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On the Meaning of Courage

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Three days ago Marion Bloem, Dutch writer and artist and one of the writers I’ve met with for my book of conversations with women writers on Childhood Under War, wrote to ask:

Corinna, How do you look at this Bush-Iraq war?

I wrote in Reply:

“Dear Marion, I’ve just finally finished translating into Hebrew, from English, a
memoir written by a Holocaust survivor, an aunt of an Israeli musician who
is also a web designer, so it’s kind of a barter arrangement, at his suggestion.

I would have done it anyway, but how heavy it was.

So, since you’ve asked How do I look at this Bush-Iraq war.

It’s such a burden on my mind.

There is the personal scare and the complete disinformation.

I’ve come to think that the weapon industry is using us generation after

Otherwise, how come all these countries are first fed arms by the Industry
and then everybody is surprised that the same countries have become a

I don’t trust the opposition either – the French and the Russian weapon
industry was enabling Saddam’s army and might.

I feel they are all manipulating us pro and contra so that instead of turning
against the industry we turn against each other.

I wish the French and Russian protestors, all and everywhere will go for the
weapon industry, which is at the bottom of it all.

Unless this stage is attained, how will the circle of wars ever get broken?

Meanwhile so much of my attention is taken by worry, as I do not know with
all this dis-information, and hot hatred, how safe is the roof above my head,
or my very head…

And they’re now talking about two months of fighting!
At least writing helps keep our sanity awake.”

This said, I turned to the Internet and found, here on Blogcritics, Peter’s list of Losers and Winners in this round of weapon testing.

Since to my impression the list overlooked the above mentioned Industry, I rushed to help and added my comment. It is indeed set in short sentences, to make it easy on your eyes:

One tiny loser was left out:

The Weapons Industry.

One insignificant winner has been dismissed:

The dead and the wounded, the destroyed and the displaced, the shocked and emotionally disabled for the rest of their tiny life, children, adults, elderly, soldiers, pro-war patriots and anti war patriots.

The very real winner:

The internalized misconcept that peace is an illusion, an impossible dream and War & Evil are and will forever remain embedded in the human nature.

How To:

Identify a potential enemy, feed him with your Industry’s weaponry until the Golem Raises to the high status of Enemy, and then use all your might to destroy him in punishment so that the furnace of the Weapons Industry stays busy and so enables a multitude of Jobs resulting in a good livelihood.”

The honorable Rev Hick was so generous as to read in my humble prose, A Poem. I swear it’s not. Hopefully it’s just lucid prose.

Yet in his own comment to my said “poem” Rev Hick is quoting a most verbally
not quite benevolent quotation by somebody from a different era: John Stewart Mill.

John Stuart Mill, unlike us, was a British philosopher who lived not only ages ago (1806-1873) but in a quite (hopefully) different era.

His livelihood was enabled by a job under his father in the India Office.

I would like to ask Rev Hick for the date of his quotation. John Stuart Mill thinking has changed a bit over the years.

He had no childhood. His father taught him at home and kept him away from children his age.

As he himself has mentioned, his “emotional life was neglected” and in his early twenties he was given to “youthful fanaticism”.

Later on he felt that “a constant habit of analysis had drained up the fountains of feeling within” him.

Further on the guy establishes the theory of Utilitarianism which he summarises as the quest for happiness, yet not on the expense of his fellowmen/women.
(as long as they are British).

As King Salomon is still saying, there comes the age of wisdom. It’s traces we find in JS Mills’s very last words/essay:

Essays on Religion, Chapter Three, On Theism.

I will tell you what he wrote there only after you’ll read Rev Hick’s quotation, that prompted me to go seek a bit further:

“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” John Stuart Mill

And this is what wrote a much wiser John Stuart Mill in the last years of his life:

“… nor, even now, would it be even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete than the endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life.”

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About Corinna Hasofferett

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks C, thought-provoking as always, and a very difficult standard to live up to.

  • not a standard but an ideal to live by, rather than die or kill for – so worshiped in principle for the last two thousand and three yrs.