[ by Charles Cameron -- for our bizarre humor section, and featuring the word beer-goggled ]
These two headlines from today’s findings struck me as painting a dark picture of the dangers hidden in even the brightest of kitchens these days:
I’ll have to admit that I was torn, though — that penis and toaster headline cried out to be paired with another — illustrate illustrating between them the follies prevalent in my country of origin, and the necessity of parental guidance for its denizens:
[ by Charles Cameron -- i don't do much in the way of cat pics, so here's a timely geopolitical unicorn for you ]
What with the Whole Wired World looking a bit both “1984″ and “Brave New” this week, and with Turkey clearly itching to up its rep as an authoritarian state, you might not think this would be the week a Turkish customs official would stamp a unicorn’s passport…
What can I tell you? Someone did. A Turkish customs official allowed this young British girl, Emily Harris, into Turkey by stamping her unicorn’s passport.
If I was Recep Tayyip Erdogan — and I’m not, and unlikely yo be any time soon — I might want to give that man a medal for providing the one news item this week favorable to the Turkish tourist trade — at a time when images of tear gassings in hotels and water cannonades in parks can hardly be helping the country’s image as an attractive place to visit.
Seriously — Public Diplomacy, one child’s passport at a time.
And while you’re at it, quit gassing hotels with children in them, will you? It’s barbaric.
[ by Charles Cameron -- human beings are a whole lot more interesting than was previously thought, evidence suggests ]
First, you should know that the English Defence League is, by its own account, “an inclusive movement dedicated to peacefully protesting against Islamic extremism.”
Now read on..
Or as Qur’an 49.13 puts it:
O mankind, We have created you male and female, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another.
The Gospel suggests, Matthew 5.44:
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
and I am put in mind of this pair of images, both of which feature people I learned about for the first time in just the last couple of days:
Rev. Will D Campbell is the one shaking hands with Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy after the MLK assassination, in the top panel of the DoubleQuote above. He was a rare man — as the NYT puts is, “one of the few white clerics with an extensive field record as a civil rights activist” — which naturally reminds me, too, of my own mentor, Fr. Trevor Huddleston.
C.P. Ellis was a Ku Klux Klan leader until he met civil rights worker Ann Atwater, with whom he is pictured immediately below Abernathy and Campbell.
Wait, there’s more –
The first pair of images, above, comes from the UK, and the second pair from the US. So what’s the difference?
Apparently, the Brits serve tea while the Americans sip whiskey…
Abernathy’s reverend friend is the gentleman described in the lower panel here, the one who drinks whiskey with Klansmen. Go figure: love trumps hate.
To get the full charge of these various stories, you might want to read:
[ by Charles Cameron -- thinking more in terms of challenge than of threat, and skipping via Chicago Law, Everest, and Handel's Messiah to a Venn diagram of the workings of conscience ]
Well, I don’t always read the Chicago Law Review cover to cover, or even at all to be honest — but I confess I did like this opening paragraph from George Loewenstein† & Ted O’Donoghue†† (love those daggers after your names, guys):
If you ever have the misfortune to be interrogated, and the experience resembles its depiction in movies, it is likely that your interrogator will inform you that “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” The interrogator is telling you, with an economy of words, that you are going to spill the beans; the only question is whether you will also get tortured — which is the hard way. In this Essay, we argue that much consumption follows a similar pattern, except that the torturer is oneself.
Here’s the easy vs hard contrast I was thinking about as I googled my way to the Law Review — as you’ll see, it has nothing to do with interrogation:
It was the final obstacle, the 40 feet of technical climbing up a near vertical rock face that pushed Sir Edmund Hillary to the limit. Once climbed, the way to the summit of Mount Everest lay open.
Now, almost exactly 60 years after the New Zealander and his rope-mate, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, stood on the highest point in the planet, a new plan has been mooted to install a ladder on the famous Hillary Step, as the crucial pitch at nearly 29,000ft has been known since it was first ascended. The aim is to ease congestion.
