A majority of the world is ruled by regimes that are based on hatred. Hatred of the other. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of the Islamic State, one might hope that the world would be on a path to a better future, but with the turn towards authoritarian rule in many countries, including Russia, Iran and Turkey, this prospect is dimmed.
A group of cyclists on a “kindness tour” were run down and then stabbed to death by a group of ISIS terrorists in Tajikistan. Before embarking on their round the world tour one of them wrote: “Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own… By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.” So much for the naivete of the self-deluded, unfortunately evil is real, very real and deadly.
I have been watching two series at the same time, “Fauda,” is very violent and deals with Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terrorism, and as an antidote I have been watching the comedy series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” You might notice that these have one theme in common, namely they both have Jewish subjects. In “Fauda” the Arab terrorists scheme to “kill the Jews,” they hardly mention Israel, in “Mrs Maisel” the theme is Jewish humor, how Jewish family life becomes a source of laughter that transcends boundaries. It is indeed remarkable that so many American comedians were Jewish, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Danny Kaye, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Billy Crystal, well beyond the statistical proportion of Jews in the American population (similar to that of the Nobel Prizes).
I also happened to watch a 2011 movie entitled “Oranges and Sunshine” that deals with the exposure by a British social worker, Margaret Humphreys, of the forced deportation of British children to Australia between 1947-1970. These children were either orphaned or born to single mothers and were taken away from them and shipped out without their consent or knowledge. About 130,000 children were transported this way by a secret agreement between the British and Australian Governments, with the connivance of Orphanages, Hospitals and Church organizations that were entrusted with the welfare of these children. In Australia, these children were exploited, many by Church organizations, particularly the Catholic Christian Brothers, as slave labor and many were sexually and physically abused. It took 30 years and legal action before the British and Australian Governments apologized for this gross abuse of human rights.
There are of course many other examples of children being abused. In the US, Canada and Australia there were schemes in the 19th century that justified taking indigenous (Indian and Aboriginal) children away from their parents and bringing them up as “white Christians” in order to destroy their own culture, language and religion. Many of these children were also abused and even murdered. So evil does certainly exist, and if they do this to children they can do it to anyone who is in their clutches. So sometimes humans can be generous and kind, but don’t take any chances.