segunda-feira, 6 de maio de 2013
The Powerlessness of Kindness: Life And Fate by Vasily Grossman
When the Last Judgment approaches, not only philosophers and preachers, but everyone on earth - literate and illiterate - will ponder the nature of good and evil.
Have people advanced over the millennia in their concept of good? Is this concept something that is common to all people - both Greeks and Jews - as the Apostle supposed? To all classes, nations and States? Even to all animals, trees and mosses - as Buddha and his disciples claimed? The same Buddha who had to deny life in order to clothe it in goodness and love.
Centuries passed and the good of Christianity split up into the distinct goods of Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy. And the good of Orthodoxy gave birth to the distinct goods of the old and new beliefs.
Good of this kind is a mere husk from which the sacred kernel has been lost. Who can reclaim the lost kernel?
People struggling for their particular good always attempt to dress it up as a universal good. They say: my good coincides with the universal good; my good is essential not only to me but to everyone; in achieving my good, I serve the universal good.
Even Herod did not shed blood in the name of evil; he shed blood in the name of his particular good. A new force had come into the world, a force that threatened to destroy him and his family, to destroy his friends and his favourites, his kingdom and his armies.
But it was not evil that had been born; it was Christianity. Humanity had never before heard such words: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again . . . 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 . . . Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ’
What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher’s definitions of good and evil?
But what if life itself is evil?
- have been committed in the name of good.
But if we think about it, we realize that this private, senseless, incidental kindness is in fact eternal. It is extended to everything living, even to a mouse, even to a bent branch that a man straightens as he walks by.
Afterwards she told people what she had done. No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself.
This senseless kindness is condemned in the fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his bosom It is the kindness that has mercy on a tarantula that has bitten a child. A mad, blind, kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this senseless kindness. But one shouldn’t be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean.
This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No, it says, life is not evil!
But, as I lost faith in good, I began to lose faith even in kindness. It seemed as beautiful and powerless as dew. What use was it if it was not contagious?
How can one make a power of it without losing it, without turning it into a husk as the Church did? Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes.
Yes, after despairing of finding good either in God or in Nature, I began to despair even of kindness.
But the more I saw of the darkness of Fascism, the more clearly I realized that human qualities persist even on the edge of the grave, even at the door of the gas chamber.