BETWEEN TWO IDEALS
The struggle for existence is the main condition for any being, human or animal equally. From the smallest cell until the most complex organism, life is an endless endeavour for an individual's betterment based on his environment. It stops only when he exhausts his resources, or meets with a similar individual with whom he has to share the same resources ("My freedom stops where others' freedom begins"). An individual's ideal is a selfish one. It is so obvious that the previous phrase seems a truism.
Realizing the limits of his aspirations, limits that bring his unhappiness, man has built an ideal opposed to the egoism, one that is altruistic until the abandonment of oneself. In this way, religion appears. It wants to make us some better, impeccably good people, but just here the fault lies, because such a thing is impossible. Why does it still do it? Because it wants to counterbalance our malefic tendencies. But, being an ideal as well, it is not really followed by anyone, and, remaining a theoretical idea, the religion that preaches it becomes obsolete in time. The real man adopts an intermediate attitude, between the unscrupulous selfishness and the absolute altruism (if it really exists), in accordance with his personality. Contrary to expectations, the wit of choice does not belong to the theory - in this case to religion - but to the common man. The question we ask almost naturally is: why does not the theory achieve it by itself, suggesting a clever way, between the two absolute ideals? (Do not ask me!)
The same attitude is to be found in politics as well, especially when we talk about democracy. An audacious propaganda makes us believe that the political system in which we live is the closest to perfection, or at least approaches it. Democracy is an ideal, and the pretension of achieving it is similar to ignorance. Why we cannot find a political system in which the leading principle is a rational way, and not an ideal one? I said a rational way, but mean reasonable, not the Rationalism, because it last appeared as a philosophical current in opposition to theology, destined to take Europe out of the darkness of the Middle Age, dominated by religion, but the consequences of which led to exaggerations too, among which the communism (I intend to develop this idea later).
It seems that our fate is to be permanently in turmoil, seeking answers between two extreme ideals, trying every time the limits of each one of them, without being able to find the reasonable way. Why? Because, the more the seas 'troubled', the more fish can be caught. And these lucky fishermen are the ones who lead the world. But can we find a different way forward? Maybe yes, maybe not! I do not know, and do not expect me to give an answer, but this is what I like to discuss about.
For the moment, let me notice a short remark: we often observe that many old people are dissatisfied of lot kind of things. The cause is evidently: they did not reach their long-term ideals. It is not difficult to find out why: the ideals were unfitted for their possibilities. If these discontent persons had been only a few, we could have said that it was their fault. But too many old persons are in this position. It means a general cause must be. Certainly it is no one else but our education. Our wrong education!
Yet, speaking about a topic – whichever it would be – we must first assured ourselves that we have the same meaning of the terms we work with. Unless, we speak something, thinking that our partner understand exactly what we said, but he may have a different meaning of a word, and consequently he does not understand us maybe at all.
For example, it seems there is not a word with so many interpretations as the “communism”, depending on where the speakers are from, and other circumstances. I changed many letters with pen pals from different countries and was surprised how many and important differences regarding the meanings of this word are.
As for religion, I think that every person has his own understanding of the deep meaning of the word, in according with his personality, from the most faithful ones to the convinced atheists (which sometimes are – without knowing – more faithful than many professionals of religion). That’s why the topic will permanently remain opened, even the most books ever people wrote treat it in all aspects, but seldom well balanced, even-tempered, mostly pathetically, either from the missionary’s position or from the bitter atheist’s one.
The clarity of communication is the most important criterion if we truly want to communicate. For understanding each other you must understand exactly what I want to say. Only then you can appreciate if I am right or wrong. For this, you need to know exactly the meaning of my words, knowing how I think, why I think so and not in a different way. Actually you will be able de define your own opinion in according with your own feelings and experiences. In other words, we will speak the same language. This is why I put at the end of the book a short autobiography. I do not like to speak about myself, because it is not handy to me. Maybe this explains why it is a little playful. Still, it is not lacked by authenticity. You can read it just now, but do not forget to come back just here. The autobiographic references will not be absent later too, as they explain how I came to some findings. Anyway, I do not pretend that all that I write is the „absolute true” – even if, sometimes, it seems to be – but only an opinion wanting to be contradicted. (I love gainsaying!)
Trying to define some terms, I should become pedant, even if I do not want it at all. However, if it happens, I bag your pardon in advance. Anyway, for avoiding such situations, I will not give definitions, but I will comment upon some notions, the reader being able in this way to understand better my point of view, face to which he surely might have his own opinion.
Also, sometimes I contradict myself, affirming an idea in a chapter and its contrary in another. That’s so because I am a man of questions. I do not know the truth; I only seek for it. And I do not give miraculous solutions; I invite to think. Besides, a thing can be seen from different points of view, so we can imagine different solutions. I am not a priest to answer with the same songs no matter of the question. There may be alternative variants, and I invite the others to think at them. A good book contains more questions than answers. I do not pretend I realized such a thing, but . . . I still have questions for several books.
Do not be afraid, I am not a philosopher and I do not deal with philosophy. If sometimes I meditate a little, I do it from the common-man’s position. Sometimes I am accused that I philosophise. Maybe I only ramble. I hope to do it at least in an agreeable way.
It is true that, now and again, I have a tendency to philosophise. Some more malicious fellows say that I am like this almost all the time. It would be good for me, but I do not believe them. On the other hand, Jose Ortega y Gasset assures us that "philosophy keeps its virginity in spite of its repeated violations", so philosophy is in no danger. As for my inclinations toward such preoccupations, they exist only in the etymological sense of the word: love (philo) for wisdom (sophia). A philosopher involves a professional, namely someone who earns his living doing philosophy, or at least appearing to do it. As long as I have another profession, I could not be a philosopher at the same time, but I would love to be more sagacious, or at least to know more than I know. I do not think that, for such a little thing, one would agree to recognise me as a philosopher. The professionals certainly don't, but I have to assume that I am not suffering for it. Shortly, philosophy has lots of good and bad connotations and it would be too complicated for me to explain now which of them fit to me and which do not.
The adjectival sense of the word philosophy is still acceptable not only for me, but also for all people, because - to a certain extent - all of us are philosophers, that is to say lovers of wisdom. That does not mean that all of us are necessarily wise persons (which would be the most boring thing on earth), but we cannot deny we would like to be wise. But what is wisdom really? Napoleon said that stupid people deal with the past, wise men with the present day and madmen with the future (“Les sots parlent du passe, les sages du présent, les fous de l’avenir”). If he had been a little mad, his fate would have been better, maybe. One thing is certain: he used to have very unclear ideas about wisdom. So please allow me to consider myself, if not a philosopher, at least a fan of it. Napoleon also said: "Mind always beats sword". Paradoxical fellow this Napoleon!
In India of olden days, the words ‘Upanishad’ had the meaning of “stay close by me and think together”, as Upanishads are commentaries of the main concepts of Veda. So that . . . let us ‘upanishad’ together!
I keep a vast correspondence with people from many countries, and have noticed how different meanings some words could have. When someone says that he has a central, left, or right political orientation, he has in view as a reference point the system from his country. That’s why there are more people of left orientation in countries with right orientated systems, and vice versa. Right or left are relative positions, depending on where we think the centre is. There always is a problem to know how much to the right thinks someone coming from the left and how much to the left thinks someone coming from the right, and how far is their relative position. It seems that, in people's opinion, the best political system is anything else except that in which they are living. (The grass always is greener in another field)
I do not want to impose to others my interpretation of words. Of course, one may have some own ones. But we must agree each other on the meaning of any word we use for conveying to one another the exact sense of our ideas.
When I think to some words with undefined meaning, I remember an older observation. I used to work as a computing programmer in an Electronic Computing Territorial Centre and – as most problem what I was dealing with were from the economic field – I made up my mind to learn seriously the science of bookkeeping, not “by ear”, as it usually happened. Of course, I first procured the university manuals, but just then I found across by accident a textbook for the ninth or tenth class – I do not remember exactly – for economic high schools. I remained consternated when I begun to read the first pages: many phrases were incomprehensible for me; without speaking for the children to whom they were addressed, due to the use of undefined words, unknown for any beginner. Some of the words were to be defined later, through the following lessons, but others maybe never. Surely such phrases placed at the beginning of the book were useless. It explains us how it is that that some children get used of learn by heart phrases that they do not understand, but repeat them because the teacher claims it. Why still such phrases appear in a didactic manual? For avoiding the word “stupidity” - even if this is the only one that could characterize the teacher’s desire to seem clever in face of some children - I will only say that such things happen because of the lacking of pedagogic gift of those who conceive didactic manuals and have the power to utter about their contain and quality. As for schoolchildren learning from such textbooks, they remain for the rest of their lives marked by the fact that they do not understand many of the notions with they still work, and then get accustomed with this state, which becomes natural for them. Later, for some of them, ‘mysterious’ becomes the favourite adjective, and the existence of some esoteric groups is a frequent explanation for all that they do not understand. A simple worker often thinks clearer because he at least knows what he does. If public education is guided in such a way, why do we wonder the society is all-adrift?
I am stopping here criticizing, because it is not my purpose. I only wanted to show why, for me, the clarity of communication is an important criterion if we truly want to communicate.
A group of words with shaded meanings are around the faith. I think there are as many nuances as many people are. Every person has his point of view. One maybe thinks to be a believer, but his faith always is a particular one. About them I will discuss later.
In politics things are almost the same. Communism, socialism, etc. are words that could whip our spirits up, just because of our different interpretation. For some people, such words are seen as defining abstract, theoretical ideals, more or less utopian, according with their conception. Instead, in China, the former USSR, east European countries, and many others, people could not separate them from their real life. Even among such countries, things are different. In former USSR, for example, the politic system was an autochthon one, while in central and eastern European countries the Russian occupant imposed it. They had a socialism of occupation, and felt it differently. Among the people of the same country there are differences from a generation to the other. It is clear that a serious discussion could not be possible with such confusing words.
It is in fashion nowadays to say communist instead of socialist when we speak about eastern European countries, in order to spare the feeling of the members of some occidental socialist parties. Also, sometimes communism is seen as an antonym of democracy. Let not allow the illusion to lead us! As a matter of fact, the second ‘S’ from USSR means socialist. They used to say socialist, not communist, because the communism was the target and socialism. The official name of nowadays-northern Korea is one of popular and democratic republic. Do not let words to deceive us.
In this point, I have to do a specification of some terms that I use in so said “philosophical” considerations. These specifications are necessary for those with some readings from communist propaganda (many of us did not get rid of them). Besides “philosophy”, one uses the word metaphysic, of course not in the interpretation of communist “philosophers”, as an antonym for “Marxist dialectics”. According to The Oxford Dictionary, the metaphysics is „theoretical philosophy of being & knowing”, while the philosophy is “love of wisdom or knowledge, especially that which deals with ultimate reality, or with the most general causes & principles of things”. (I love this definition: love of wisdom.) These are the interpretations that I use. So, metaphysics presume a scientific approach (if we may speak about science inside of metaphysics), while philosophy is something much more general. Anyone does philosophy (even myself), but not anyone does metaphysics.
Travelling abroad, many friends asked me how is life in my country. (I am from Romania.) Generally speaking, it is useful to know how the others are, in order to know better ourselves, because only making comparisons we can see it. What is interesting is that all of them have the same lack of understanding about what happens in the real life, because they are victims of the system in which they live. All of us are like this. I must confess that, in my turn, I am not different. I would like to know more about the life in some central African areas, for instance, but I have not enough patience to read about them, even if I realised that I could learn many interesting things. In the same way, why other people from more developed countries would be interested in the Romanian's life? That explains why people ask questions, but does not listen the answers. (And still I try to give answers!) We all think in archetypes, in patterns, previously done in our education. From this reason, often we cannot understand some different situations, and put our patterns on other life.
Why would we need to discus about philosophy? Because philosophy is responsible not only for its immediate ideas, but for the derivate and deviant ones too. It is easy to see that a much part from our history was a consequence of some philosophic or pseudo-philosophic ideas. The reciprocal assertion is true as well. Politics influenced philosophy. The development of classic German philosophy, for example, was not accidentally. It coincided with the development of Germany itself, corresponds with the evolution of German mentality, influenced it and was influenced by it. German society did not quiet down before finding its “overman’ in Hitler’s person. And because the best people had to own the best philosophy, then the classic German philosophy appeared. Unfortunately, it still confuses the philosophers with no vocation. I do not want to criticize Kant. The others did it. What frightens the beginners is the huge quantity of his writings and its style: precious, affected and rigid. But, open at random whichever from his “masterworks” and you will see that, when he does not say truisms, he issue ideas that do not resist at a serious analyse. How is that that he is so famous, being considered together with the whole classic German philosophy the quintessence of the philosophy? That’s so because many philosophers are cabotin, some histrionic ones. They adopt an esoteric language, adorned with quotations from Kant, behind of which they cover their own sufficiency (sometimes insufficiency), for keeping at distance any uncomfortable person. It is exactly the wrong way that philosophy itself went through. Surrendering in face of philosophising, they have created a myth and used it to some political interests, according to the epoch and country supporting them. In such a way many propagandistic doctrines were built for political use, doctrines that lead to equal many catastrophes.
A solution would be the recovering of common-sense philosophy, but for making it possible some politicians should be removed, which is more that utopian; it is an absurdity. A way still exists! Its name is education, but it claims time.
If democracy assures the feedback of the society, then it must exist a democracy in philosophy. The common people may to be able to think and make known his opinion about the important philosophical matters. When the official philosophy ceases to be understandable for common man, it lost the control and becomes nothing more than a jingle of words, which just happens not entirely accidentally.
There are two categories of philosophers: those who consider there is a field of philosophy, as it is one for physics, another one for mathematics, etc., and those who ascertain that a such field does not exist, and philosophy is reduced to a history of people’s attitude in face of the sensible reality.
Kant belongs to the first category. He banters of those from the second in Foreword at his Prolegomena, warning them that his book is not for those who confound the history of philosophy with the philosophy itself. He ignored such a demarche, as – for him – philosophy much be approached frontal, as any science, and not from the angle or our current knowledge about it. This was Kant’s opinion. On the one hand, he was right, because the real world does not change its laws according with our knowledge about it. Every science – physics, chemistry, etc. – has a stable field; our knowledge about it may be roughly. There is the question whether philosophy has one as well. Kant is among the latest who was obstinate in believing that such a field just exists and built what it seemed to be the most solid philosophic system, even if Kant himself affirmed in the same work that “its adepts (of the philosophy) diminish themselves in number, as those who are gifted enough for distinguishing himself in other sciences do not seem to be ready to risqué their reputation in a field where anyone, even if he is ignorant in all the other fields, dare to utter definitive judgement”. He was right, but it did not save his system. It lasts no long and Kant’s formidable philosophical system, in spite of its rigour - which really is remarkable – proved to have more flaws than some older systems. Giovanni Papini destroyed almost entirely, not only the system, but also Kant himself as a philosopher. It seems that the cause is the inconsistence of the field for his system. And then, what remain? It remains just the history of philosophy, but not pedantic exposed, with affectedness, for showing the author’s “brightness”, but as a part of the history of civilization.
In the last time, more numerous are the supporters of the second category, those who appreciate only the history of philosophy. Before talking about the history of philosophy, there is the question what the philosophy is? I will bring in supporting Nae Ionescu, a Romanian philosopher, quoted by Stefan Voinescu in “Nae Ionescu, Course of History of Metaphysics”.
Nae Ionescu conceives philosophy as being “an original synthesis (The History of Logics). . . For Nae Ionescu, philosophy is not a “handicraft”, which one can learn . . . It is a “gift” . . . Philosophy is “a general vision on the reality”, made not from the scientific point of view, objectively, but as a consequence of coming to an agreement with myself” . . . We first notice a compulsory claim: for doing philosophy, one must be a well-outlined personality . . . to have a strong sensibility, a great need of harmonize with himself, a deep necessity of finding an equilibrium, of seeking for a centre of gravity that seat you in a stable equilibrium. . . After such an activity, followed by unrest, inner laceration, suffering, one comes to the conclusion that man has a kind of shortage in “closing in him”, for being enough to himself. Hence, the need of opening to the world of beyond of himself, of out of him. But this world does not receive the man with open arms, but it many times hostile . . . So, we come to refer two terms: I – a world of knowing subject – and the world that I perceive. Two worlds: “I and what I am not”, I and the world, two worlds that permanently oppose each other. In this opposition stay “the kernel of the process of philosophise” . . . “The process of searching the rapport between me and the world is the main preoccupation of the philosophy”.
And now, we may ask: “where is the professional philosopher?” if Nae Ionescu assures us that philosophy is not a handicraft that we can learn, but a “gift”, which we may achieve during our lives.
In this moment, I think that the number – already small – of my readers diminishes with the subassembly of those who feel themselves philosophers, and I offended them. It is not a great damage, as I want to communicate in an honest reciprocal way. On the other hand, when I write, I do not have in view a stupid reader, as such people do not read anyway, but neither a great scholar, because this one has enough trouble with the defending of his ideas and has no time for mine. That’s why I have in view a common man, which – like me – tries to find answers of some problems at a midst level of general education. I do not give lessons, do not utter definitive assertions; even if sometimes I seem to be more undoubtedly, everything I said is not more that a challenge to dialog.
Since Socrates' day up until today, philosophy has been through the mill, from sublime toward ridiculous! First at all, from the large field of knowledge, smaller but more precise fields have spun off, one after another. They have built their means of investigation, and have definite themselves as more or less exact sciences. The reminded field for philosophy has become smaller and smaller, and more gravely, fewer and fewer people are willing to make philosophy their career, as long as scientific ones were much more pertinent and profitable. The remaining philosophers, following the example of the exact sciences, tried to create their own language but, unfortunately, not to make the expression clearer but, on the contrary, more esoteric and exclusive.
Veda means in Sanskrit language science, knowledge (Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, etc.). This proves that, in the 3rd millennium B.C., a priest used to be scientist and scholar as well. The separation occurred later. The weakest of them remained philosophers and particularly priests.
Often, nowadays philosophers write on a rigorous, arid and sophisticated way what people knew long before. Often, in many scholarly writings, the author ends his expose with a folk saying, destined to confirm the truth of his logical demonstration, but which proves that popular wise knew for a long time what he had just discovered.
Socrates used to philosophise with all people, for all people, using language adequate to his interlocutors, but always approaching essential problems. Nowadays philosophy is only a parade of language, sometimes just to hide a lack of ideas and content. "Quand un philosophe nous répond, on ne comprend plus du tout ce qu’on lui avait demandé." (André Gide) The consequence is recorded by one of the last of common-sense Romanian philosopher: “the authors of philosophic texts are greater in number today in the world than their readers” (Gabriel Liiceanu).
