive, and the U.S.  is part of the problem.

I never knew my grandfather who died in 1924. Still, maybe some of his relatives, and mine, died at Hitler’s command. What I wonder would he have said or felt?

As a Christian priest I should forgive. I’ve not forgiven the old pervert who abused me when I was eight, unless you count forgetting and healing as forgiveness.

I doubt that Jesus forgave from the cross while gasping and dying, but those who knew him in life knew it would be like him to forgive—and also like him to ask God to do it for him.  I don’t know if anyone forgave Hitler or other perpetrators of arbitrary genocide. 

Some things only Godde can forgive. 

And some forgiveness is a forever process.