“The future of a movement is conditioned by the fanaticism, yes, the intolerance, with which its adherents uphold it as the sole correct movement…”
“The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerably imposes its will against all others.”
“I will give a propagandistic cause for starting the war, never mind whether it is plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked, later on, whether we told the truth or not. In starting and waging a war, not the right is what matters but victory.”
“German forces quickly overran the Polish army. In less than three weeks they changed the map of Europe and killed 70,000 Polish soldiers, wounded another 133,000, and took 694,000 prisoner. Underneath the military statistics, the Polish people’s lives were shattered with suffering that numbers can never quantify. The Nazis justified their actions in the worldwide court of public opinion as preemptive self-defense.”
Do any of our current ideas sound similar to these? Do we see the cause of America and democracy as the “sole correct movement?” Are we “fanatically convinced” of our own right? Are we honest in our motives for war and what is actually going on? Have more been killed post-Saddam than pre? Are we willing to think about that? Do we practice preemptive self-defense?
Before I start waxing too political, what about our personal lives? I believe they are often governed by the same ominous principles. Is our opinion right and everyone else’s wrong or at least misguided? Are we intolerant of different views, even in our personal relationships? Do the ends ever justify the means? Surely it is good to have opinions and values, etc. But when do they cross the line? I think the difference is in our level of arrogance. We can be sturdy yet humble (and I don’t mean the Limbaugh style humility, “I may be wrong, but I’m right”) in our views, and don’t need to bend over with every new strand of opinion, but we can also avoid becoming a source of aggression in our interactions. We must always be willing to humbly admit that we may be mistaken, or at least willing to learn more and consider alternate ideas. I think it is dangerous to become so arrogant that we think we know better than everyone else. When we are a source of aggression to those around us, we are contributing, in however a small way, to the conflicts of nations.