As for the people, from the philosophy they expect for something that it cannot give, and afterwards - receiving nothing - they express their disappointment. Man wants to receive the truth, but the single way to accede to it is his own inner act of thinking. By all means, philosophy should be thought again and again, in every epoch, with the tools of thinking specific to that epoch.
That’s why, as a reader, I prefer the essays of scientists who, willing or not, become more philosophical as the years go by. They, at least, passed some serious examinations and proved some superior brains. The first philosophers were the scientists of their time as well. Later on, most of the serious ones used to have hard studies. Probably such thoughts entered Schopenhauer's mind when he wrote "he who wants to make serious philosophy must study thoroughly at least on exact science". Therefore the idea is not a new one, but it is not convenient. Why? It is not difficult to see.
Concerning the books of philosophy, I must confess that I read only few of them, just very few if I think at how many I would like to have been read. I had no time, but neither the necessary patience. Instead, I have learnt more from the book of the history of philosophy, namely from those that I do not consider to be just philosophers, but teachers of philosophy.
Well. I am not a great personality, but from time to time I meditate, even if not always inspired. If philosophy is “a general visual of the reality, for coming to an agreement with myself”, it is what all of us do. What is its utility? For those who did not find salvation in mystics, drugs, drinking, excessive work (which is a drug too), philosophising is the search for a psychic inner equilibrium, through which the man accepts the world as it is, adapting himself to it, because he has not other choice. (Religion, instead of accepting the reality and man’s adaptation, suggests the escape from reality imagining a virtual, pseudo reality.)
So, let’s do not hesitate any longer! I think, therefore I am! “Cogito, ergo sum”. If this is true, the reciprocal statement is true as well.
The conclusion of this chapter is that – if a philosophy like the Kant’s one is not necessary, as most of us think – instead, to philosophise is not only pleasant, but just useful.
I know that most of us dislike politics, but it exists. Removing the mirror, the image reflected in it disappears, but the real object remains. We do not solve problems by ignoring them.
I am starting this chapter with a shocking affirmation: democracy is a religious idea, and communism is its last disastrous consequence. How is that? As I probably already said, Bible teaches us that people are equal in face of God, so that they are equal each other. Church had hidden this idea during the Middle Age, because it was a supporter of monarchy. But when people renounced both at monarchy and church, they remembered and preserved Christian principles. The equality between people was one of the first. In this way democracy became the most used word in the propaganda of all political systems of our days. Later, the communism has become its ideal, and socialism a transitory period toward the final target.
But, let’s begin with the beginning. Aristotle identified in the chapter V, book III, of his Politica three theoretical types of governing:
- royalty, when a single man rules the country
- aristocracy, when a minority of people, supposed to be the best, governs
- republic, when the majority of people governs.
We recognize democracy in the third type.
Any type has its deviant forms:
- tyranny for royalty
- oligarchy for aristocracy
- demagogy for republic.
Any type has its qualities and flaws, so that, inevitable, it turns into other type when the discontentment of people exceeds an acceptable threshold. Aristotle had in view all kind of countries, including those very small ones, sometimes limited at a single citadel, and the slave-owning system, where only the ‘citizens’ might go to the polls. In the first chapter of the same book, Aristotle specifies who has the right to be citizen. In such small towns-state, like Sparta, or Athena, a government of majority of citizen would be theoretic possible, even if Aristotle himself is doubtful (a state could not be governed by the majority, because the majority is formed by poor people, he says) In nowadays world, with large states, a leadership made by the majority is impossible. Remain only the demagogy, not as type of government, but as adjective for the two others.
Democracy needed a period of oppression for this nowadays-triumphant explosion to be produced. This period was Middle Age, which put an end to antique democracies and settled up the blackest epoch, comparable with that of soviet communism, in which Christianity was replaced with the Marxism. It seems that the church was afraid of Christian-levelling principles and then took possession of its name, but only after turning its principles into some false ones, according with the interests of the monarchy.
After Renaissance, monarchy and church felt together, due to the exaggerations they had done together. (The monarchy formally survived in several countries like England, as the dissociation produced there earlier, avoiding thus mistakes as ample as the Inquisition was.)
As monarchy needed to be replaced with something, that something they want to be democracy. But, as I already shown, a real democracy, namely a governing by the majority, would not be practically possible in modern states, too large and with problems much too complex for being understandable by all the people. They maintain democracy only at the propagandistic level. We have democracy through our representatives (stupid mob elect its clever men). And, because a religion however is necessary (religion, not church), democracy played this role of social ideal, particularly because the rabble like it, and the main political chances in Europe were revolutionary, therefore with the participation of the mob. That’s why, no matter of the real form of government, any country calls itself a democrat one. “Give to people bread and circus”, used to say the Romans. The circus is to be found today in electioneering.
In reality, the majority of modern states are elitist, aristocratic or oligarchic, according with the way in which the elite are recruited, and their education.
How the enlist is made, we may emit all kind of theories, but it is clear that any parent will try to promote his child and any politician will try to surround himself with men loyal to himself. This is just the main mistake made by the communist leaders, mistake that led to the collapse of the system. For doing the recruitment by promoting the real values, some other criterions must exist, other interests. The property is one of them. In this regard, the capitalist system proved to be better, because – in spite of some monstrous mistakes – it recovered itself every time. The communist one, instead, felt after its first generation. The explanation is that, while the capitalist system is a natural one, in which the feedback works – even if with some delay – the communist system was artificially and felt when the combustible was exhausted, the energy of the initiators finished.
Also, there are not real royalties in our days, so that we may speak only about aristocracies or oligarchies. All modern countries are governed by a group of people, sometimes better, sometimes worse. In these days, there are only elitist countries, and demagogy is their adjective, and democracy is their first lie. They could be good or bad, but this is another question.
Dictatorship, totalitarism, etc. are words invented by occidental socialist parties, for hiding the failure of socialist ideas in Eastern Europe, and not only there.
It is clear that in all former communist countries the oligarchy was the type of government. The difference fact to Aristotle’s conception is that these countries did not become oligarchic by coming from some aristocracies through degeneration, but directly through coup d’état. Lenin, Stalin and their comrades did it. In the occupied countries, the Russians removed the old aristocrats and imposed some traitors and rascals, eager to have their revenge.
Of course, any country needs an official leader, and this one is not always a strong and clever man, a real dictator, but most frequently a puppet acceptable by the group. If he is stupid enough to think he is the one, even a dictator, then so much the better. He will be make culprit for everything goes bad. I think nobody think so little to believe that in every communist countries appeared in the same time a dictator like Cesar.
The pure democracy does not yield prosperity, but chaos. Occidental countries are prosperous; consequently, they are not quite democratic. It sounds like a paradox. Is it one? Is the USA really a democratic country? Not at all! Otherwise, it would be impossible. (In a hundred per cent democratic system, people will elect Barabbas, not Jesus) About the meetings in the old Greece - country where the word democracy was born - Cyrus (mentioned by Herodotus) said that agora is the place where the Greeks come for cheat one another. (How small is the difference between chat and cheat!) The nowadays democracy is not more than a word efficiently used by politicians in order to lead the people, common people especially. (If voting could really change things, it would be illegal, said a wit) What could be a real democracy? A country where stupid but many people elect their "clever men" to lead the country? Let's be serious! It would be such a great ineptitude that even the electors would not accept it. What really happens? The idea of democracy leads to the universal vote. Every people have the right to vote. But people are not organised, so that the first initiative come from some active persons, the politicians, who build the necessary organism for attracting as many electors as they can. They will develop propaganda adequate to their political conviction, in order to make them known. But a few people understand politics. Much more people are ignorant. And then, the sly politicians develop a demagogic propaganda, particularly adequate at stupid people. This is the way of the communism. Russian experience proved that this way is wrong. A clever man learns from other's mistakes. Occidental counties know that it is more important to keep the equilibrium. And people understand that it is not so wise to impose your own opinions. Sometimes it is good to listen what others say; maybe they know better. And the equilibrium is possible if those in power do not stay too long in power. Two mandates are quite enough. This is what East European democracies did not do: Stalin, Brezhnev, Ceausescu stayed a lot. USA succeeded in keeping the equilibrium.
During the communist years, Russian official propaganda used to say that the former USSR and occupied countries were being democratic countries, while the occidental ones were some capitalist ones, namely bad. Now, we are democratic again, but of capitalist inspiration, even if the capital lacks us.
What I am remarking in the USA - the symbol of the democracy - is the similarity of its nowadays propaganda with that of the Russians in 50's years. What makes the difference is the USA is a prosperous country, while the East European countries still have precarious economies, in a fragrant contradiction with the communist propaganda.
Yes, the democracy is conditioned by prosperity. We may speak about democracy only in a prosperous country. Instead, only an authority well intentioned could produce prosperity, which is the necessary background for democracy. Without prosperity, democracy yields only chaos.
A nation does not rise from nothing. Not even the USA! It started from Europe. Its people, the Americans, renounced at some things and added the others, by borrowing from other continents or by their own contribution. Not all they removed was wrong, and not all they added was good, but the result is positive, and this is what matters. The exact balance sheet will be known latter!!!
I have often thought the Americans do not know how close they are to the communist system. Mainly their propaganda is still awkwardly similar to the Soviet one of the 50's years. And now there are these nets of services, organised at national level. Fortunately, unlike the Russians, the Americans know to avoid the precipice in the last moment, before provoking a disaster. They renounced in time the McCarthy doctrine. Another example is anti-trust laws in economy. This confirms the idea that the key of the art of government is the equilibrium. Monarchy, democracy, or anything else is not as important as the equilibrium.
I am thinking now at the scandal the Clinton versus Monica Lewinsky, some years ago. It was in 1998, as I remember, as it happened just during my second visit in the USA. Then, no matter when or where, if a television set catches your eye, a passionate discusses on this topic was to be seen. All programmes have plenty of debates about Clinton’s wrongdoing. I do not have a special preoccupation with Clinton and I do not defend him, but I accuse the Republicans of using it as a campaign strategy, which is more pernicious for American democracy than for Clinton as person and for the Democratic Party, their true target. It is a political mistake. I said that it was the beginning of the end of American democracy. Certainly, I was exaggerating. American democracy will not end because of Clinton or his adversaries. Then, what is the matter? I must explain a few points!
1. Democracy is not so much a political system, as a state of affairs. A state of equilibrium, a balance of power, in which people express their opinions, and politicians take these opinions into account. There is some trust between them. Early in the life of every democracy, people are enthusiastic and the trust reaches the maximum level. Peoples' actions are convergent with the general interest, and the economy is prosperous. In time, trust grows weaker and democracy grows old owing to just such events as Clinton’s case. The Italians or Greeks are good examples of old nations. Nobody would succeed in persuading the common Italian that his efforts could bring back the lost glory of the Roman Empire. That’s why he acts in an individual way, in his own interest, or at the most in his family's interests.
2. USA is a young nation with a still young democracy. The common American still relies on his leaders, and the American flag - a symbol of the pride in being American - is to be found everywhere, even on the harlots' pants. (So I heard!)
3. This public debate on Clinton’s case is not a gain for democracy. On the contrary, it is a step toward its ageing, because people lose their trust in leaders. Clinton is not the first and surely will not be the last president who made a false step. After a few years, people will forget him and his actions, good or bad. What will remain in people's subconscious is the idea that American politicians are not necessarily perfect. That is why Clinton’s guilt is not what is really important. Much guiltier are the Republicans who, in their fury, inflamed this shameful scandal, evidently for momentary politic interests, with too little care for long-term consequences.
4. The Republicans do not win more, because people have the opportunity to see that they do care more for removing their political adversaries than for the nation's matters. The senators' vote, according to party allegiance rather than for the case, is illustrative for their real preoccupation. They do not destroy as much the trust in Clinton, as the trust in politicians generally, and Republicans especially.
5. Democracy disappears together with trust, and as democracy is the key to economical prosperity, this suffers too, because there is not democracy without a good economy. Democracy and poverty are incompatible each other.
As much as people need religion, they need political leaders as well, maybe just more. Two dangers are permanently in store for us:
- to make some idols from the leaders;
- to destroy leaders’ authority, and implicitly people’s trust in them.
The both of them can make democracy to crumble.
Now I think at the “democracy” of eastern countries. Of course, everybody says now that they were not really democracies. But which one really is? The occidental ones? We can discus it! Let’s talk now about the oriental ones, at less because democratic and just popular were words as used as they must be replaced.
China is changing its economy, not the political system, yet. The former USSR collapsed because of the bankruptcy of its economy. Which is the difference between them? We may see some differences between their religions and the official politics face to the religion. Religion and economy! Could be a connection between them? Sometimes, yes!
The Chinese faith has been mainly unchanged for almost three thousand years and, most important, their religions (Zen, Buddhism, Confucianism) were never state religions. In other words, the political power and the people's faith are two different things. Zen is the people's faith, without priests. None of their religions are hierarchical, that is, organised in an official structure so that it would be nothing to abolish on an official way. It is not surprising that Chinese communists did not forbid religious fetes. Besides, Buddhism is an aristocratic religion, Buddha himself was an aristocrat, and his teaching was assimilated by the people as wisdom, as salvation by the means of knowing, of meditation, of understanding. One might not ask people to renounce wisdom, as the religion for a Buddhist believer is the wisdom itself. Buddhism does not offer a stern system, in which the believer must be integrated, but only a way of meditation. At the opposite pole, Judaism and Christianity appear as religions of poor people from countries occupied by foreigners, and/or oppressed by their own leaders. These religions offer a hope in the future, and facile solutions for the moment, frequently limited at prayers and hosannas. After a while, the politicians have understood how to take advantage of Christian doctrine and used the religion as a boomerang for handling the people. Religion was often similar to the doctrine of the single party in authoritative regimes, particularly the monarchic ones. As for the communists, removing the religion was strictly necessary in their opinion, as they wanted to replace it with their communist doctrine. And it was not difficult at all, as people no longer believe in old stories, anyway. For the Europeans, religion and wisdom is not similar.
Mao Zedong, who was a clever man, probably thought that mixing politics and faith would be a mistake. Lenin instead did it, but it is not surprising. Why? He had a European education. Most Europeans are Christians. Lenin was too, but not entirely. Marx and Engels, his ideological mentors, were not at all. In Europe, as soon as Carol the Great accepted the crown from the Pope in the year 800, all the countries had Christianity as state religion till 1789 when France removed the monarchy and religion at the same time. (It is not the French that invented democracy but they made the most noise around it.) The mentors of Communism thought to replace the Christian doctrine with the communist one. That's why they saw in church their ideological adversary. As Christianity was the single doctrine of Middle Age, Marxism-Leninist doctrine was to be the religion of the new epoch.
For those who lived under the soviet influence it was clear that the communist party, as the single party, and Inquisition of 14-15 centuries are more similar than different. The communists had one more reasons to be afraid of the church. They started from the idea that, in any democracy, the politicians come to power thanks to the people's vote. We want universal vote, don't we? Most people are uneducated and easy to handle with simple and lying arguments.
This is the essence of the communist doctrine: handling people with simple ideas. Consequently, the intellectuals and priests were the communists' enemies. That's why a priority of Russian politics in all the conquered countries was to get rid off the traditional religions. And they did it. Mostly by killing. This was a stupid and catastrophic mistake.
I had the opportunity of being present to the ascension, decline and collapse of the communist system. It was not a pleasure, but now I know how worked the wheels of all its gearings. And still, it is very difficult to explain shortly what really happens.
Unfortunately, Romania is poorer and poorer. The communism was much worse than it seemed to be. The society will need at least two generations for recovering by it. That's so because it marks people's mentality. The communism became real here only after the old education people were removed, and it will be removed after people educated by communism will disappear. This is the most difficult period, because instead of communist leaders some false ones appeared. Corruption and incompetence are the first words. Unfortunately, the occidental countries "help" us to increase only the corruption (there are not corruption without corrupters).
Frequently, Romania and the other East European countries are put together with the Russia. This is a great mistake. We were as communist as capitalist were the former colonies, occupied by capitalist countries. After the WW II, Russia was the occupant, while the other countries were occupied. The communism was authentic only in Russia, where they did it by themselves. In occupied countries some traitors sold the country, while the rest of people beard the consequences. The Russians destroyed our economy, but they built in Russia. (Do not forget that Moscow was built in 1156 by Iuri Dolgoruki, which means long arm (hand), namely Iuri "the thief". The Russians did not forget.) The hierarchy of the values was normal in Russia, but inverted in occupied counties. Good professionals were appreciated in Russia, but persecuted in Romania. Only corruption was the same, as an authentic product of the communism.
A nowadays historian said that there were more than 540,000 political trials in Romania in the first years of Russians occupation. The most of the accused were intellectuals from urban medium. I took a statistical annual, and did a little calculation. The Romanian population in 1948 was of about 15 millions. At that time, 78% live in rural, 51.7% were women and 25% children under 19 years. The result is the number of men living in urban: a few over 1 million. As not all of them were intellectuals, and the communists did not condemn the workers, we may come to the conclusion that almost whole intellectual class was destroyed.
Now, the collapse of communism caused not only a vacuum of power, but a vacuum of education too. As communism destroyed all the other system of values, when the system itself disappeared, most people remained without guide marks. Now, young enough go abroad if the are a little skilled, or even without it. The others are not able to break the deadlock where Romania is now, either they are rich but swindler, or poor from whatever reason. Only the new generation will put to themselves the question what to do. Anyway, for a while, Romania will not be just a part of United Europe, but something similar with Mexico next to the USA.
In these days, taxes are so high in Romania, as if we have been the richest businesspersons in the world. As for the Romanian government, it seems to have a program in two stages for decreasing the income tax. In the first stage the income is to be decreased. The social situation is going from worse to evil. More and more people are cracking down. The gap between rich and poor will grow. This is not too bad; the worse is that between them - namely the middle class - is smaller and smaller, and just middle class gives the power of any country.
It remind me that in Iasi, the town of the years spent at the University, the tramway number 3 used to ply between the rail-station and graveyard, These seem to be the two alternative for most nowadays Romanians.
During the communist times, Romania and the other East European countries had all the necessary democratic laws, but not the democracy itself. There were parliament, elections, etc, but everything was perfunctorily, for sake of the affirmation the country is democratic. (If voting could really change things, it would be illegal, said somebody.) In fact, there was not the political will for a real democracy. On the contrary, after the Russians installed at the top of the country a team of politicians, that team installed its dictatorship. It is a stupidity to think that, in the same time, suddenly appeared dictators like Bismarck, in all these countries. The communist system yields "dictators" as symbols, but behind them there was a group of individuals joined by the will to be at power. Shortly, we had democratic laws, but not the democracy, because of the lack of political will.