That’s what the upper panel, above, is all about — and I think it contrasts nicely with the bottom panel, which shows a rurp. Should you need one, you can obtain your own Black Diamond rurp here.
Rurps are awesome. Here are two descriptions of them, both taken from the mountaineering literature, and neither one of them focusing in too closely on the poetry of the name…
It was about the size of a postage stamp. The business end was the thickness of a knife blade and penetrated only a quarter-inch into the rock. With several of these Realized Ultimate Reality Pitons, or rurps, Chouinard and Frost made the crux pitch on Kat Pinnacle (A4). It was the most difficult aid climb in North America.
Chouinard named this postage-stamp-sized thing the realized ultimate reality piton (RURP) because if you willingly and literally hang your life on that quarter-inch of steel, you’re liable to realize, well, ultimate reality.
Zen — yours for $15 and exemplary courage.
Here’s my question: should we make the hard way easier?
When is that a kindness, and when is it foolish?
In its own way, of course, a rurp is an assist — it makes the hard way a tad easier for the serious climber.
As indeed would the proposed “ladder” on Everest: here’s why it might be not-such-a-bad idea:
This year, 520 climbers have reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May, around 150 climbed the last 3,000ft of the peak from Camp IV within hours of each other, causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to descend or ascend harder sections.
“Most of the traffic jams are at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down. If you have people waiting two, three or even four hours that means lots of exposure [to risk]. To make the climbing easier, that would be wrong. But this is a safety feature,” said Sherpa…
Besides, the idea is to set it up as a one-way street…
Frits Vrijlandt, the president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), said the ladder could be a solution to the increasing numbers of climbers on the mountain.
“It’s for the way down, so it won’t change the climb,” Vrijlandt told the Guardian.
Ah, but then there’s human nature to consider:
It is unlikely, however, that tired ascending climbers close to their ultimate goal will spurn such an obvious aid at such an altitude.
Shouldn’t we just level the top off, as Handel and Isaiah 4.4 suggest, and as we’re doing in the Appalachians?
A little mountaintop removal mining, a helipad, and voilà — even I could make it to the summit!
But to return to Loewenstein† & O’Donoghue†† — their paper’s full title was “We Can Do This the Easy Way or the Hard Way”: Negative Emotions, Self-Regulation, and the Law — how can a theologian such as myself resist a diagram such as this?
The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone.
It is true that Deuteronomy 19.21 reads:
And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
and Exodus 21.23-25:
And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
— but its is clear that Adebolajo — who was brought up devoutly Christian in Nigeria, converted (“reverted”) to Islam, and now references suras of the Qur’an using their Arabic names — would also be aware of Sura Al-Ma’ida (5) 45:
And therein We prescribed for them: ‘A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation’; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation.
The quote “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” is often attributed to Mohandas Gandhi, but I checked with Quote Investigator and found it was originally used by one Louis Fischer to paraphrase Gandhi’s teaching, although the Gandhi family apparently think it sounds authentic. But what interested me most was that a form of the same phrase can safely be attributed to Martin Luther King, who is quote in Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, p 208, as saying:
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction of all. The law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it seeks to annihilate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
That’s quite a paragraph.
Of note, besides the parallel structure with which King addresses violence as both impractical and immoral, are two matters I have often pointed to here on Zenpundit:
It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue.
Gandhi’s position seems to come close to that presented in Matthew 5. 38-48 — in which Christ clearly countermands the lex talionis as promulgated in Exodus and Deuteronomy:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
We feel bound explicitly to avow our unshaken persuasion that all war is utterly incompatible with the plain precepts of our divine Lord and Law-giver, and the whole spirit of His Gospel, and that no plea of necessity or policy, however urgent or peculiar, can avail to release either individuals or nations from the paramount allegiance which they owe to Him who hath said, ‘Love your enemies.’ (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27)
How — without denigrating those who are of either the Deuteronomic or the Gandhian persuasion — does one nudge the world-system gently away from justice and towards mercy, away from revenge and towards reconciliation, away from war and towards peace? Towards a new and more viable homeostasis?
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.