Discover more from Mindset Shifts—Essays by Barry Brownstein
Are We All Made of the Same Stuff?
A guest commentary by Gary Judd KC
Gary Judd KC is a New Zealand King’s Counsel whose career has extended from matters legal to corporate governance as chairman of directors of a bank, life insurance company, and port. He is a noted speaker around Asia-Pacific.
Some of his recent writings may be found at his Substack.
Judd is responding to my recent post, Seeing the Thou in Everyone, and to comments by reader Mark S. Griffith. Judd expands on the idea of an ideology at odds with Reality as the source of the conflict.
As I wrote in another recent post civilization is at stake. In the face of unimaginable savagery, I wrestle with the words I wrote in Seeing the Thou in Everyone. We can see the humanity in all and mount an all-out defense of freedom. Spiritual truths about the nature of Reality don’t offer a playbook for war strategy, but they help us live a better life and rebuild when peace arrives.
I think this is the important point of Barry’s essay, and it is of universal application.
Hamas is a philosophy at odds with Reality. And philosophies at odds with Reality only die when more people are willing to align themselves with Reality.
Throughout history, there have been tribes and individuals who have loudly and often violently proclaimed their specialness, failing to recognize that everyone else who has ever lived on this planet is made of the same basic stuff.
I add a few observations to support it. I was prompted to do so by Mark S Griffith’s commentary which fails to grasp the point you are making when he says:
It is exactly this sort of liberal thinking and tendency to equivocate everything and everyone that has landed Israel in this situation in the first place. Instead of a clear eyed understanding that if they are to survive, enough Arabs must die to make them stop wanting to eradicate the Jews and Israel.
Constantinos Kollias’ beautiful photograph of the Acropolis of Athens which you used as the epigram for “Why civilization is at Stake,” calls these words to mind:
For by nature we all equally, both barbarians and Greeks, have an entirely similar origin: for it is fitting to fulfil the natural satisfactions which are necessary to all men: all have the ability to fulfil these in the same way, and in all this none of us is different either as barbarians or as Greek, for we all breathe into the air with mouth and nostrils.
This, from nearly 3000 years ago, is contained in a fifth-century BCE papyrus fragment, On Truth, attributed to Antiphon, an Athenian orator and thinker. It succinctly states why the rational man knows that other men have the same essential ‘humanness’ as he has.
Around 2500 years later, at the beginning of the period now known as the Enlightenment --the great ‘Age of Reason’ -- John Locke (1632-1704) expressed the same truth when he explained that all men are born free, equal "in respect of jurisdiction or dominion one over another", independent and with capacity for rationality. (See Book II of Two Treatises, §§ 4, 54, 61.)
This segues to your commentary on the “I-Thou” lens through which may be seen connectedness and common humanity with others. This lens enables an objective and observable view of the natural humanness of each human being. Whilst each is different, the human essence is the same. In contrast, the “I-It” lens juxtaposes discordant concepts.
The “It” does not derive from objective observation of humankind’s natural humanness. It uses faith-based ideas to focus on observable differences, justifying assumptions of superiority and inferiority, rightness and wrongness, based on those differences, even though there is no rational basis for doing so.
More importantly, in the present context, the differences may be the faith-based ideas themselves. Because they are faith-based, it is extraordinarily difficult to effect reconciliation between them, or toleration of another.
This does not mean that all humanity-denying conduct is the product of faith-based ideas but, even when the simple desire to exercise power and control is the motivation, an ideology which defies Reality is usually called in aid.
In Locke’s England, the existence of God and the rightness of Christianity was taken for granted. The main divide was between Protestantism and Catholicism and people had been condemned to be burned at the stake for the “heresy” of proclaiming one or the other, depending on the prevailing monarch’s religious allegiance.
Locke’s qualification to his famous declarations of freedom and equality shows how faith-based ideas may provide justification for “Subordination or Subjection.”
TO understand Political Power right, and derive it from its Original, we must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order their Acions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other Man.
A State also of Equality, wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another: there being nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same species and rank promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without Subordination or Subjection, unless the Lord and Master of them all, should by any manifest Declaration of his Will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment an undoubted Right to Dominion and Sovereignty.
That means that the conclusions from observation and reason could be set to one side if something different was decreed by the Lord and Master of them all.
The 1988 Hamas Covenant invokes Allah. For example:
"The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. "(Article 6).
The Charter indicates what raising the banner entails. For example:
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him." (Article 7)
"The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised." (Article 15)
According to the Hamas Charter, Allah as Lord and Master has issued those commands.
Reality is that which exists. The Hamas ideology is at odds with reality because it is grounded on the ‘commands’ of a non-existent commander. Its sustenance is faith, ingrained from birth.
In England, as the Age of Reason advanced, laws condemning heresy were discontinued and over time other laws supporting the Christian religion were also repealed. This is an example of the death of a philosophy at odds with reality. Not the general idea of Christianity, which is still there to some extent, but the fundamentalist form which demanded vengeance against those voicing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxy.
That’s what must happen in the Moslem world. When it happens, the Hamas ideology will lose its sustenance. It may take a long time. Similar ideologies ruled the Western world for centuries.
Killing “Arabs”, as Mr Griffith would have it, won’t get rid of the Hamas faith-based ideology. It’s more likely to reinforce it. What might be more likely to assist is for the Western world to set an example by heeding Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s warning about new ideologies being well on the way to destroying Western civilisation.
Regarding the present conflict, whatever arguments may be raised about the legitimacy of its origins and the conduct of its government, Israel is a sovereign state which is entitled to defend itself against terrorist aggression. It ought not to go beyond self-defense. I cannot, at least presently, form a view of what constitutes self-defense in the context of this conflict.
Mindset Shifts is a reader-supported publication. Free and paid subscribers receive the same content. If my essays are valuable to you, your paid subscription signals extra encouragement and support to expand my Substack work.