Dictators are not always what they seem to be: authoritative, dour, definite people, with forward-looking conceptions. On the contrary, such people would not succeed to come in power. The other politicians would eliminate them from start. With several exceptions, particularly from old monarchies, in democratic countries, politicians without a strong personality succeed sooner, because the others do not consider them to be difficult adversaries, but some ones easy removable. A strong man is first eliminated, because he is uncomfortable. A weak man leaves the impression that he will be easy manipulated. Any politician thinks: "if I cannot be elected, x is preferable, because I can make him to play on my song".
This is the first step, and this was the way on which Ceausescu came in power in Romania. There were several much stronger politicians then, but a fight among them would have been dangerous for each of them. Consequently, they proposed and accepted the young and 'inoffensive' Ceausescu.
In the second stage, in time, he eliminated the old leaders one after another. As any stupid man, he removed also every capable person, and rally around himself only with flattering people. On the one hand, with every passing day, he thinks more and more to be a genius. On the other part, those around him "raise balls at net" accordingly to their interest. Apparently, he decides, so he is guilty for any mistake. In reality, there is an oligarchy behind, which prepares the chief's decisions. All the former communist East European countries were governed by oligarchies.
I am just inventing a definition of the communism: the hell where a society arrives when the socialist ideas are out of control.
The communist structures act on a similar way with some underground galleries, useful for people of the house, but unknown for the others. In other words, such governs are organised like Mafia. It is not surprisingly that today the same men are at power.
The struggle of people for social ideas is good, but with limits. Too many socialist ideas are like a virus. Unfortunately, people usually do not know where to put the limits. Socialism is a right way for ants, but not for mankind. "Ant colony" would be a caricature of the ideal socialist community.
As early as the antique times, one knew that people need bread and circus. They are the ingredients of any sure and quietly government. The communists gave only circus. With less and less bread, the circus itself become poorer and poorer and the performance clumsy. Finally, people got rid off the single actor, trainer and animal in the same time. Up till now, nobody offered bread without circus.
Coming back to the democracy, the question is if in western countries there is a real democracy, or it is as perfunctory as ours? In my opinion, it is not perfect, but is better then nothing. On the other hand, the absolute democracy means chaos. That's why equilibrium is necessary, and western countries know how to do it.
As for people, they are equal in front of the law, but not behind it.
A rich man who enters politics could become richer or poorer. That's why he will not take much risk. A poor man has nothing to lose, so that he will definitely embark upon the path of corruption, because something will remain in his pocket even after will pay, if he will ever pay, for his unlawfulness. These are politicians of undeveloped countries.
For being democrat, you must be rich firstly!
Now, from the political point of view, Romania is wanted in United Europe and NATO, because they would become larger and stronger, but from the economic point of view many groups of interests put up resistance. That's why the Romanian economy is not really helped to develop. On the contrary, they destroyed most part of them, for eliminate a potential concurrent. Some Romanian leaders received huge commissions for that. (We have corrupted men and the occident has the bribers.) On the other hand, Romania receives funds for making our market similar with that of UE, preparing in this way our join. But this money arrived in the pockets of the same corrupted leaders. In this way, the Romanian's population is divided in two: those very rich paid in dollars or Euro, and those very poor paid in national money. As more and more products will have European prices, in several years, common people's incomes will be close to zero, as medium income is about 100 dollars a month. What we build now is don a new democracy, but a "Demon-cracy".
Many people say that politics does not interest them. Me too, but since I feel its effects on my skin and in my pocket I can't help seeing that it exist. It is not an honest way to hide ourselves behind the mask of innocence. Embarrassing is that people benefiting by politics of their country pose as innocents. Of course, I cannot claim them to renounce at their advantages, because politics of their country is malefic, but I am going to be sick of their false innocence. I am not a fighter - never was - so that in depressing moments, I find a refuge in reading. It is pleasant, but I realise that it is abandon. Less awkward, but ... Yet, I am not a hero. Also, I wish to meet the American who leaves his job, because he realised that the products he works for are used in a to blame war.
The politicians are like ingredients in culinary art. One takes a potato that is far to be perfect, but it is peeled, all the defective parts are removed, it is washed, and finally it is thrown in the pot. Then, one takes a carrot, maybe less perfect, and follows the same way. Afterwards an onion, and so on! It depends on the cook's talent whether the soup will be tasted or not. The ingredients are not perfect. The politicians not at least, but their ensemble may give good results, if the cook is skilled enough. The cook is the nation, which knows better or worse to clean and mix the politicians and to boil them at small but long fire.
For do not be too malicious, here is a more positive comparison: a politician is like a bus driver: he is not the nicest, stronger, clever, or most educated, but people accept him as he promised to drive them up till the destination. Unfortunately, we are not quite sure about the destination.
Christianity brings an innovation. Unlike oriental faiths, where the Universe is stable and life is conceived in an endless cycle, in Christianity a being's life is unique. He has a beginning and, of course, an end. The idea of singleness has great moral implications. All people will go in front of the God for a final judgement. He will weigh everybody's deeds and will give him a new life in the heaven accordingly to his deeds. In this way, people's life gets a sense. They are no longer convict to have a miserable life forever. From some passive, apathetic persons, they have become active people. It could explain the progress of the Europe in the good sense but their bad deeds too (wars, colonial conquest, etc.). Is the Christian morale a good one? We can discuss it.
In oriental faith, the salvation is individual. Consequently, a good believer insulates himself from the society; he lives in seclusion. Its religion tells him to not make bad acts, but not to make good ones. Christianity did it. From this reason, Christian believers live together, as one could not be good to himself. He needs a receiver for his kindness.
Judaism and Christianity introduced the history: there was a beginning, and will be an end. Everything we do happens within this period of time, and we do it together. We are not some individuals living temporary in an infinite Universe, like in Hinduism. We live together in a limited period of time. Maybe we should think more about it. Man becomes man but by the community's virtues (Socrates).
Pray or meditation? The word 'meditation' does not have sense in Christian doctrine. It is peculiar for oriental faiths where people meditate for to purifying himself for a future life. A Christian does not meditate but prays. During his prayer, he implores God to help him. People without much will, lazybones, or dishearten implore more often God's help. Trustworthy people instead usually forget the God, thinking that they succeed by themselves. They remember him only before an important but uncertain trial. Then, they ask for God's help to overcome the moment, or to conquer an enemy, even if this battle is contrary to the Christian doctrine. It makes me to think that our emotional mood needs the faith. But is it just what God asks us to do? Of course, not! This is only priests’ desire.
As the Bible is unique, there is the impression that it is for all the people. Today, every book has an address: books of chemistry, books of geography, books for children, for grownups, etc. Nobody read a book that is supposed to not be addressed exactly to him. No one write a book without address. Just during an author is writing a book, he has in mind someone who will read his book.
Was God wrong thinking that Bible could be for all the people? No, God was not wrong, but when the Bible was written the number of those who were able to read was very small. They used to be the scholars of that time. Consequently, Bible had an exact address, just a very narrow one. They, those wise people, who were scholars, scientists and priests as well, should to read the Bible and convey its philosophy to common people, according to their understanding, using some reasons and parables for children, other ones for adults, some for ignorance and other ones for those with some knowledge. Even Jesus chose ordinary men as disciples, as he wanted to convey his teaching toward even more simple people. (The reciprocal statement is not true at all. Stupid people will never convey something to the others, not even religious ideas, despite of some neo-Protestant missionaries' pretensions.)
Much part of the Old Testament is history: the history of Jewish people. The modern historians and archaeological diggings have come to light that many facts reported in the book were true. As a matter of fact, the most part of the Old Testament, particularly its beginning, was written during the exile of Jewish in Babylon, when - feeling that they are lost - thought that it would be a pity if nobody learns about their history and life. Many times, the authors exaggerated some facts, flourished or described them in the form of fiction, as they, the authors, were writers and mostly priests. The Bible is a book of wisdom as well. Wisdom, what a great word! The all of us want to be wise persons, but nobody knows whether he really is. Whatever their opinion about themselves would have been, the authors of the Bible were some scholars of those times, and involved themselves as spiritual leaders. Some paragraphs were entirely written in a metaphoric style, just for sending a message. These ones made possible the freest interpretations.
The Bible itself is not homogenous. Some ideas are in contradiction with other ideas, if you read different chapters. We may have understanding for its authors. They had to change some old ideas with other new ones. As it usually happens, they could not do it suddenly and with accuracy. Not even we can do it. Some reminiscences from older mentality remain. Besides, the Bible was written by more than one author, in different periods of time. We can remark the way in which some ideas progressed in the authors' conception.
This remark is true as well in case you want to believe that Bible was written under the divine inspiration. You may accept then, either that God changed his ideas, or he has a plan and, from time to time, gives us lessons, accordingly to our evolution, or better both of them.
As all religions have a cosmogony, the priests tried to persuade us that Bible has one as well. I suppose that it was not conceived as a cosmogony, but a metaphor full of teachings, of moral consequences, being in this way a useful educational guide. Metaphor of what? Of an early period from their history! From it, the priests made a cosmogony, which - due to its naivety - has compromised the Christian religion entirely. Of course, God could not be like us. He should help us more if he is almighty. Then who was he for the Jewish people? Let's read the Bible!
In Genesis 27, it is said that "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground...". Not from mud, clay, or simple earth? It is not mentioned that he would use water. I think it had to be difficult to mould in dust. Is this a mistake, or an accidental expression? Not at all! From the next paragraph we learn that "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." So Eden has points of the compass. Interesting! From the paragraphs 10 to 14 we learn that "a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads". Their names are Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates. We can't help thinking that Eden is the old Sumer and what the Sumerian civilisation means for old times. Yes, Summer used to be a pleasing and charming place in comparison with the surrounding areas, namely exact what this word means in their language. God probably was a Sumerian king, who accepted a Jewish tribe on his territory for different works. This one seems to have been the best period from the Jews history. It was that king was God for them, their father, because he made them men. They were like dust and became like the Sumerians. This is the correct meaning when one says that God made man like him, and not that a divinity could look like us. As the Jews did not keep the arrangement and aimed upper than it had been allowed to them (testing from the tree of knowledge), the king expulsed them. More than it, God observing the sin committed by Adam and Eve, declared "… the man is become as one of us . . ." (Genesis 322). Consequently, God was not alone. He did not speak that man would be “like me”, but “like us”. He spoke in the name of the leadership of Sumer and accuses the Jews that exceeded their rights as employees, infiltrating themselves among the employers. We see now why in the whole history recorded in Bible, with all its details, Sumer does not appear at all. That's so because it was the beginning. It was the heaven. In the whole their history, the Jews do anything else but beg God's pardon, hopping to be accepted again in Eden's garden.
Also, archaeological proves shown Sumer to be the place where biblical deluge occurred. Sam, hence the adjective Semite, was the elder son of Noah. It is clear that old history of Jewish people crossed through Sumer, and it could not avoid it, but gave it a metaphoric sense.
Consequently, the Bible has not a cosmogony, and this is commendable for their authors. Priest’s stupidity has done one from this passage of history. Do you need a cosmogony? I can imagine a pseudo-cosmogony, but it will not be religious at all. Still it is not without morale. I shall write it, and so you will find it later.
Unfortunately, in the meantime, the wise priests disappeared and only simple ones have remained. This happened particularly during the Middle Age, when the clergy join with the political power and caught the test of power and richness. What happened afterwards has nothing in common with the genuine wisdom of Bible.
What is the situation today?
Nowadays, almost all people are able to read and write. But are they all prepared to understand the wisdom of the Bible? Is it enough to read the Bible? Surely, not! A tutor is necessary. Bible will always be the tutor's "manual of reference". The tutors first have to understand its spirit, because Bible must be understand in his spirit, not in its letter.
Yes, it is true that the apostles were illiterate. Just from this reason, they were the best for conveying Jesus' message inside the society where they came from. Literacy would of no use. On the contrary! Nobody would listen to them. But nowadays most people are able to read. Someone similar of an apostle would need to have some master degrees in several fields, probably.
Bible appeared in a certain historical period, when people used to have a certain mentality, some conceptions specific for that time, and were educated according to the doctrines of older religions. In order to make the new ideas understandable, the Bible had to use the language of that time, and needed to combat the bad customs of those times. Today, mankind is different. Not better, but different. The church ought to refer to our customs - good or bad - and to select from the Bible those parables that are still of nowadays interest, or match with our life's questions.
There are many reasons to read the Bible now. Here is one of them. The great masters painted mainly biblical scenes. As the most numerous old paintings feature biblical subjects, it is almost impossible to understand the history of the art, without knowing something about the Bible. But there are many deeper reasons. It is true, the Bible seems to be obsolete now, but this is not true. The priest did it putting the science against the faith. Science and faith may stay together, if we wisely interpret the Bible according to our real life.
Some things are easy understandable. For example, the Bible said that Jesus would come to the Earth and rule as a king. Why "as a king"? Because kings used to be the maximum that a man could be at that time, the maximum, which men could imagine. How would it sound if it had been said "as a president"? Ridiculous, of course! We say king, but understand the maximum of power and - maybe - wise. And so it happens with almost everything from the Bible. Consequently, let's speak about the signification and not about the story!
In ancient Greece, as people used to believe in gods, they were saying that Olympus is the place where gods live. But Olympus is a mountain not so high, and soon people climbed on its top. Then, the priests changed the expression and said that gods live somewhere far away, in a place like a mountain.
Such things happened many times, and the priests have to adapt the ideas to new discoveries, otherwise they lose their credibility. The first Christians believed that God is in Heaven, and the Heaven is in the sky. It was all right as long as the earth was thought to be a platter in the middle of the Universe. Now, the sky is vague definite and nobody is curious to know where the Heaven is. Unfortunately, the priests only in the 15th century hardly understood and accept to change their old ideas. Much too late! Their credibility had been already lost
Of course, nobody believes now in Mythology. But our ancestors did it. We must know the way in which they thought in order to understand them and their works. Also, we must know the most important fairy tales of people from wide world; they are filled with life philosophy.
Some major themes are to be found in any religion, like the deluge. They are the same, but with small differences. Just in those differences we could find deeper philosophical meanings of the religions. By understanding Mythology and Christianity we understand the development of our civilisation.
The human nature is described to be sinful. It is not only the Bible and Judaism that do it. Oriental faiths do the same. I often asked myself why? The single explanation that I found is the feeling of guiltiness of the parents, which know better when and how they conceived their children.
Fortunately, Christianity does not emphasize this idea, and say that Jesus sacrificed himself for it, so that we are responsible only for our mistakes, not for some imaginary ones. It would make us more responsible.
Jesus wanted to show to the people that we are able to fight against to our bad temptations. The Catholic churches are full with images of Jesus' sufferings, but they lost the message. The Orthodox Church was less influenced by occidental doctrine. Here, the Ascension is the central image. This is a more optimistic message: there is a future, therefore there is chance, Jesus will come again, but not a possessed, to massacre most people, as most neo-Protestants threaten us, but as the son of a well-intentioned God. Jesus gave us dignity to stand right, but responsibly.
The idea of an ancestral sin is an ancestral one itself. Most old religions contain it. The abandon of this idea is just one of the most important news that Christianity brought. Jesus died for it, consequently the problem is solved, and the topic is closed. To insist on this point means not to understand what Christianity really is. We are not indebted to make sacrifice for imaginary reasons. Instead, we are responsible for our mistakes. Peter says: "... your sins may be forgiven" (Acts 2:38). Yours and not some ancestral ones! Following Christ's way, we propose to ourselves not to make other mistakes. Jesus Christ gave us the dignity to stand right, but responsible.
Yes, God is forgiving; he always gives us a second chance, but, for it, we must repent and promise (to ourselves firstly) not to fall again in the mistakes, but to follow God's way.
One day, an American friend asked me whether I believe that Jesus is alive. Then, I avoid the answer, but the question must be analysed before answering. We first need to know if he imagines a Jesus like a man who lives somewhere and looks at us, or Jesus is a symbol for the entire Christian theology. In the first hypothesis, I am not the man chatting over this topic, but in the second the subject is quite inciting. For those who look the religion as a myth - true or false - the question is an essential one, maybe the most. It is not my case. I remember some years ago it was in fashion the question whether Shakespeare was a man, or an enterprise dealing with books, a publisher house in our terms. As I am not a historian, the question is not interesting for my point of view. I am interested in Shakespeare's works and not in his life. It was Schumann he wrote that only stupid musical critics speak about the composer, instead of his works. Another example, maybe just clearer, is the Marxism. There is not important at all if Marx was a great scholar, a tiny one, or just he would not existed at all. Instead, the Marxism marked the social and political life almost the whole XX century. It is the same with writers and, generally, with the creators from any other field, including Christianity. Yes, I am interested in Christianity and not whether Jesus is alive or not.
Maybe he is alive, or maybe not. Anyway, what is important is what he said to us. His message matters! Speaking about his life, it counts as a message too, because he used it as an example, as a way to convey his message to us.
Consequently, the question of the most importance is: what Christianity is? Or, more exactly, what the Christian theology is? It is difficult to answer seriously at this question, and probably people will never write enough books on this topic. Instead, they wrote lots of books with propagandistic purposes, for induce among the common people a convenient behaviour accordingly to priests' interests. Bible was intensely used and misinterpreted, which makes things more complicated, because any different idea is immediately rejected, just because it is different. Any religion is conservative.
Many times, maybe most times, the priests themselves did not understand the Christian message, or more probably did not want to understand. Why? Because their interest was not to guide people, to teach them, but to keep them at their disposal! That's why their recommendations sometimes were just in opposition with those of the Christian teaching. Often they embraced the older ideas, the pre-Christian ones, because such ideas are more useful and accordingly to priest's interests. Fear and humility are among their spurs. They changed the word 'idols' with 'God' but kept the same attitude in front of them.
Christianity gave us the humanism and the dignity, not the lack of them. As for the Apocalypse, this is a monument of non-Christianity.
Also, you must remark that people from throughout the world are God's children, and - if they are of different religions - this is so because God wants so. Consequently, there are not bad or right religions, but some different God's projects.
If we are as we are, there are two variants:
- This is God's will. (Consequently wee do not worry; if he wants us nitwits, we are on the right way.)
- We are out of God's control. (It would be dangerously. No matter what or who God would be, if we look our world as a part of a whole organism, any part does not exist independently; it rapidly decays.
Anyway, if God has put a curtain between he and us, we should keep respectful his will, and not try to imagine all kind of things occurring beyond the curtain. God shows himself to every of us accordingly to our imagination and understanding.
Coming back to the Bible, for me, it is an important book, maybe the most important, but I read it permanently wondering myself what was the genuine message of the authors, either under the divine inspiration or not.
But, what Christianity is? For understanding it, we have to look around and especially in the past. Thinking to the past, we must begin with the Old Testament, whence we learn about God in opposition with idols. It was a good step, but it was not the first at all. Before it, Jewish people conceived a God only for their nation, and made from Judaism a national religion. This was good for them, but not for the others. Why they did this way it is accountable, we can infer it, but this is their problem, and maybe their mistake. Christianity extended the concept of a God for all the nations and turned the attitude face to divinity from fear to love. The idols used to be pitiless and pretending immolation in order to gain their goodwill, while God is benevolent, benefactor and does not want immolation. He wants for us only to have a decent behaviour, because we are his children, and he is the Father.
Changing the God of Israel people into a universal divinity, the Christians turned the God into a new idol. The only difference is that God is not materialised into an object or a being. As for God's kindliness, even if it is frequently asserted, the Bible contains much more paragraphs destined to terrify the man, to implant in his soul the fear of a merciless final judgement of God. Guilty for all these are the priests. It is understandable too, as they preferred the old and verified method of fear in order to keep the people under their control. That's why we must discern between the genuine good intentions and the result, marked by some people's subsequent interest.
But the priests are not guilty only for these, and their mistakes provoked all kind of schisms, ending with all the sects that appeared in our time like the mushrooms after the rain. Almost all the people I talked with - belonging to no matter which sect - used to be ignorant enough not only concerning the religion, but also in history and all-round education, generally.
Is Jesus alive or not? The question comes again in my mind, even if I said that it is not so important. Some people ask if Jesus really existed as a human being. Roman documents do not mention him at all, or we know that in Roman Empire they used to record in official reports every remarkable event. Even this question is not so important, because what followed was what really matters - namely Christianity - with it priest as well. Jesus was not the Messiah expected by Jesus people (although Christos means messiah in Greek language) but surely he was the prophet of Christianity, which begins with him and find in his life its philosophy and morale. What it really counts is just this philosophy and morale.
The idea of a good divinity was not just new. The Greeks advanced it long time ago, and it would have been impossible for Jewish to not knowing it. The Apostle Paul himself was a Jew from Greece of that time (Tars of nowadays Turkey), and it was him who first made great efforts in his epistles to the Romans in showing that God is for all the people, not only for Jews. As for a good-hearted divinity, the Greek philosophers prepared people for it. If we study attentively the Mythology, beyond the stories, we shall find a humanist doctrine. Gods used to be like people, with human qualities and defects. They were only some more powerful ones. In the meantime, some Greek philosophers had risen against the gods' exaggerate power, wanting a more kind-hearted divinity. So was Aeschylus in his "Prometheus (Bound, Unbound and Fire-Bringer" and "Oresteia", and many others, long before Jesus Christ. The idea of a loving-people divinity used to be already present. "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom". It is not me who say this. It is written in 1 Corinthians 1:22.
Jesus was a prophet because he conveyed ideas from the philosophers to the common people. In this purpose he gave his life. This is generally a prophet: someone able to understand philosophy, and able as well to communicate with people, which common philosophers cannot. Socrates had already made the supreme sacrifice for his ideas. He was aware that only through his dead, his ideas will survive; and he accepted to drink the cup with hemlock.
It is true, Jesus Christ was a Jew from Palestine, but it was only the spark that arouses the fire. Christianity appears as a religion of poor people giving them a hope. Not far from the Palestine, Greece used to be under the Romans occupation too. It is not accidental that the apostle Paul was from Greece. Later on, the Jews kept the Judaic faith, while the Greeks adopted Christ's religion immediately. After Jesus, Christianity developed in wide world, firstly in Roman Empire, less in Palestine.
¶. Do you want to know what Christianity is? You must start from the older faiths and find out what is new. For example, unlike older faiths, where the divinities were menacing and revengeful, God is mild and forgiving. This is one of the most important characteristic features of the Christian theology. Doing such comparisons, you will understand more. Only on this way you will be able to understand what the Christian theology really is.
Maybe a part of the Bible was written under the divine inspirations, but surely not entirely. It is full of priests' wishes and ideas - some of them belonging to the Jews'. There were also many other writings. What was accepted to be "The Bible" is a selection of what some priests considered being opportune. As any human deed, it could be non-perfect. This is one more reason to read the Bible in an intelligent way.
Children know a lot about the Bible. But, in time, as they grow up, their faith diminishes. First, a child learns that Father Christmas, he who - after a thrilling waiting - gives him presents, and fills his soul with joy, he, Father Christmas himself was not a fabulous personage, but a well-known individual, and everything was only a little theatre, specially staged for children. After such a deception, it is almost a logical consequence to come to the conclusion that the whole religion is a story for children, in which he stops to believe when he no longer consider to be a child. Later on, when he learns at school that, in the name of Christianity, people made the greatest atrocities (Inquisition, crusades, etc.), and when he find by himself that some priests are not the most educated persons to be his masters, his faith is completely wiped off. The endeavour to preach the Bible to a grown-up only with some biblical stories and its threatening has no more chances.
For all that, the religion is still necessary. Where is the mistake? I think it is in the weak quality of the priests. They do only their duty of keeping the religious service. They ceased to be people's confessors, and most times have not the necessary intellectual level. They are not able to respond to the matters of the real life. The parishioners frequently are more educated.
Coming back to the children, the priests do not know how to preserve the contact with children when they learn that Father Christmas is not real, and to explain that any story has morale, and the morale is that which count. "God has established a moral code, which he wishes his children to adopt." It is Aeschylus who wrote this, five centuries before Jesus.
Nowadays European civilisation is considered to be a result of Christian doctrine. Is this assertion quit so true? Yes, and not! Europe was under the full Christian doctrine during the Middle Age. The subsequent development started at the same time with the Renaissance, and one of the main aims of the Renaissance was just to diminish the role played by the church. This aim was necessary due to the mistakes that Christian Church had made during the Middle Age. Among the most important ones, there are the edification of a rigid hierarchy of a pyramidal type and its implications in politics. That's why European people are no longer believers but in a small measure.
Firstly, we must note that the barbarians were not pagans. On the contrary, they were Christians, even more than the Romans were. In Roman Empire, Christianity had spread slowly, particularly among the poor people (because it is a religion of poor people), starting from the east toward west. Few people were Christians in its western part before the collapse. Besides, there was not a chief of Christian churches at that time; every bishop used to be independent. Instead, thanks to Wulfila, who invented an alphabet and translated Christian writings into the Goths' language. It were the Goths those who have spread Christianity in western occupied territories; it is true by sword more than by conviction.
After the collapse of Western Roman Empire, the barbarian tribes, generally of German origin, invaded its former territory. In that vacuum of power, the military chiefs built small fortresses, from where they dominated the area. In time, the fortresses became citadels and castles, and the successors of former military chiefs considered to be the owners of the surrounding lands. We are in full feudal epoch. Several centuries, there were not great dangers for them; nobody threatened them, as toward the west the ocean was a natural border, and as far as the eastern barbarians there was a large distance, within other people, like the Romanians, had to fight against. Of curse, small fights existed as anywhere, but they looked more as some disputes inside of the family than real wars.
The feudal lords did not feel the need of wearing the title of king. It was Pepin the Short, who had the idea of crowning himself as King of the Franks. Why? Because, in the meantime, the first real danger appeared, under the form of Arabian expansion, and his father, Charles Martel, succeeded in persuade his neighbouring lords to fight together against a common threatening, and did it in the battles of Poitiers and Tours (732). Thanks to his father's merits, the son thought he deserves to wear the title of king. Of course, nobody paid attention at him then, but some years latter, the Martel's nephew is no one else but Charlemagne, which wanted to be emperor. But this is another story.
Later, Charlemagne, shaking hands with the bishop of Rome, reached two aims: he was recognised as emperor by the church, and the bishop, as Pope and chief of occidental church. Charlemagne was illiterate, and the empire disintegrated itself after his death, but the idea remained. It was the church that goes on it farther, made from Charlemagne a saint, a great emperor, etc. Soon, occidental church separated itself under the name of Catholic Church, in this way the Pope becoming the single chief of the occidental church, and that who may anoint kings. As for the kings, they were considered to be of divine origin. As a matter of fact, they bring again the ancient faith, more profitable for leaders, this time under the name of Christianity, even if Jesus' doctrine was quite opposite, proclaiming the equality of every person in face of God. But the real Christian doctrine could not be pleasant for kings and a hierarchical church. Their wish of power was as great as the Eastern Roman Empire used to be still alive under the name of Byzantine Empire, but weaker and weaker, while the occidental Europe became more and more powerful.
Yes, the religion is necessary. Firstly, for the weak ones, who need a support to keep themselves in psychological equilibrium! Most of them already are believers in not mater that church, like Eric. At the other extremity, the too strong ones are. Those thinking to be their own Gods, they have theoretical just more need of religion, for moderating their ambitions, but they do not know it. The threatening with Apocalypse and God's punishments sounds ridiculous in their ears. From the nowadays churches, they are lost for long time. There needs to be other means for persuading them. But how to do it with the nowadays ministers of the religion? They are not able to understand their own words. With them, the religion has not the smallest chance. They would bury definitive any religion.
For about 500 years ago, the Protestantism appeared in Europe, trying to surpass the mistakes of Catholic Church. After about 500 years, people's faith in priests did not increase. Consequently, they did nothing, so they are not better. What is the worst, after the first Protestants' model, lots of new ones appear permanently without any religious idea. They say the same slogans and do not see they all are similar one another, or do not want to see. If it is proved that religion was inefficient from this point of view, why it insists? That means it was and is efficient in a different way. Which one? Well, it was certainly useful in politics as an instrument for manipulating people. It is useful today yet as an instrument for separation and split people and spread hatred among them, according to the principle: "Divide et Impera".
Most part of the success of the Reform is due to the invention of the printing. People used to be eager to print anything, and religious topics were being in fashion then.
Anyway, the first Protestants had a doctrine, logic and reasoning. They even believed in their thoughts. The neo-Protestants instead have nothing but hate to each other. As for their doctrine, it is limited to the idea that Jesus will come again and will punish all the people, except those belonging to their particular sect.
Using the Bible like a scarecrow, hoping that, frightening the people, they will become more religious is not a productive way in our years. We are not in the Middle Age. ("Odd is this grimness with which some people keep obstinately us to be sinners. I do not like the quacks wanting by all means to make me think that I would be ill for selling their remedies". Voltaire said it.) The key of Christianity is goodness, not fear, rational reasoning, not that "believe and don't search". A church apart from the science does not live. Many scientists are believers, but most priests do not understand how that is possible, because they understand nothing.
Where the mistake lies? From the beginning, we must discern between the two ways of the propagation of Christianity:
· Step by step, by conviction, among the poor people, starting with the apostles and the following missionaries. This was the characteristic way in the first four centuries, inside the Roman Empire. The biblical message used to be optimistic: there is a future life, therefore a hope. It depends by our will to make it happy. God is kind and forgiving. (In Byzantine churches Jesus Christ is featured during the Ascension, giving an optimist message, as he promised to come again in a happy kingdom.) This was the genuine message of Christianity.
· With sword, by imposing and constraints, starting with Goths' invasions and, afterwards, by Catholic Church. Besides sword, their arguments were the frightening and intimidation. God ceased to be kind hearted. On the contrary, people were threatened with the Apocalypse and all kinds of punishments. Because kings were considered to be God's representatives on the earth, people have to glorify the God, but the kings too and obliged to raise hymns. (In Catholic churches, Jesus is featured mostly during his passions. The only message is that, if he suffered, we have to suffer too. The penitence would be the only way.) The priests have lost the main Christian ideas, lost Jesus' message of love, and the religion became a mean in the politician's hands. Priests serve no longer the religion, but use the religion for their own interests.
It would seem that the old Greek Orthodox Church is better. I do not think so! It only did not have the same opportunities. Let’s do a little history!
At the beginning, there was not a chief of Christian Churches. There were several great bishoprics, and their chiefs met several times in the so-named "ecumenical councils", but they never chose a leader. It would not be on their line of thoughts at that time. Christianity was spreading from Palestine firstly in Greece and easy, easy in the whole Roman Empire. There were lots of religions in that huge Empire, and no one was dominant. After the splint of Roman Empire in Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (known as Byzantine Empire), and the collapse few years latter of the Western Roman Empire, the things changed. In the Byzantine Empire, Christianity became the official religion. Of course, the role of the bishops from Constantinople (the capital) became more and more important, but he was not a chief, yet. On the other hand, thanks to the bishop Wulfila, Christianity was spread among the Goth tribes. Goths, Ostrogoths, Vizigoths and the other tribes, conquering the western part of the former Roman Empire, carried Christianity directly in the western part of the Europe.
In time, while the Byzantine Empire was decreasing more and more under the stress of the eastern barbarians, the western part of the Europe was developing. In the year 800, Charlemaine gave hand with the bishop of Rome, accepting to be crown as emperor by the bishop. His empire was a fiction; after his death the empire disappeared, but he marked the idea of the alliance between king and the bishop of Rome, who was recognised as chief: the Pope. From this moment on, Catholic Church became a centralised, hierarchical organisation, where the interests of the leaders, and the rules imposed by them, smother the genuine faith. (This explains the future apparition of the protesting cults and sects.) Catholic Church and politics are inseparable. As for the balance of the power between East and West, it changed in favour of West. The Occident became more and more powerful, so that Byzantine emperor and his bishop became obstacles in their ambitious way. In the year 1054, the Great Schism occurred. As the Occident had a chief, the Pope, the Orient needed one, so that the bishop of Constantinople became the Patriarch, but he never had the same role.
In time, Orthodox Church has spread toward the East (including Russia), while the Catholic one has spread throughout the world, thanks to the colonial conquering.
As it was expected, few people know the expression "Cyrillic alphabet". They know only that the Russians use a different alphabet, belong of Christian Orthodox faith and, as a consequence, they think that Cyrillic and the Orthodoxy came from Moscow. A rougher error would be hard to find. In reality, Cyril was not Russian at all. He was born in Thessaloniki (Greece), then part of Byzantine Empire, and lived between 827 and 869. At that time Russia does not exist yet. The Byzantine Empire instead, used to be the most powerful Christian centre in the world and the single educated area from the Europe. It was the place where, during 1000 years, people preserved, next door to the darkness of the occidental Middle Edge, the value of the Hellenism and Roman civilisation, up till the dawn of the Renaissance. The Renaissance itself was in a great measure the creation of the Byzantium, as the intellectuals from Constantinople are those who, for fear of Turkish, took refuge in Italy, the ideal place for remaking antic traditions. Together with his brother, Methodius, Cyril preached Christianity in Moravia (now the eastern region of Czech Republic), among the people speaking a Slav language. For them he invented the alphabet with his name and translated the books of the New Testament. For Russian, both Christianity and Cyrillic alphabet have come much later, from west toward the east. Even in Ukraine, much to west than Moscow, in Kiev, the famous Pecerskaia Monastery has become famous thanks to Petru Movila, a Romanian bishop. Russia's development started much later and it was the communist propaganda that exaggerated its role. Cyril died in Rome.
Now, as the church – any church - has no power, the genuine way is possible again. People ask themselves what Christianity is. By the way, what it is? Let's see, shortly!
¶. Some days ago, I met some young Mormons who came in Romania to make proselytes. As a matter of fact, they stopped me in the street. Since then, I met them several times, as I am curious to know what they say, why they try to convert Romanian people - who are Christians for about 2000 years - and in which way they hope to do it. I am interested in religion generally, as part of the culture and civilisation. As a European I am particularly interested in Christianity, whatever would be the church that preaches it.
I do not discuss now their cheekiness. Most of them have become missionaries as an alternative to the military service. That's why they come here for a period of two years. They proved to be incapable in their own life, but want to teach others. That reminds me of an old caricature featuring a beggar inviting people to buy a booklet for learning how to become a millionaire.
We can wonder why the American government absolve them of carrying out the military service, under the condition to go oversees for make proselytes, but everyone knows that politics is, and always was, perfidious and immoral. And even these young boys are not as so faithful as they do a job. Is this job a religious or apolitical one? It is almost the same, so that it is useless to know.
¶. I have just got rid off the Mormons, and another sect found me. The Christadelphians! I do not know how, from time to time, some booklets appeared in my mailbox, inviting me to contact them. By curiosity (they came from England), and for practising English, I did it. Their "doctrine" pretends to be a Christian one, but it is as simplistic as non-Christian. The main idea is that Jesus Christ will come back to massacre (this word is mine) all the heathens and make masters of the world, of course, the Christadelphians. First, this idea is not new at all. Besides, its "morale" is immoral. Even their booklets are written in perfect English, the authors did not understand a bit about what the Christian doctrine is, or do not want to. Instead they are extremely stubborn in preaching their slogans. In reply, I wrote several very hard letters. I thought they would abandon me. Bah! Without answering my subjects, they went on writing the same slogans. I came to the conclusion they are not believers at all. They have an aim, a target, and follow their way unscrupulously. As for their morale ... I think Hitler was more honest. He probably really believed in his idiot doctrine.
¶. There are lots of missionaries from all kinds of sects on the streets of Brasov, stopping you, and most of them come to our doors. All of them, and particularly the young Mormons, are like children wanting to teach their parents how to make children. Christianity was born here. Not just here, in Brasov, but in Jerusalem, not so far away from here. To be more exactly, at about 1500 Km, namely the distance between Seattle and Los Angeles. Thanks to the apostle Andrew and his followings, our ancestors became Christians as early as the first years. During the centuries, the Romanians had to fight against the pagans to keep the Europe Christian. The Romanians are born Christians as nation and are Christians as individuals, willingly or unwillingly, because they are educated in Christian spirit, in Christian morale. For the Romanians, religion is more poem and symbol. It is that "love your fellow man as yourself", which supposes the correction of our primary sentiments. What neo-Protestants propose instead? Scare and fright?
I talked with many religious propagandists, but none of them was able to say something about the essence of Christianity. Instead, all of them stoutly allege they are not only number 1, but also the single real Christian believers, and all the others are wrong.
Only the diseases are contagious, not the health. What we receive from the missionaries could not be soundness.
They understand nothing either from religion and its history as well.
Religion and philosophy have in view the same problem: people’s attitude face to the being. While philosophy analyses it, religion pretend that it has already found it. When philosophy pass beyond of its limits and gives solutions, they are some utopian ones. Their last implementations were the Nazism and communism. The solution of the religion is a virtual one. It cannot be implemented; instead, it offers a psychological support in real world.
When religion says: „believe and do not search for”, it looks like politics. When it says that our duty is a permanently look for God’s way, namely not to go blindly, then it becomes philosophy.
Some people need religion and it as a pity that churches are no longer able to do their duty. Generally speaking, people perceive the religion in different ways, according to their nature. At the extremities, there are:
- Those with weak will. They need help and implore the divinity's support for this. They do not want to understand but to believe, because the belief absolves them to make any effort, and gives them a reason for life. Such a religion looks like a narcotic that yields dreams of happy man.
- Those with too much will, usually avid of the power. They take advantage of the religion in order to handle those from the first category. The one, who thinks he is above the God, soon will think he is above the rules and the other people.
Between the two extremes, there are those more or less balanced trying to understand and take from the religion as much matches with their understanding.
An atheist is not necessarily an idiot. The statistics may prove the contrary. On the other hand, any intelligent person uses intelligent arguments. As priests do not like intelligent reasoning, they prefer to consider any intelligent person to be atheist.
I can admit the message of God's word is timeless, but its expression is necessarily a subject to refinement as things move on. That's what the priests do not understand.
Any philosophic, moral, ethic, or economic doctrine can be defined only face to the others, showing what is different, what it brings as new. The communist propagandist used to preach their doctrine, saying that all the others are wrong, so that we should not learn but the Marxist-Leninist doctrine. In religion, it is the same: the priests are like the communist propagandists. They have too few ideas and are not able to discuss anything else but some slogans and small stories. As we, the Romanians, did not used to believe the communists, people do not believe the priests.
Blaise Pascal, mathematician and physicist, considered to be one of the great minds in intellectual history, became in the second part of his life a fervent Catholic believer. He entered the Jansenism community and led a rigorously ascetic life until his death. Of course, most of us wonder "how was that possible?" A more attentively reading of his works shows us that his change was not an abrupt one, and it was not accidentally at all. As a matter of fact, it was not a change, but a process. Here is one of his declarations: “… I spent many days studying abstract sciences, but the rather small number of people to whom one can communicate in the scientific field had disgusted me. When I started the study of man, I saw that these abstract sciences are not specific to him and that, penetrating in them, I was deviating from my condition more than those who were ignoring them". It seems that the idea of communication was in fashion at those times. Spinoza said: "My aim is to reach a high nature and endeavour that many others to get it together with me. I cannot be happy if I do not endeavour that many other people to know, exactly like me, so that, their intellect and wish to correspond to my intellect and wish." But Spinoza was neither Christian nor believer, but an excommunicated Jew. Coming back to Pascal, he understood that, by means of religion, his life would be more complete. Obviously, he perceived the religion at higher level than he could do it before studying abstract science. (The same thing happens nowadays with more and more people, as they learn abstract sciences as early as in school.) Due to its high scientific position, Pascal had become more and more alone. He found out that church might be for him a better way of communication with as much people as possible.
So, the lack of communication was Pascal’s problem. The dialog with people is what he hoped to improve by entering the Covent of Port-Royal-des-Champs. Besides, he never wrote the promised “Apologie de la religion Chrétienne” (Apology of the Christian Religion), which should had been his main religious work, not because he would not time, but probably because of too many uncertainties. The single remains of what the Jansenists asked him are the “Pensées”. More than it, it was Arnauld and the others from Port Royal who edited this collection of maxims, after Pascal’s death. Of course, we are entitled to suppose that they filtered Pascal’s row material, according with their will and interests.
Also, it is interesting, maybe even amusing, another example of oscillation between an idea and its opposite. The Jansenists were adepts of St Augustine, who fought against the Pelagianism, a Greek morale trying to reconcile faith with rationality. But, after St Augustine had vanquished Pelagius, he realised that his former antagonist was right. You cannot ignore the rationality, which is in us immanently, and also you cannot trust only in an illusion. The defenders of St Augustine’s doctrine, I think to the Jansenists, call Pascal to help them. But he knew that one could use rationality for fighting again rationality. With such a man, who thinks so much, who is above both the faith and the rationality as well, the Jansenists had many difficulties. That’s why they censored Pascal’s works, and now we have only a little from his philosophy.
The problem was a good topic for disputation between Luther and Erasmus as well. How could one trust in a super-being so capricious who saves so few people and convict much many without any motivation? He does not give us any rational rule. If God gives the salvation to some people and refuses it to some more faithful ones, who will endeavour to keep the law. What law? Could “De Libero Arbitrio” be a law?
Pascal knew that, if you do not accept the reasoning you are stupid, but if you believe in nothing you will lose your soul. His philosophy could not be but contradictory. But, maybe just this is the reason of its actual interest.
¶. Life, in old philosophic thought, has a cyclic character. Even the Greeks did not go far away from this conception. They invented a beginning of mankind, but not an end. Judaism did that, but they invented also the messianic idea, according to which somebody will come to make them masters of the world. In this way, Judaism is more a national creed than a universal religion. Besides, from the philosophical point of view, its morale is not much different: the same blind obedience in the face of fate, the same lack of will to change something by one's own effort. That which has carried the idea up till its last consequences was Christianity: The God is for all the people, and the future is in our hands. It has given to men a chance, and man has become dignified. He is a fighter for his own future. The Arthurian Legends were fundamental for European education. In a symbolic way, Lancelot turns his life from a careless one (Live the moment!) into a man able to make the supreme sacrifice for a noble dream. I do not know if it was a good idea, (maybe yes) but this was the theoretic education of any knight. Besides, man does not fight alone, but together with God's other children, like a family. The searching for the Holy Grail symbolises the endeavour of putting questions about the sense of life, of seeking the truth.
Before making known his ideas, Jesus had to persuade his contemporaries that he was God's son. For this purpose, he needed to perform some miracles, and he did so. If he were to come in our time, when nobody believes in wonders, he should do things according to the mentality of the people today. That’s why, priests using Jesus' arguments now, are similar to those pretending to be his adepts only by wearing sandals through snow under -20 Celsius degrees, because Jesus used to wear sandals. What is important is Jesus' message, not his sandals.
¶. It was Plato who deals with the relations between man and divinity. Speaking about divinity, he does not have in view a being of cult, but the idea of well. Plato syllogism is" Well is equal to Supreme Virtue". I did not mention Plato accidentally; he is considered to be the first systematic theologian, with the mention that he does not invite us to belief but to enter into dialogue.
Hellenism did not disappear yet. We, the Europeans, are its products. Greek culture separated the humanist Europe from tyrannical Asia. (Only the Russian communism tried to mix them, without success.) Asia was tyrannical in politics, while Europe humanist in culture. Unfortunately, politics rarely had anything in common with culture, so that there is not so much difference between East and West.
Unlike the myth of perpetual returning of the Greeks, Christianity brings history, and gives it a sense: salvation. (Mircea Eliade analyses these ideas very well in one of his books, entitled "The Myth of the Eternal Return".) Unhappily, Christianity cancels any evolution after the Final Judgement that will put it at an end. "When the Messiah will come, mankind will be saved once for ever, and history will cease to exist". This seems to come back to the condition of primitive man, for which time does not exist, without speaking about the evolution, or history. Primitive man, like animals, lives for the moment in a perpetual continuum. Christianity seems to suggest a returning to the "lost paradise of the animal".
Oriental faiths, looked at from Europe, seem to be more inclined to philosophy, while Christianity pays much attention to small stories. And still, the great modern philosophies belong to Europe. Yes, but only after Rationalism overcame Christianity. Or maybe just Christianity stimulated the birth of Rationalism, due to its exaggerations.
Socrates was the one who discovered the Rationalism. People from the old times used to have many gods, half-gods, heroes, etc. From this reason, they were more responsive, more ready to accept alternative possibilities. They had larger conception. After several centuries of the black religious Middle Age, the whole European cultural evolution was under the Rationalism sign, culminating with Descartes, Leibnitz, Newton, etc. But Rationalism has its limits. I am not the first to say it. Jose Ortega y Gasset has shown it repeatedly. Communism is also an exaggeration of democratic ideas, as democracy has its limits too.
Rationalism holds history, with its way to the progress, but ignores the end of Christian theology. Progress seems to be infinite. Unhappily, between a previous future and a later one, we seem to be a tiny infinite. And still something remains: the hope. The ancient people named it better: soul, which is going to be up-to-dated as spirit. Man never accepted that he is only a decaying body, so always sought for something transcendental, surviving him, so all our aspirations have in view something eternal, if possible.
¶. The basic law of nature is the struggle for existence. As an alternative, civilised society recommend moral norms, mostly theoretical, often unrealisable, sometimes idealist and usually naive. The wisdom of reconciliation of the two extremes belongs to common people, whose real life occurs in a dialectical equilibrium of the contraries. Due to their position, priests are speakers of the moral extremity. They cannot say to the parishioners they should be 1/2 believer, but only repeat endless the same small stories. The question is what happens when they take it all seriously. In the first stage, some maladjusted, unhappy people result. In the second stage, such easy-manipulating people are turned into robots, among which suicide-terrorists are only examples.
Unfortunately, mankind went even beyond the limits, and through democracy and socialism invented communism too. Yes, communism before to be a political system, was a religion, or at least wanted to be. As a matter of fact, this was the reason why the first Russian communist leaders forbade any other religion, except Marxism-Leninism doctrine as their single new bible.
From the "Man is nothing more than a shadow of a smoke: (Aeschylus) to the "Man as creator", mankind crossed the entirely spectrum.
¶. Willing or not, any religion has implications in morale. For those who are not quite bigots, the morale is just the main purpose of any religion. Thinking in this way, Christianity is that which gave us dignity. We are no more some offal fall from the Universe, as it happens in oriental faiths, a kind of wrecks, but God's children. Besides, we are equal in front of God, therefore equal to one another. This is the beginning of the real democracy.
It is true that the ancient Greeks invented this word, democracy, with the meaning of the government by the people, and they really did it, but not for all the people. Their society was a slave-owning one; people were divided in social classes, with different rights. Democracy used to be for the upper classes. This mentality was in a perfect accord with their mythology, where gods, like people, had different powers, according to their position in the genealogical tree, starting with Uranus and Gaea, the first ones, and Zeus, the almighty one (but not in front of women. Smile!).
As every religion has its Deluge, Greek Mythology has one as well, but its final is a little different. Zeus, being angry with people, decides to kill them, so that he unleashed the waters. But Prometheus, even chained on Mount Elbrus, used to have the gift of foreseeing, and he advised his son, Deucalion, to make a boat and row as far as the mount Parnassus, the highest. Deucalion took his wife, and did what his father had taught him. After water' withdrawal, they were the only people on earth, exactly like Noah from the Bible. Hence, all people have them as ancestors. The difference is that, in the Greek Mythology, besides Deucalion's heirs, there is another kind of people: accordingly to a dream, going down from the mountain, they threw back in their trace all the stones they met in the way; from every stone, immediately, a man rose. Consequently, there are two categories of people: the natural heirs of Deucalion and those born from the stones.
As for the general idea of classifying in gods, heroes and people, this could be seen as a motivation for monarchies.
Coming back to equality between people, it is clear now that Christianity is that which does it for all the people, and Jesus' sacrifice has born fruit, even after centuries. A joke says “the proof that faith is from God is that it resists against the priests”. The President Lincoln's "The Gettysburg Address" proved that the idea of democracy is now part of our conscience. He began by saying "... all the men are created equally" and ended with the words "... this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people..."
There are two trends in religion.
God's promise is an optimistic one: if we follow his guidance, our future will be a happy one. And his promise is approachable because he is kind and not capricious. People are his children, and he, as every parent, loves his children. Consequently, our task does not consist any longer of invoking the mercy and help, but to follow the guidance. As the sportsman does not implore his coach to bring him a great performance on the plateau, but works under his guidance, in the same way, we do not ask God to give us something for which we did not work. That's why it is demagogical to ask God to fulfil our wishes, and as a reward, to raise to him glorifying hymns. First, we should ask ourselves if our wishes are quite correct. This is what church should give us: some criterions to judge our purpose and acts.
A bird coming to peck from our palm is not mild, as we are tempted to think, but cheeky. Also, when we ask God to help us too frequently, we are not his obedient children; we are cheeky. The God's glory is ensured without our everyday hymns. Coming from our part, the glorifying hymn sounds like flattery, as disgusting as, afterwards, an appeal follows. God, help me please! And we ask his help for anything, even if our demands are not always just some Christian ones.
I have just remembered a joke. Two Jews at the Wailing Wall, in their characteristic style, were beseeching God to help them. One of them, poorer, was content with some food for his children. The other, a rich man, was asking help in the succeeding of a large business, which he was going to start. Disturbed by the first one, the rich proposed him: "Look here! Here is some money, go and buy some food for your children, and leave God to think quietly about important things.
Jesus' message was resumed in the recent times, because nowadays people understand deeper his message, beyond the ritual and legend, maybe even in the philosophical plan. It is said that Middle Age was a religious period, but it succeeded more in estranging people from the church. Instead now, people come around the church from their own initiative, and - most important - with or without church, they assimilate the Christian morale. How is that? Well, the democracy is a Christian idea. I know it seems odd, and many people would say that it is a Greek word, but it is not in contradiction with my "theory". Maybe I will write about it one day, but now I think how church arrived in this deplorable situation, to lose its believers.
The faiths are responsibly not only for their direct issues, but also for the secondary ones. Thus, Christianity is directly guilty for the alienation of the man from the nature, but also because, trying to make man better, it made him worse. God asks man to be good with each other. Everyone can be good to another man, but not to himself. The Final Judgement will put in the balance what everyone did to the others. In this way, people are linked each other, interested one another. Christianity joins people together, but - being together - they reach to do wrongdoing faster than good deeds. People seldom join themselves for good deeds. Much frequently the malefactors do common "business". Meantime, they have built a competitive society, where people could not live without a little wickedness. The society built on the competition is the Europe's invention, consequently an outcome of Christianity. Maybe a secondary, unexpected one, but it clearly is one of its effects.
But the most dramatic effect is the communism. I know this statement is more than shocking. Let's see! I already showed that democracy is an outcome of Christian theology. It is a small step to see that communism is an exaggeration of the idea of democracy. It is a degenerated democracy. Consequently, the communism is a secondary effect of Christianity.
FROM CHRISTIANITY TOWARD DEMOCRACY, COMMUNISM
AND BACKWARD TO RELIGION
Many times in history an idea becomes evident firstly through its opposite, until people thoroughly understand its profound meanings. Let us follow a thread that seems to be logic. In the Bible, they say that people are equal in face of God, whence the conclusion according with people are equal with each other. If things are so from the moral point of view, then from the social and politic point of view the solution seems to be the democracy with its ideal: the communism.
Maybe just this consequence frightened the scholars of old times, because after the appearance of the Christianity it was not a period of democracy to follow, but on the contrary one of absolute monarchy joined with the church. Theoretical, with the Christian church! This was the first great lie, because the doctrine preached by the church of the occidental Middle Age was simply the opposite of Christian principles. Instead of a loving-people God, the church threaten with the apocalypse; instead of some preoccupations for a life on God’s spirit, of the seeking of the God’s way, the church recommend only prays, devotions and glorifying hymns. In fact, it was a returning to the belief in idols, previous even to mythology, but preferred by a monarchic state, in which the king used to pretend to be a representative of God on the earth and claimed glorifying hymns for God and for himself as well. Only after the couple church-monarchy collapsed because of its own exaggerations, people began to realize the real sense of the Bible, and wanted democracy. A predicable exaggeration followed too, this time of the democracy, an exaggeration that received the name of communism. And, the leaders of communism thought that their doctrine is a religion as well, and rashly made haste to eliminate the church, sometimes even with brutality, particularly in Russia and the countries invaded by it.
After almost a century of communism, Russian people is today more religious as any one from the Christians. And, unlike the majority of protestant churches and the Catholic one, which are more or least implied in politics (even if they declare the contrary), the Orthodox believers are sincerely faithful, because - such as first Christians - they kept the religion against the will of the politicians from their countries. I said Orthodox people, and not Orthodox Church, which has its sins too, even if not so great. (I think to its traditionalist ritual and particularly to the lack of communication between the priests and the parishioners.)
An establishment is sure: people need religion.
Somewhat here we are now. Whither do we make our way? Whither it would well to do? For knowing it, we should careful analyse the steps made before, trying to learn something from history, which we did not do too much so far.
Italian Renaissance was that that launched the emancipation of spirits from the monarchic-religious doctrinaire stress of Middle Age. (It seems unexpected that first book about communism as a social ideal – Thomas More’s Utopia – was written in the opposite part of Europe, in England. It is true, the mother of Renaissance was Italy and its father the Byzantine intellectuals driven away from Constantinople by the Turks, but neither the Italians nor the Greeks do not have appetite for social matters. From democracy to tyranny, they had known the glory and decline not only once, but very many times. They are tired nations. The satisfactions of the soul attract them more than some political ambitions.)
But why so far away, just in north? The question may be interesting as it was not only Thomas More. The majority of the following communist doctrinaires were from north, as well as the first implementation in Russia. Would be the cerebral vessel-constriction provoked by cold the guilty? Leaving the joke aside, we can find an explanation in their inexperience of democratic practice that allowed them to give free scope to their imagination. The Greeks would not do such things, not only because they had the practice of democracy – either slave-owing or not – but they knew the relation creator-man is not a reciprocal one, and also they had have several philosophers who taught them the rationalism much before Descartes, among the others that any idea must be verified experimentally before advancing another one, which issues from the first. The communism is the product of the imagination out of control. Thomas More had at least the common sense to entitle his book Utopia, promoting thus the idea that what he recommend exists nowhere (u-topos = without place). Only Marx believed that it would be possible, and Lenin found even its place.
After Renaissance, occidental Europe did as much democracy as they can. (Not as much as they use to speak about) It is their worth for not going too far, beyond some reasonable limits. Instead, there were some doctrinarians that said: “You dine nothing. We are the ones saying what you should do, and will do”. And some just did it; but not in occident. Russia was a more propitious country for it. What happened we seen!
As one may see, when we issue an idea, we ought to think not only to its immediate consequences, but also to its possible deviations. Unhappily these ones are so numerous and unexpected that we should be afraid of any new social idea. (It is rather disheartening this remark!) Happily, there still is a solution: the feedback, but it is not to politicians’ liking, as it obliges them to recognize their mistakes. That’s why the solution is to learn how to correct our mistakes in time, and not too late. In this regard, the occidental democracies succeeded so far, while the former USSR did not.
How it is that that democracy as ideal was turned into communism? Simply! As democracy means the participation of the majority, from majority to unanimity is only a step. The name of this step is universal suffrage. As all the people elect, the politicians built an electoral propaganda destined to attract the crown, no matter how stupid and ignorant they are, as they are majority. More stupid, easier to be manipulated! From this moment on, the lie has become the watchword. For several hundreds of years we live in lie. Our social failures should not wonder us any longer.
In the meantime, the politicians have become more refined, more subtle: they offer as liberty what they are ready to offer. They have learnt how to create illusions. As in commerce the launch of a product is preceded by the publicity in order to prepare the customs, in the same way, in politics, people is prepared, educated, indoctrinated to want for themselves what the politicians want, to take as liberty what the politicians want to sell. In this regard, the USA is the country with the best results. At the opposite pole the former USSR are, which became former just because did not know how to create illusions. Not because they would not try, but on the contrary, because they exaggerated, so that nobody gave credit to the official propaganda, any longer.
The main difference between the USA and the former socialist (communist) countries consist in the fact that, while in the USA people still belief in democracy, the others have overrun this stage long time ago. There are three causes:
- The ability of the American propaganda, in contrast with the Russian one;
- The historical experience of European people, in contrast with the naivety of the Americans;
The USA’s economic prosperity (still capitalist), in contrast with the inefficacity of the socialist one, which make people to prefer the USA, no matter of their political, religious, or any kind of other convictions. Otherwise, this last criterion is enough.
A socialist country does not last. The cause is the education. Children learn that honesty, working hard, loyalty, etc, are not profitable. The society does not promote its capable citizen, but the leaders’ progenies and flunkeys. In this way, the next generation leads the country toward the disaster.
The former USSR would collapse at the middle of the 20th century. The Second World War saved them. Then, all the people were motivated, they have a reason to work seriously, and the country became one of the most developed on in the world. Unfortunately, during the war, the generals became the most powerful men. This is why, after Stalin’s death, only a short period of relaxation followed, because the generals imposed their regime soon. Brezhnev was not a dictator, but the generals’ man, and the USSR a military country. (The USA had the same problem, but he American civil society succeeded in removing the most ambitious generals.) But, as I said, an oligarchy lasts only one generation. The generals got old or died. People from the next generation were no longer motivated and the economy crashed. This is the real reason of the USSR collapse.
Yes, the belief that communism is something promising is wrong. Both socialism and communism are words defining an ideal political system. In fact a utopian one! We may ask why the eastern democracies dropped so fast, what was wrong, or what were the differences face to the Occidental countries? We can find some explanations to these questions only regard the past, but the morals are for the future because such perils are possible whenever there is a democracy. A common saying is: "The wise man learns from the other's experience; the fool not even from his own." An ideal is a theoretical notion. It does not exist in reality. Society belongs to nature, and nature is not perfect. It is contradictory, complex, uncertain, unforeseen, and in perpetual motion. Nobody could control it perfectly. Trying to suddenly build a perfect society was the mistake the Marx, Lenin, and their disciples did. It is an intellectual naiveté to think that someone could conceive a new society. We are unable to conceive of a simple blood corpuscle or human being, how could we conceive a whole society?
As expected, the most of its adepts are not from the communist countries, but among those who do not know much what they are talking about. I will not say that I should know, but I can add one more opinion, namely the opinion of someone that knew the effects of one of the Marxism’s implementation: I live in Romania. We, the Romanians, experienced a sort of Marxism imposed by Soviet Army, so that – except few traitors and stupid people – Marxism, communism, socialism, etc., are something coming from East, with a smack of Urals-Altaic invasion. Things were different in the former USSR. While we were like a colony, the USSR was the colonist. Even inside of the USSR, things were different in Russia in comparison with the other soviet republics, generally occupied countries. China, Cuba, North Korea are other examples, but I will not speak about them now.
Surprising for me is why people do not speak about Cambodia? This was the purist implementation of the Marxism, because its leaders had been high educated in France and imposed their doctrine by force, so exactly like as Marx recommended.
From the smallest cell to the greatest ecosystems – including the humanity - in the whole nature the dialectic struggle for life is the main law. Our liberty stops where the other’s liberty begins; unless we would stretch unlimited. The struggle of opposites is the clue of progress. The human society does not make an exception. The sense of propriety keeps by the human nature. Ignoring it, it means to ignore our nature (It was the first stupidity of the Marxism.) What assures the survival of the capitalism is not the property, but the market. Both property and market are natural.
Words like exploitation of people by people, etc. come from the hate of feeble persons face to the strong ones. And just such persons, if they are ignorant too, think that they would adopt great decision whether they were some powerful leaders. But they are not. On the contrary, they are weak and ignorant. And then, they build imaginary social systems, where some people – like themselves - are arbitrators for everything, and take “wise” decisions. Only a cad could think like this, and this is exactly what happened in East Europe. You may not believe that in all the former communist countries appeared in the same time some ferocious dictators like the mushrooms after the rain. The system did it. The “dictators” were only the representatives of the system. In communist countries there always was a group of people, an oligarchy, which ruled. The leaders’ decisions are not wise, but volitional and authoritative ones.
Dictatorship and economic collapse are the inevitable effects of all the systems of Marxist orientation.
And still, Marxism did not die. Why? Because it is an idea, and ideas does not die. People – some people – made from it an ideal, a Utopia of course, and the politicians take advantages using it in their propaganda. It is nothing more than a propagandistic doctrine for manipulating stupid (but many) people, important thanks their votes.
Of course, its upholders will say that all the experiments of the Marxism were not perfect, and so the idea resists, as the perfection is not possible. The politicians always were sly enough for persuade credulous people, and they will ever try to gain their votes, no matter how stupid is their stubbornness in maintaining the same idea after so many failures.
Somebody said that if you are not a Marxist during your 20’s, you does not have a heart; but if continue to believe in it after 30 years old, than you are a moron.
Do is American people happier today than ten, or twenty, years ago? Surely, not! Besides the old fears, they added the terrorism. Why was it necessary? Well, it was not necessary at all. Terrorism is an effect, not a cause, and its cause is to be found just in American politics. Now, they invaded Iraq. A monumental historic mistake, which arises the hate between people at the highest lever ever reached. Which religion, which philosophy taught them to do it?
I could go on with such examples, but this recent one is enough, I think.
The whole our society is built on lie:
- Lovers promise moon and stars; we all know it to be absurd, but lovers want to be lay as nice as possible;
- Politicians, in their electoral campaigns promise wonders, do nothing, but we elect them again;
- Religions are lies from head to foot, but we need it for our morality and psychological equilibrium.
- We deceive ourselves thinking to be what we are not, and proposing to go toward an aim the way of which we never start.
The discounted appears seeing that we did not reach a target. Of course, the other people were guilty, and the final conclusion is that the mankind is bad.
We do not know whither to go, but at least we know where we are. Really? Let’s suppose yes. "A fiasco is the place where you rise from, for going on." C. Noica, a Romanian philosopher, said this. I do not know if it is quite true. Maybe Noica is wrong! Then, here is another one from William Arthur Ward:
- The pessimist complains about the wind.
- The optimist expects it to change.
- The realist adjusts the sails.
It is clear that our route was full of mistakes. The question is how to do for avoiding others in the future. But how to know, if we do not know from where the wind is blowing, and not even what is our target, or even our role on the earth.
Maybe, our salvation consists in the fact that we understand very little. But, let’s not be so pessimistic. Anaxagoras said: "In the world, there are order and laws. That's how the world can be understood". The disadvantage lies in the fact that man uses his knowledge in his advantage, modifying in this way the environment, without knowing how detrimental his acts are. Our luck consists in the fact that - at least till now - our understanding was extremely limited, and its influence was minor, but evidently things are going to be different soon. The imminence of a catastrophe makes us to think if the recommendation of the Bible "think and not search" would not has been a wiser advice. First, we wonder if the scholars of those times really were so good soothsayers, or simply preached something comfortable for their own profession and life. We easy notice they contradict themselves saying that God made the world after a plan, consequently there is order in the world, there is a logic in which it was built. If these exist, the world can be understood, so we can do it, and nobody will hamper man wanting to become like God. The hypothesis that order does not exist in nature fails, not matter of the point of view in which we approach the question. Not even God could not make the world without a plan, so there was some logic and order in his mind. What remains to us is the conclusion that order exists, but our fragmental understanding, or to be more exactly our lake of understanding of superior levels, makes us to wrongly extrapolate some rules valuable only at our level beyond the limits.
The wish of life proposed by Schopenhauer as source of vital energy - even if it is far away to be perfect and exhaustive - is the most intelligent approach so far, at least in my opinion. The man Schopenhauer was much disputed, due to his ironical style, but his ideas still deserve our attention. And, if we think, the Bergson’s “élan vital” is a similar idea.
During a trip in the USA, one of the most important problems for me was the transport. I was to cross the continent from east to west and backwards, with as many stops as possible. Of course a car would be the best solution, particularly because I have got lots of painting materials to carry. Besides, I might stop here and there for painting on the spot, and a wet canvas is almost impossible to pack up. I do not own enough money for a new car, to hire one would be also rather expensive, but I could buy an old one. Florida is a good source for cheap old cars, much cheaper than Georgia, my next stop. I was definite to buy one, but all the people that I asked told me to renounce, because - for fear of robbers - nobody will stop to help me, if the car goes out of order in the middle of the route. And an old car surely will do. The single way is to call for service, but it may cost me more than another car. And the distances are of thousands of miles here. I followed their advice, but what a sad thought: nobody helps each other! What would be the happiness to live in a dehumanised society?
It is true: how could I have broken a deadlock without help. But why without help? What kind of society is this where people do not help each other? I think that the percentage of the highwaymen is not greater here than in Romania, where people still help. It does not mean that Romania is a country to covet. Quite the contrary! The same process is going on there too. The matter is the direction toward which the society goes. And why it goes there? For the Americans there is an answer: too much propaganda. They are educated in this way. Why? Please, do not ask me!
On the other hand, people become suspicious after some sly persons deceived them, but much more frequent because it is just they who usually try to deceive other people. The Americans are very suspicious people. Why?
Evil people are throughout the world. The difference consists in the way of their manifestations. Bank breakers can exist only in a town with banks. In a communist country, there were but a few thieves, as there was not much to steal. Evil people used to become political leaders.
Whither? Embarrassment question! In face of such questions, the most comfortable solution is to put them on the back burner. The single being who postpones is the man. Plants and animals do everything immediately. Postponement is an attribute of the intelligence. The idea of waiting is the essence of any religion. For Christianity, there is the belief in a future life in Heaven, the Second Coming of Christ, etc. Even communist propaganda built such a promise too: communism would be a final aim; till then, we must sacrifice ourselves in a socialist society. It is not different now. Romania is said to be in a period of transition, from a dictatorial-communist country toward a market-orientated one. As a mater of fact, nobody does something in this purpose. On the contrary, we are going from a bad organised society to a completely disorganised one, in which some chiefs will do as they wish.
I have pen pals from many countries with different political orientations. It is easy to remark that those from countries with former socialist regimes are of right orientation, while those from countries with market-driven economy have left orientation. There always is a problem to know how much to the right thinks someone coming from the left and how much to the left thinks someone coming from the right, and how distant is their relative position. It seems that, in people’s opinion, the best political system is anything else except that in which they are living. (The grass always is greener in another field) Is there an ideal political system? The question is not new at all. The ancients were very concerned in such topics, much more than we are, and we are often surprised how deep their concepts were. One of the most comprehensive one belonged to Aristotle, in his Politika. He identified three main theoretical types of political systems: aristocracy, monarchy and republic. None is perfect. Every one of them has good qualities and flaws. That's why the society usually turns from one type into another in a perpetual cycle: monarchy, democracy, aristocracy, monarchy and so on, passing through some degenerated forms. Dictatorships are degenerated forms of the democracy, before its fall. (Aristotle said.)
I had the misfortune to change three types of political systems in the same country. Despite this misfortune - in any evil there is something good-- I was lucky by having the opportunity to see for myself what really happened here, and how people behaved during those changes. Before the WW2, Romania was a monarchy in full development. Soviet Army suddenly broke its evolution. They imposed us their democracy in fact one already degenerated. In less than fifty years, this political system broken down in all the occupied countries, starting with USSR itself. All of these countries are now trying to adopt a market-driven economy.
In my opinion, the system in which we live is not important. None is perfect. Our duty is to try to make things tolerable and to improve it continuously. The key to progress is not in politics but in morality and economy. Politics is a necessary evil. The economy must be efficient, because the more efficient it is the easier people succeed in annihilating the stupidity of the politicians and lead their acts. The occidental countries have different political systems. Some of them are monarchy and others republics, but all belong to the same community: the community of prosperous countries. People want to improve their lives only when they can trust their political system and respect its rule. That's why we can accept some small imperfections if the system is a prosperous one, and people really want to improve it step by step because they trust in their morality. What impressed me most when visiting occidental countries was people's preoccupation for well-done things. They know that working well is to their advantage. Our elder generations used to do the same but the younger ones have a "socialist education". This is what we need to change.
¶. It is clear that we do not know how a society could be like, but we know how it not must to be. That's why we should be concerned more on those social mechanisms, which would be able to prevent the society to go on dangerous paths. For example, the absolute majority in a parliament for a political party must be forbidden, in order to hinder some politicians to impose their will. Only a general accepted law is good for all people. Also, the algorithm for counting tax proportional to income comes from the times when great landlords were the leaders of the society in the same time. They really feel themselves to be responsible for their estates and people working and living on it. Of course, they were the ones whose contribution - directly proportional with their estates - used to make most part of the national budget. It was correct for those times, but it has nothing in common with the democracy. Why the one who works harder must pay more? Nonsense! Everyone is indebted a small amount, as he exists, and government spend money with his evidence, protection, etc. If he lives in a large town, his tax must be greater for sanitation services, and so on. Shortly, everyone should pay for what he consume, and not for how much and efficiently he works.
The deepest effect of the communism was the deterioration of the morale. That's why people need morale now more than ever.
I EXIST, SO I MEDITATE
Of course, this title is a paraphrase. Cogito, ergo sum. Anybody knows it, but the reciprocal assertion may be true as well, and this one is what interests me, because it says what I have to do.
“God, help me to believe in you!” might be my slogan. Science and religion do not contradict each other, because science offers a system of knowledge, while religion gives a way of salvation. Only the misunderstanding of one of them by the adepts of the other makes them to seem contradictory. In reality, science and religion are two different manners of thinking, and have different objectives. Only the exaggerated claims of some priests of controlling everything, together with their fright of not losing control, creates the dispute. They think there is something unique that cannot belong to both of them and consequently must be disputed. It explains their ridiculous pretension to be the single owners of the unique and absolute truth, which may be known only if you go to their particular church.
I do not know why, but I find that with every passing year, I am more and more absorbed in thoughts by religion. I will have to approach the topic here as well. That's why, I need to specify at the beginning my point of view generally. Shortly, I have three remarks about the religion:
a. Recovering self-confidence in low-spirited moments;
b. Avoid exaggerations in moments of too much self-confidence;
c. Settling down the tradition, which is also the way of bringing about of the points a. and b.
Of course, the exaggerations of some priests are equally injurious. See nowadays Talibans or the Inquisition of Middle Age. Besides, the faith is a personal question for each of us. Even those who declare to belong to the same church are different and think differently using the same words.
During my adolescence, two opposite trends influenced my education: that classic of my parents together with the entire old educated generation, and that of the "new wave" of Soviet propagandists.
1 + 1 + Soviet help = 2
Jokes like this were in fashion in Romania of 50's. As the Soviet help was equal to zero, the equality was always true. There are two morals:
- There is a truth in everything;
- You need to remove the ballast for getting clear ideas.
We used to say that one must be able to know how to read between the lines. My mind has formed in such conditions, so that I still think there is something true in almost everything but not entirely, and it is up to me to find out that truth.
The first trend was a religious one, while the second was aggressively atheist. Of course, I used to be inclined to adopt my parents' attitude but the rationalist arguments of the others claim to be explained. How could I solve this dilemma?
On the one hand, the atheists, at the end of their demonstration, found out nothing important. Their arguments against the Bible had in view minor considerations, and their way leads nowhere. Besides, God is not precisely defined. Many religions forbid any representation of Him. How could the atheists fight with defined arms against to something that is not defined at all? They do not have any chance.
On the other hand, how could I trust in a simple statement like "think and not search"? For one adept at scientist methods as I am, any statement must be proved. I needed some reasons. An argument in the balance of my thoughts was the declarations of some scientists that they were faithful. Some of them like Pascal turned themselves into the faith after they had been professionals in precise sciences. How could I learn about their reasons? They were clever men.
These used to be the thoughts of a 15-16 years old boy. Now, as an old man, I am much advanced but I cannot say that I have definitely solved the dilemma, but I have a way at least. As much as I have read - and I did it from authors of all kind of orientations - my interest in the topic has increased. The matter has become more and more complex and tinted. The truth seems to be still far away but I realised that searching for the way is more captivating than the aim itself, as far as the aim is an ideal.
One thing is clear: the atheism is good for nothing. It leads nowhere. I knew lots of atheists and every of them invoked the help of a divine force during difficult situations. People need to believe in something. Even the word 'atheist' (a Theo = without God) proves that they are not able to define themselves on an independent way. They recognise the God but stand with their back to Him.
Yes, people need to believe in something. The problem is in what, as long as there are more religions, more cults inside Christianity itself, and lots of sects that fight against each other.
There is the idea that scientists are some atheists. It's a false idea. The priests say that, when they do not understand what the scientists are speaking about. The scientists may really be quite faithful, but for a real dialog, the priests should be able to talk in an intelligent way, and to renounce to their "wooden tongue".
Some time ago, a friend of mine asked me whether I believe in Jesus but Jesus is the God's son so that the final question was the same: whether I believe in God. Probably the question would be better expressed "if I believe in the Bible". Yes, I do! The disputes among the Christian cults and sects are not against the Bible but against each other, particularly among the priests. Priests are important because they have to interpret the Bible to the common people. Unfortunately, during the history, many of them made many mistakes, particularly entering politics. In spite of their statements and pacifist slogans, nowadays they still do the same; they serve themselves by the faith instead of serve it. In their disputes, they use, without knowing the same argument one other, no matter what sect they belong to. Besides, there are too few priests able to understand deep understanding if the Bible. The most of them know only how to preach a sermon.
Even Dalai Lama, in his Autobiography, writes, "Every religion has its potential to make evil. This is not the guilt of the religion, but of the people promoting it".
Yes, I believe in the Bible but not in priests. That's why I always wanted to read more and more, from authors of different faiths, books being my single serious source of information and the real society was the place where the ideas are proved. What have I learnt from these books and my meditation? The great truths become truisms when we try to express them shortly. (This is a truism as well.) We cannot suddenly discover the whole truth but we find it out again and again, more full and rich, just searching for it. God does not need my sacrifices. He wants me to be happy. In this order it is satisfying whether I am myself: honest and having a loving face to all those surrounding me. That is simple, very simple, but I have to do it every time and this is not always easy but it deserves a try.
Life is intricate, and man has the capacity to pass over its tribulations by more than one means. One of them is the forgetfulness. He forgets unpleasant episodes and goes on. The predilection of men for soldier's jokes has just this explanation. Only small amusing events remain in the memory, as if military service had been nothing else but a continuous entertainment. Sometimes it is necessary, but if we do it every time it would be a big mistake.
Therefore, a solution could be forgiveness. If it is so, I can’t help thinking to Orpheus. Speaking of forgetfulness, I have always found interesting the proximity of meanings between the verbs to forget and to look back. It does not work in English but it obviously did in Romanian and, probably, in old Greek. I do not know for sure, but Orpheus' legend makes me think so. Let me explain. In Romanian language, to forget and to look back are homonyms: "a uita". As far as the legend goes, it is nice. Thanks to his special qualities, Orpheus had got the privilege to bring back to life Eurydice, his wife, who had just died. Persephone, Hades' wife, who granted him this unexpected favour, asked him not to look behind on his homeward journey until they reached the upper world. Everything goes well but, when they were about to get out, he looked back for assuring of Eurydice really was walking behind him. At that moment, Eurydice vanished back into the darkness of the underworld. In a moment of wandering, Orpheus forgot (a uitat) his engagement, and looked back (s-a uitat inapoi). Later, a fierce band of women killed him and threw his head into the Hebrus River. The head continued to sing for Eurydice and was carried as far as Lesbos, where the muses buried it. Let's remind that his mother, Calliope, was a muse too. In Greek philosophy everything takes part in a cycle, and comes back to where it departed from. Also, singing means to obey the memory.
Perpetual return is the fundamental principle in most old faiths, which even the Greeks could not elude. The Jews broke the cycle and the Christians perfected it. They created history, namely something that has a beginning and will have an end. Wow! The Greeks, at the height of their advanced conception, had the notion of infinite only for the time, not for the materiel. According to their conception, atoms were of a finite number. It results from this theory that, however great the possible number of combinations would be, as time is infinite, the atoms will return to identical configurations already seen in the past. Consequently, every shape of life will return somewhere at the same stage after a while. From here, it comes the idea of the cycle, reaffirmed in nature in an infinite number of forms and confirming the idea of perpetual return.
Oriental faiths start from the idea that, removing wish, we get rid off the sufferings. But pain is a sign that something goes wrong. It is only a symptom. Removing it we do not remove the cause. Consequently, we must correct our wrong way, behaviour, or convictions. This is the only way. We cannot make a perfect thing for the first time. Not even God did succeed. He still works for improving his creation. As for the Bible, it needs many up-to-dates.
Happiness is everybody's major aim. Any man seeks for his own happiness. That's why all serious religion tried to give a way to its parishioners. Usually, they are persuaded to do nothing but follow a pre-established way. Doing it, they are happy being are sure they are on the right way.
As for me, I must confess that I love to learn as much as possible; I split hair for it. Maybe this is a flaw and not a quality, as I am happy only for the moment, when I have just learnt something, but I am not happy generally.
I am thinking at a Thomas Nagel's essay about the death, (Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press, 1979) discussing times before and after one's death, wanting to establish if death is a good or a bad event. His ingenious approach to the topic makes the discussion not only interesting, but also inciting. His analyse would still follow another way if we first define the concept of time.
The debates about time always seem odd and apparently senseless because we have got into the habit of using of it before to define it. Even so, it is necessary to define the concept we use to make clear enough its subsequent utilisation. I shall not deeply develop here this concept, but some specifics are necessary to approach our initial topic. This is what I am trying to do in the following paragraph.
We accept the conception according to time as a sum of the events happened in an interval. The idea is not new at all. I am quoting Marcus Aurelius, for not calling some ancient scholars. He said: “time of the world is as it were a flood and swift current, consisting of the things that are brought to pass in the world”. So, if between two successive events a third one does not exist, we would not have any reason to consider the two events not to be consecutive. The length of such interval is nil. Instead, some intermediate events between the initial two make the interval to seem longer. The more they are, the longer the interval is. Therefore we can look at time as a warehouse of events, a collection, a history of them. The length is a contouring of the events that occur in an interval. The length may seem different to different observers, depending on the events that each of them observes. And so it is. Each observer has his own imagine about the world, his history, his time. Universal time is a wrapper of all individual times. The usual physical time is nothing else but a bringing to the same denominator, a common value scale, useful for communication among us. Shortly, we conceive the time in its essence like a succession of events and not as a pre-established, existing, and everlasting matrix, in which some events could happen or not.
Let us return to our topic. Death is not a deed, strictly speaking. Life is a deed, an activity; death is nothing but the end of life. Death is an event only in the sense that it can be recorded in history. An analogy for life is a liquid flowing from a reservoir. Death is the moment when the liquid has finished itself and nothing more flows. (Whether a person's life ended suddenly, by a fatal accident for instance, or slowly at old age, it does not matter. One of our subjective estimation is that the first case is tragic and unfortunate, and the second one is natural. But we actually never knew how much liquid had been in the reservoir. It is only in our imagination the thought that all reservoirs of life are equal each other. To extend the life/reservoir analogy, considering how fast or slow the liquid flows, would go beyond of our purpose. Therefore death is only the end of life and we should not assign it an exaggerate role.)
If death is not worth speaking about, and life is, then the initial question must be changed a little: is there a significant difference between the time before someone's birth and after his death? In both situations, the person's life does not exist. Therefore the two times seem to be equivalent: times in which he does not exist. We see now, after the concept of time has been defined as such, that the answer to the first question is definitely NO. That is because the first time, looked as history of the previous events, does not contain the person's life, while the history of after his death does it. History has been enriched with another life, another deed.
Maybe just the awareness of the idea that our life becomes history, our history, makes death seem important to each of us, because we ourselves become responsible for the trace we leave behind. Maybe if our life were longer, just a bit, we would succeed in giving our traces more consistency, or making it seem at least honourable. It is from here probably that the fear of death comes, like of the final judgement, such as death leaves us undressed by what we sometimes try to put on to seem more beautiful.
Surely, such a deep topic could be approached in many ways and the conclusions would be equally different. This approach was only a way. A definitive solution would be the most awkward thing in the world.
Instead of a cosmogony
When thinking of micro-cosmos, we have in view tiny lifeless particles having certain characteristic physical features. In macro-cosmos, the only difference is that the tiny particles become very large cosmic bodies. We wonder ourselves if life exists on other planets but any planet strictly speaking is conceived as something without life. Into this inanimate and simple medium, between micro and macro cosmos, life does exist at least on our planet on which we live with all of our faiths and fights. Odd, isn't it? The culprit is our imagination, or more specifically, our lack of imagination. We understand what occurs around us but our knowledge decreases substantially as our thinking moves farther away. In both micro-cosmos as well as macro-cosmos, our mind imagines simple particles whirling unceasingly around each other. Really? Is the world senseless? Unlikely! What would be the sense of a world without sense? We will never be able to provide answers to these questions but this does not prevent us from imagining other cosmogonies. But why? The reason for any cosmogony ever conceived was to make sense of our life and to serve as support of morality. Any religion does offer some moral norms based upon a particular cosmogony. The science, on the other hand, destroys any cosmogony, and implicitly the moral norms that had used that cosmogony as support, offering nothing as a replacement. If you are not a religious person at all, consider the following proposition. As science accepts the infinite as mathematical notion, then we may accept that Earth is a particle in the micro-cosmos of another superior system which, in turn, is a particle in other systems and so on. Perhaps we are somewhere in an infinite flight of stairs. Can Earth be a particle of the liver of an upper being? It seems we must accept that life could exist both in small and large infinite. There is a god for us and we are gods for our some smaller ones. But how could I speak something to those smaller beings from my body what I want they to do. How could I address to them? They do not know Romanian language, not even English. It must be another way, not to make them to understand me, but to oblige them to work properly. If don't, the inflicting punishment will be drastic and then... what, for example, a section of the liver becomes out of the body? A decaying material! Of course, it would be naive to think that God looks like us and he watches our individual existence. Is there a moral? From an individual point of view the answer is NO, but - from a collective one - it is YES. For example to keep Earth alive; otherwise the vital functions of the upper being will surely remove us as a decayed corpuscle! In which way? This would be the topic of the religion. This is not just a cosmogony but it deserves to think on it.
(It looks like such of pantheism. What a trump of a fellow this Spinoza was! He knew nothing about the structure of the atom, but thought better than many contemporaries. As we understand him now, I wonder when we will understand the ancient Greeks, although Hindu tradition is nearer by the pantheism.)
¶. If God made us, he did it for himself. Let's suppose that we, you or I, to make a machinery, let's say a "bio-machine". We do not want that machine to raise prayers to us, or to glorify our name every day and every hour, unless we are just some stupid people. What we want is that machine to work according to our project. God wants the same from us. Prayers are priests' inventions. The question is what God wants us to do? Maybe to preserve the planet entirely! Do not forget that he made the earth firstly, and only afterwards the man.
How could we possibly hope to discover something of the mind of God? How God views our life, and what he thinks? (If God made us like him, he is like us, so he has the same troubles. I would like to know when it is the better time for asking him about my problems, because I do not want to disturb him while in the bathroom. Fortunately, be sure that he is not like us.)
As a beginning is proved - both biblical and archaeological - an end must be as well. The idea of an imminent end gives birth to the salvation idea, evidently for those who will be alive then. How to save themselves? With prayers it is unlikely. Anyway, the solution is not to be found in a book written several thousands years ago. But, till then, it would be good for us to keep the planet entirely.
At the beginning, it is the word that was. The Bible says that. Of course, the God's word! "Word" has a deeper meaning here. It says that God had a plan, a project, before starting to make the world. He didn't play making earth, plants, animals and finally some little men, at random. First, he had had a project. All the nature was conceived as a whole. That's why we ought to preserve the nature as it is, with the mankind in it, if possible. This is our first duty. If we have too many "original" eccentric ideas, there is the risk of becoming non-functional inside of the upper-system and, consequently, the system will eliminate us, just because it was conceived as a whole.
Man is in his essence bad. Any object or being in nature is in a permanent interaction with the objects and beings around him. The struggle for existence is indispensable for life, is life itself. Man, as part of nature, cannot make exception. Thanks to the education, he learns how to live decently, as the medium will impose its limits anyway. The intelligence should improve his existence, but it did not happen so far. On the contrary, man used it destructively. In whole, our situation looks like that of pre-historical dinosaurs, which used to dominate the medium, but were the first to disappear. If you do not like my comparison, think to brontosaurs!
As for the education, it is an individual process. The society does not change itself in the same rhythm. As a result, educated people are victims of the less educated ones. And this is the smallest effect. More grave is that we firstly propose to educate man to be good, and then we think that men really are good. It is a non-realist premise to imagine man better than he is. This is why we conceive all kinds of utopias. People should be considered as they are, and conceive a society in according to their characteristic features.
¶. Do we are free? Without the pressure of the atmosphere our body would burst. (Schopenhauer said it.) The absolute liberty is not possible. In society, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said that it is the enemy who borders us, gives form and found us. Let us not say just enemy, but it is clear that our liberty come up against the others' liberty, so that we must not disregard them.
¶. I have just read the leaflet from a CD with music of American Indians, where the author insisted on the idea that, in Indian spiritualist faith, man is considered to be part of nature. It is here from his attachment to the nature arises. I am thinking the morale issued from the Christian faith is opposite. In Christianity, people are taught that their existence on the Earth is temporary; the eternity is in the Eden, likely in the Hell. From here the scorn to the earth and everything is on it, the neglecting of the medium. Even in Extreme Oriental faiths, although mankind's existence on the Earth is considered to be temporary too, caring plants and animals is extremely important. Only the Christians are inimical to the medium. This comparison deserves a deeper analyse. Maybe I will do it one day. For the moment, I keep in mind that native-Americans spiritualist faith seems to be better that ours. Their god has less political ambitions.
¶. With or without beard, alike us or, on the contrary, very different, a being or spontaneous nature, God surely exists, and we are his children, in the figurative sense, of course. The question is what he claims from us? Hosannas and glorifying hymns surely not! They are tricks invented by priests. Maybe God only wants us to behave on a normal way, as he made us. Consequently, any exaggeration is opposite to his will.
¶. In time, common people have understood better and better Christian philosophy. It is not true the atheism is generalised, but the profound Christian message is not to be found in most churches, and people see this. Consequently, they do not go to church, but they believe, everyone in his way. Now, it is surprisingly, at least for me, why neo-Protestant preachers insist on those anachronic ideas of Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Jesus, who will massacre all the people except those few adepts of exactly their church. Probably my wife is right saying that everybody believes in God according to his soul.
¶. In east Europe, not even fifty years of communist propaganda changed the faith. On the contrary, this is just more obvious now, when the poverty reached unbearable limits; people thank to God as the only rescuer. We must not forget that Christianity is first the faith of poor people.
¶. Paradise has not representations in our world; we cannot imagine it. As for the hell, Dante imagined it as earthly as possible. I am afraid the modern times exceeded his fantasy.
¶. Now I know at least where we come from: from love.
Could the education be a way for improving our situation? Of course, it could, but what kind of education, because we had enough of it so far. Not more education will change things. It is just the education itself that we have to change for improving our conditions.
For example, all the people complain about the informative, cultural and educational intoxication through the television. The societies of television defend themselves invoking financial arguments. The word-key around of which all arguments and pseudo-arguments whirs, and that put an end to any discussion, is “rating”.
This is a lie, because any businessman knows that, in trade, before to launch a product, one must prepare the market. The fashion parades precede the clothes industry, and not vice versa. The TV societies gain from advertisements and do not know to promote their own cultural strategy. Do not know, because they do not have one. Why they do not have one? Because, behind of closed doors, there are politicians, and these ones are interested only in the number of those who could give their vote, number perfect reflected by the rating, and not by the quality of the electors. (The electors’ education is a concept interesting only for a well-intentioned politician, but this one is resident in Utopia.)
The question is: why men of culture do not react? I attended some days ago at a televised discussion just on this topic with a select participation from the point of view of the cultural representation, but nobody remarked that the number is not the all (stick and stone).
We complain that children’s energy and time are consumed with stupid gains, horror and action films, without any educative value. Yes, but all those movies and games are not made by children. The adults make them, and not those from some under-developed counties, but those from the most developed ones. Why? Do these countries to have stupid children? You will be astonished to learn that my answer is YES. Those relative few clever children, useful for the country, are educated in family. The others must carry the flag of the country when and where it is need, and the “Terminator” is perfect for it.
This is the education that we do. So do not complain, any longer!
There are lots of mistakes even around us. Here is an example: Many parents encourage - sometimes guide - their children to follow a profession in according to what is supposed to be children's vocation. Theoretically it is right, but practically not always. Here are two kinds of mistakes:
Now I am thinking to writers. Why writers? Because they are teachers too, even if in an indirect way! Teachers and historians as well, because they relate for the future generations about life during their time! There is the idea that a writer is someone able to handle words easily. Exaggerating a little, this conception is similar with someone saying that a writer must be a good calligrapher. In my opinion, a true writer must have something to say. Unfortunately, we are not able do discern such talent in a child. He needs first to live some experiences of life, to learn a lot, to understand something, and put to himself some questions. The genial writers have the intuition of the future; the more modest ones can relate events from their epoch. But those who have nothing to say do not exist as writers, not matter what they print on their visit-card, no matter how many books they published, with or without help of some cultural societies. The form in which they write certainly is important. But, as a form without content is of nobody's interest, their books will have the same fate as any packing, if they do not say anything.
Theoretically, the literature may seize all the fields of knowledge. Consequently, the ensemble of all writings might means culture, but a single writer is not necessary a man of culture, especially if his writings are only some superficial, sometimes romantic, descriptions of feelings or facts. Then the difference between literature and culture might be immense.
The education is in my opinion that who stays at the basement of the society. If it is oriented toward artificial, false or exaggerate values, people will reject them and the society decays. If the education has in view realist targets, then the society is viable. Better or worse, it will resist in time.
Democracy may be the guarding dog of the society, particularly as media freedom, freedom of speech generally, but not a system politic.
Education is that that give to people the necessary criterions for judging his leaders consciously, and to not be deceived by them.
For it, education has to belong to the culture, and not to politics.
The effects of the philosophy are to be found in people’s behaviour, and we can see them in people’s traditions, legends and fairy-tales. It is naturally, because people want to educate their children as well as they can, and convey to them the whole their wise. That’s why, a judicious analyse of the fair-tales could be more rich in senses that it seems at the first view.
The philosophers’ writings from an epoch will enter in people’s conscience little by little, in the following period, while the mentality of present-day epoch reflects the philosophic thought of the former epoch, as it needed time for forming mentalities at the people’s level. (It is true that there are some scholars who reflect in their writings the mentality of their epoch, but they do not deserve to be called real philosophers.)
Speaking about fairy-tales, in the Chinese ones, for example, the popular here – who had become a hero as the result of a brave action – actually finds a wife and both of them will retire into the country, in an isolate place, where they live to a venerable age. The main idea is the isolation face to high life, with its fights and intrigues. Such a behaviour fits to the conception according with man is part of the universe in which he will come back one day, and the salvation is a personal, individual matter. Mankind is only an accidental crowd without common interests.
In French legends we find the heroes, like Roland, giving their lives for the country. Their attitude prepared French people for becoming a nationalist one, which happened soon.
The legends of King Arthur, instead, built the character of the knight who fights his entire life for an ideal (Holy Grail).
As for Greek Mythology, it is the most ample reflection of people’s mentality. Gods and people used to be similar, with qualities and flaws as well, because, if something is allowed to gods, why people could not afford the same. And, of course, the powerful ones can afford more than the poor ones. As for Prometheus, he was not the one that we speak about now, namely only the positive hero. He was equally a negative one, undisciplined, hasty, who acted without knowing Zeus’s high well-intentioned aims. In Greed Mythology, Prometheus was sooner a subject for endless discussions, useful as exercises for discerning between two opposite ways. Mythology was the most realist religion that ever existed, and I never understood why we make a difference between it and religion. Ah, yes! Just now I see! Mythology was open to all kind of interpretations, like the disputes around Prometheus, while religion is closed: it gives a solution supposed to be definitive.
Religions create archetypes not only in theological plans, but also in people's behaviour. The morale is based on tradition; people do a thing because their ancestors did the same. The ration has destroyed the myth, the archetypes. The risk is to create disorder, indiscipline, chaos; anyone could think that he is cleverer that the others, maybe just God. Civilised societies replaced the tradition with the norms. Every civilised man keeps respectful for norms. The communism destroyed the myth, but was not able to create norms worthy of credit.
We make the apology of the state of law, a state governed by law. But it supposes that we have a perfect juridical system, which is impossible. The mistake is the same with that made by the communists: they wanted to build a perfect system governed by themselves.
There is an aphorism often wrong interpreted: "The exception strengthen the rule". The mistake consists in the fact that we use it as a justification when we do not want to take seriously a rule, either because we do not understand it or we do not like it. The philosophy of this aphorism refers a very different thing. It starts from the idea that any rule has a limited field, within of which the rule is valuable, and an exception says us that we passed beyond the limits. Knowing the exceptions, the limits become more and more precise, and the rule stronger inside of its field. In physics, for example, there are so-named 'laws of flowing of fluids' (Sorry, I do not know the English for it). It goes without saying these laws are not valuable for materials unable to flow. But is still fluid a liquid that becomes more and more viscous at low temperature? How far the laws are still valuable? The beans of wheat, grains generally, are solids, but their ensemble flows like a perfect liquid. A well judgement depends on the accuracy with which we have defined its limits.
It is clear that, for using correct a law, we must make sure firstly if we are inside of the field where that law is valuable. And it is clearer that we no not keep this idea of common sense just when we do major judgements in fields much beyond of our possibilities of understanding.
The Americans are little preoccupied in mythology, and most of them never heard of Prometheus. Of course, they do not suffer for such a small thing. It is more important for them to know: how to make dollars, instead of seeking answers to questions with Prometheus. Making money is a necessity for living, but I think it is very important to ask questions. To be human means to ask questions. "Solely he who never thought enough, has clear ideas", said a poetess. Living without dilemmas seems to me the most useless possible thing. And some of the first dilemmas begin with Prometheus. "To bring to light the deep sense of these myths is the single way to understand the spirit of the civilisations born from them." (Adriano Tilgher)
No matter what our faith is, our ancestors' faith, including mythology, is part of out history, of our cultural background. We are the result of our own history and cannot deny our genesis, because it would mean denying ourselves. We are the consequence of our forefathers' deeds, good or bad. They say you must know where you come from, in order to know where you head for.
How many people think of the origin of the word “gothic”? It has only recently gained positive connotations. In the language of Renaissance architects, gothic used to mean barbarian. The Italians invented it, with a pejorative meaning, for mocking the old style of the Middle Age. The Goths, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, etc, were barbarians. Europe belongs to the old Greek culture, where "man is the measure of all things" (Protagoras). The sense of measure and proportion is characteristics of Greek culture, while the dominant feature of Gothic style is tallness, in order to impress tinny believers with the grandeur of the church. It belongs to the barbarity of Middle Age, when Europe's impetuosity seemed to be without limits. It was the Renaissance that brought things to their normal matrix and Europe has become really civilised. And Renaissance itself is in a great measure a result of the exodus of Greek intellectuals from the former Byzantine Empire, occupied in 1435 by Turks.
I did not speak accidentally about this word. It could give us an idea about two styles of think: the old Greek’s one, and the occidental one. Man is the measure of everything, but is not the centre of the universe, and the anthropocentric one, man is like the creator and he has not limits.
Why we ignore the real history? It is part of the education
Do not make problems! It is simply! The politicians from powerful countries have immediate interests, so that – for justifying their acts – they prefer to ignore history, or even to modify it, according with their strategy. People from their countries, instead, must learn what the politicians what they to know. As for the people from the other countries, they do not matter.
It is amazing how superficial the books of history are, and even what we consider to be general education. We learn the exact data when some events occurred, but rather less about why they happened, and which were their causes. “History often is the painting of stupidities and crimes”. (Voltaire) Of course, the events are important, because they are landmarks in the line-time, helping us to fix in our memory the real exploits in history. Still they are not "the history"; they are only some of its landmarks.
The historians always use simplified schemes, according to their conception, sometimes just with political interests. The history that my parents learnt in school was wholly different from what the communists tried to teach us during the communist regime. A history written by a French historian is different from one written by an English historian. An economist and a religious preacher look the history from some very different points of view. I can understand it, but I cannot accept a smatter as historians. That's why there is not a real, correct, complete and thorough history, and each of us has his own history, a synthesis of what we have read and understood, according to our own conception.
In Romania of '50 years, for example, under the Russian's supervision, they wrote a new textbook of history, full with "class struggle of exploited people against to the exploiter one" and of course the "huge role of Russian communists". The history classes became for several years classes of political propaganda.
In the United States, I had the opportunity to look into a book of history for high schools. There are lots of mistakes concerning the south-east part of the Europe, with or without tendency. On its maps, Romania does not appear. Of course, it is a small country, but the word “Bulgaria” appears instead of it, even if Bulgaria, from the geographic point of view is a state at Romania’s south border, three times smaller. As from the historical point of view, it played a smaller role, as most part of time it was under Ottoman Turkish Empire’s occupation. How was that possible? At that time, being a country of Slaving language, Bulgaria used to be the protected child of the USSR, unlike Romania, a country of Latin language and more affinities to occidental Europe. But the information appeared in American books. I found more some “small” errors there, but it is not to place for writing about them now. They speak about the skilful of Soviet propaganda. Do not ask me about the American historians.
At the other extremity, the scientists are. They want to know as much as they can, devote themselves entirely to their work and, as a consequence, the field of their activity become more and more narrow.
In such conditions, it is not surprising that, between the two extremities, some sly boots, skilful in manipulating people, become leaders and make as local as world's politics.
Yes, education is a solution. More than it, I dare to say that it is just “the solution”. Not more, but wiser. But, as education needs educators, it issues that the educators must educated first. Easy, easy, we come from we started and abandoned: to philosophy. Not to the philosophy of Kant or someone like him, but to the philosophy as philosophising, as action that should be achieve not by those enable to do anything else, but by the most able ones.
Unfortunately, we must recognize that a society where scholars would have the main role in politics did not work in history, even it was prefigured from antiquity. Plato’s “Politica”, is such a thing, among some others. The simple conclusion that, if something did not work so far, will not work from now on, is useless. Do we have reasons to think that something has changed? Yes, we have! The modern society is no longer a tribal one, but it has become a global one. Consequently, the small local “catastrophes” become some global ones, which could not leave us listless. With this argument in mind, we could hope that the politicians’ epoch will turn into a long dreamed epoch of scholars. It means no more than the intellectuals will have more influence in political matters, namely the politicians will have to keep account by intellectuals. And again we come back and notice that not the politicians are guilty for not being supervised by intellectuals, but the intellectuals are not able to have control of the politicians. Why? Because those really valuable isolate themselves in their professional scope, letting the other to enter the political play.
Do not expect me to give miraculous solutions at all the world’s problems. I am not the man for it. On the contrary, I affirm that any new solution would be nothing else but a new Utopia.
What I try to say is that we ought to seek for keeping an equilibrium in all we do, in all we whish.
- Any kind of society, democracy, monarchy, etc., is as good as bad, with its qualities and flaws. This is why we should know to avoid the exaggerations, and not let the politicians to deceive us with their demagogic promises.
- Generally speaking, the religion is a necessity, but when its “truths” are proved to be erroneous, and church becomes a political instrument, then people cease to believe in that church, am religion is no longer able to exert its role.
- Philosophy would lead both the scholars’ minds for finding the best reasonable ways of general development, and common people’s minds for guiding their steps in daily activities. But when philosophers are cabotin, their “philosophy” is good-for-nothing.
And all of these happen because of the unfit upbringing. It is our education that gives us exaggerate human examples as models for following, unrealistic hopes and wrong criterions for estimating the real problems of life.
I criticized too much for someone not offering solutions. The only thing I say is that our education must be oriented toward the natural, reasonable values, and not toward some exaggerate, unrealistic ones. In nowadays-wrong upbringing, they hope that common people will find the equilibrium between the supposed bad extreme and the best one, offered as ideal. One pretends to common people to be more intelligent than his teachers.
I am not an adept of stoic’s philosophy, but I assert that we ought to learn how to put on the brake our unlimited wishes. Some time ago, for example, one talks a lot about the development of the transport means, which really has bloomed in the latest two centuries. By extrapolation, we might hope to live in Bahamas, work in Tokyo and spend the evening in a Parisian nightclub. And not only you and I, but also everyone living on the earth, because we all live in a perfect democracy, aren’t we? I think that transport already developed rather much, and it will do on, not because we need it, but because some generals want to.
Seeking for a conclusion, I am remembering a reply of a Romanian prime-minister (engineer by profession) gave in 1930’s years toward a secretary of State (an historian) who cheekily asked: “What could I learn from an engineer?” The reply was “The measure, sir”.
Yes, there is a measure in everything. Protagoras said that man is the measure of all things. I do not entirely agree with his anthropocentrism, but the assertion according with there is a measure in everything is without any doubt. The all we need is to find it. That’s why Protagoras’ maxim should be reworded as a call:
“Man, know your measures”.
As I have just read Marcus Aurelius, I am tending to see what would happen if I would apply the same algorithm. It is true; he had famous ancestors and was himself a celebrity, while my ancestors were much more modest ones, as myself too. Yet, one can do a suitable motion of translation so that the logic of the method will not be affected.
He begins by saying: “Of my grandfather Verus I have learned to be gentle and meek, and to refrain from all anger and passion”. This Verus was consul and prefect of Rome. I had two grandparents, the both businessmen in a town from Romania. I learnt nothing from them, as they had died before my birth. As a matter of fact, if they had not died, I should not have born, because they were being so grim rivals that they did not accept the marriage of their children, even if these ones used to love each other with a passion greater than their parents’ stubbornness. But the inevitable occurred, the children got married, and I came into being. I was not their first experience. From a previous attempt, my elder sister resulted. I had to accept her as my parent’s first experiment before “the great achievement”. (It is true that God made the man first and afterwards the woman, but nobody demonstrated that this would have been the best solution, and . . . he was alone.) It was expected that, after a success like this, they did not try anything else.
I would be ungrateful to keep on the idea that I would not have learnt anything from my grandfathers. Indirectly, they have taught my very many things.
My mother’s father was a poor fellow, but clever and ambitious. He got married with my grandmother, a woman very timid and lonely, but descending from a family with deep roots and assuring her an important dowry. This dowry was the base of a prosperous business, which the grandfather built alone. He has taught me by this example what a resolute man can do in his life.
About the other grandfather I know very little. Probably, he was the cause of the dispute with his post-mortem father of his daughter-in-law. He had inherited the profession of businessman - usual in his family from several generations - and considered to be from this reason “of a nobler race”. Sure is that all his children until my father, had followed some universities, while the other’s only two from five.
As I said, after the grandfathers’ died, the children were free to marry, so my father – over ears in love with my mother – followed the shortest way possible: the school of officers. In this way, after two or three years – I do not know exactly – he became a professional in a field for which he used to have not the least vocation or attraction, but free to marry, what he just done.
After Marcus Aurelius’ algorithm, I am to say now what I have learnt from my father. Well, he died when I was of four years, so that there was not much to learn from him on a direct way, but I leaned indirectly that in the life you must assume the events of the epoch in which you live, even if they did not depend on yourself, and to go with dignity through them. He died in the war, in a heroic gesture, though – as I already said – he had not any passion for military career. He has left to me as legacy the title of “Knight of Mihai Viteazul Order” the highest military award of Romania of that time. I may rejoice now of it, if I would not be too old, but it was a blemish in my biography during the communist years, as he fought against the former USSR. I do not want to become a sentimentalist, but I cannot help noting a recent occurrence. Scanning an old photo of my father, I had to give a name to the file. The first idea was “dad”. In very that moment I felt a sort but strong emotion, because I was not remembering ever uttering this word, as my father died when I was of four years.
As for my mother, in face of her self-abnegation, resistance and love for the family, I feel myself overwhelmed. I will never cease to admire her, and I am conscious that I would never have been able of her performances. I feel myself so insignificant that I do not dare to speak much on this topic. Still, some things must be mentioned. She remained widow with two children of 8 and 4 years in full war. Three years later, when the front came close to us, in 1944, we had to leave our house and take refuge in the other end of the country, in Oltenia. All officers’ families had to do it. All things were loaded in several railway-trucks, and we, the children, together we our grandmother, leaved the first. She remained a day more to supervise the loading the other trucks, and came up with us just at the destination, after several hours of waiting for us. As for the other trucks, her efforts were mostly vainly, as few of them were retrieved. In the mess and agitation of those days she was content for our regrouping. After refuge, we came back at home, where the ordeal of communist epoch began for a stigmatized family, too shy, inexperienced and unable for squeezing through the welters of real society.
But, let us start with the beginning; before learning, I had to be born. Like most famous people, after they are born, I yelled, ate and wet myself. Later on, we went on different ways. Some of us have studied philosophy; others devoted themselves to mathematics, medicine, physics, and even political sciences. One can never know what crosses people's mind. I am sure that I studied something but I do not remember exactly what it was. (Sometimes I forget the uninteresting things.) Still I remember that, when someone was asking me what I would want to be as adult, I answered: cab man. That was so, because I liked the smell of horses, or their harness, during my parents took me with them for shopping. Before to fulfil my ideal, cars had spread, so that, for the beginning I followed a technical university. Bad luck! In this way, I awaken philosopher among the engineers and painter among the philosophers. Yet I have palliating circumstances: in those years, in Romania, engineering used to be apolitical and a well-paid profession, so that any clever child went this way.
The inclination to engineering was evident since a child in the accurateness of my expressions. For example, when my sponsor asked me "what is going on with your belly", just when my stomach was being disturbed, I answered: "Belly is good, rump is bad". Still, engineering was a good school, as it moulded my thought, giving to it clarity and rigorously.
Generally, most children cry. I laughed! I was said that, whatever someone entered my room, I would laugh. I would point a finger at them and just laugh. If the person was unknown to me, the more resounding was the laughter. Thus, fewer and fewer people would enter my abode. It was said that I was a nice child. I do not believe it. The most outrageous fibs that I ever heard were about children "the little one looks like his mother or his grandmother, possibly he looks a bit like his father, and so on". The truth is that all children look like each other.
A later photograph (4-5 years) shows me as almost a cute little boy. What times and what a pity that beauty is of no use. People do not want to accept the idea that somebody can have more qualities than just beauty. Having only one quality is quite enough and rather too much at times. Consequently, I shall write on my defects and how they have increased with time, making me the think they are worthy to be mentioned.
To be sincere, I must confess that there was a spark of hope somewhere: maybe I was not very cute. Maybe I was not cute at all. Consequently, I should have the right to some qualities. It is true, they are not confirmed by the history yet, but I am an optimist. People often write and re-write histories. There are as many histories as many great interests are! And not only the good examples are worthy to be mentioned; the bad ones are much more instructive. I remember my grandmother, who was a great admirer of carrots, advising me to eat carrots to help my cheeks turn rosy red. Otherwise, I would look like brand "X" which was really not recommended at all. I did not look like brand "X" even though I did not eat carrots. Somehow I have avoided all the extremes that impacted my childhood.
As I already said, my second activity as a newborn was eating. In respect to the historical truth, I did not eat but drunk. Here is how the lie inoculates us early in our babyhood. And it is not the worse. It is true that at the beginning the word was (the Bible says), but the first word might not always the right one. It seems nobody understood my first word even though I said it very strongly. Later on, although I insisted, people persisted in their lack of interest for basic philosophical ideas. As for drinks, this has remained a matter that I am still studding and considering its depths. Some things are as uplifting as they are deep. That's why they have to be done thoroughly.
Later, I learnt that I was born under the sign of Taurus (2 May 1937), together with other good men like Lenin and Marx. Recently I have learnt that Saddam Hussein is only four days older than I. Hitler himself aspired to the same sign and a single day missed him. (Maybe this sentiment of dissatisfaction made him so ambitious.) It could have been Machiavelli's as well, but he was a clever fellow, despite to those who - more Machiavellian than him - defamed him.
The happiest year of my sign is going to be 2037. We will live to see it, though my sight is becoming weaker and weaker.
At the beginning, I was very disappointed with my sign because Taurus is a bull and a bull is however an ox: idiot and horned. But I was told that my sign is still a good one. As a matter of fact, in antiquity, Taurus used to be considered a symbol of masculine force and intelligence just thanks to its horns. Zeus himself, in his best days, used to disguise himself into a Taurus. (I think that women invented zodiac, because only they could idealise an ox in such a great measure.) I have heard that, according to other zodiacs, I should get rid of this obsession, but I do not know other ones and I am not eager to learn about them either. Why should I find out other flaws? I have enough with those already known.
There is about the same with the horoscope. Learning that I am to benefit by a good day, for example, I will be able to make mistakes due to rather much trust in my abilities. Instead, learning that I was going to have a bad day, I would be embarrassed and would make mistakes just because the lake of my usual horned enthusiasm. Learning about my horoscope at the end of a bad day would be the best. In this way I would receive an explanation for my failures during that day, and it would be a tonic for the following day when, surely, the horoscope will be more favourable, in virtue of statistic laws: after rain, bad weather! (I think it is a little different but it does not matter.)
I tried with biorhythms too. It seems more scientific but it gives me the sensation of a machine. I have the feeling that a rod-crank mechanism acts upon me in an obsessing and everlasting rhythm. Or, what a pity, some day it will stop to the disappointment of my biography's readers. (Every good thing has an end... But let's do not rush. I have only started writing it.
As the zodiac, horoscope, and even the biorhythms did not help me much, I have learnt to take things as they are. Nevertheless, honestly, on every 13th, I usually inform my acquaintances that they will probably have a bad day.
I knew the communism immediately after the Second World War, when the Soviet missionaries were endeavouring to settle it in Romania, and the first Romanian party activists were still groping. Anyway, the Soviet Army was here for assuring their success. It was like an automobile without coachwork, the components of which were all visible: engine, hear box, brake mechanism, electrical equipment, etc. The defections great or small were all visible too, and also the real aims of the communist leaders. I used to be a child then, but grown up enough for recording, even if I was not still able to do complex evaluations. And, there were the adults: parents, teachers, acquaintances, all of them being people educated before the war. Discreetly or openly, they were commenting the current acts for those who had ears to hear. Later on I was present at the enthroning and seating of the Romanian communist leaders, followed by the transformation of the society after their taste and understanding.
From my childhood I remember as well a scene happened in full street: a gipsy woman had shown her bare back to a man who had scolded her for something. Of course, she did it after she took a distance enough for do not be arrived. (I would label now her gesture as a “Pop Art” variant of the expression: “kiss my ass”.) The scene remained in my mind for the incapability of the civilized man in the face of the non-civilized one, and the questions generated by it still persist in my mind. I should have write a book about the, if I had been able. Unless, I content myself with something much more modest!