Let me start by saying that I have two phobias in my life: the fear of heights and the fear of drowning. Both of these fears are conducive to a loss of personal control about what my body is doing and where it is going. I cannot fully control my motion in the water, and so the idea that I will go under and have no way to right myself is a genuine concern of mine when at the pool. The idea of a free fall, of being in the air with no say in your ability to slow down or stop falling, terrifies me when in a position that I could lose my balance and fall from somewhere. These fears are not truly gripping unless I’m put in positions which are on the edge of possibility, such as at the top of a water slide ride at a water park on a very windy day. I have had a panic attack on a water ride before, and had to get myself back down the stairs and sit for about half an hour, just trying to catch my breath.
My point is, I know what it feels like to truly fear something. Today, while browsing the internet, I found something which put fear into me. I was genuinely afraid, petrified by what I was reading. I was on the verge of hyperventilation in my cubicle. I managed to calm myself down, basically by going back to work despite my steaming lunch in front of me, but just the notion that what I had read had scared me that much was enough to jar me for the rest of the day…
By now you’re wondering in anticipation what it was that froze me like this. It started out like any other browsing time for me, and every once in a while finding a thread to comment on for my own interests. I came across an article which particularly caught my eye, as it was in reference to the anniversary of Kristallnacht and how the pope’s hometown was continuing his tradition of inviting all the Jewish and Protestant members of the community to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Argentina to mark the tragic beginning of the Holocaust in a solemn communal ceremony of peace. Upon reading the article, I discovered a far darker story. Apparently a group of ‘ultra-traditionalist’ Catholics (as they so called themselves) came up in the back of the Cathedral, and during the ceremony, began to belt over the congregation the ‘Our Father’ and calling the Jewish and Protestant participants, “followers of false gods who must be kept out of the sacred temple.”
Now this is not particularly what struck me to the bone, although the atrocious and sickening behavior of these people was certainly enough to get under my skin. Honestly, the Jewish Holy Book, the Torah, is part of the Bible. Jesus Christ was a Jew, and followed Jewish practice, calling the Jewish God his ‘Father.’ The insulting irony of their tirade against the Jews and the Protestants was more than enough to make me lose my appetite for lunch. But this was nowhere near the despicable, putrid aspect of the scum of humanity that I would come upon in the comments section.
In scrolling down, I believe I came across the most terrifying human being of this earth since the passing of Stalin. I am not exaggerating this in any way. And mind you, I did make a point in my response to this sick-minded excuse for a human being that he is welcome to believe whatever he wants to in life. However, the half-moment where I realized his sincerity, and so his malice and want to act upon this stated belief of his was enough to make me short of breath. Here is what this man had to say…
These FAITHFUL PEOPLE are NOT A “FRINGE GROUP” AT ALL – they are “hearing” GOD ALMIGHTY’S VOICE AND CONVEYING THAT TO THESE EVIL-INFLUENCED, MISLEAD JEWISH PEOPLE AND OTHERS.
“Kristallnacht” IS NOT A “NIGHT TO REMEMBER”, NOR COMMEMORATE.
THE HOLOCAUST WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT – GOD MANDATED THAT JEWS BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR EVIL-INFLUENCED, BLASPHEMOUS BELIEFS AND EVIL PRACTICES AND RITUALS.
A man, in the name of Christianity and the ‘one true God,’ justifying not only war, but the genocide of 6,000,000 people. This is not a joke, this is not some silly story thought up in my head in order to debunk Christian belief. This is a genuine article comment by a man claiming to be not only Christian, but Roman Catholic Christian. And this man means every word. Dear earth and sky, this man wants to justify genocide in the name of his God. To say that this statement, upon reading, floored me is beyond an understatement. I provided him with only one response.
I typically say that people can believe as they wish. And I extend that to you. Believe what you want. That doesn’t make what you believe right, moral, or justified. Your words are proof of your interest in acting on those words to the detriment of those you deem ‘wrong’ in the name of your belief. It is sick and disgusting.
Your disrespect and lack of empathy under the false justification of your interpretation of God’s word is beyond disgusting. If you think God mandates the ‘punishment’ of those who don’t believe in Him properly, why don’t you take up arms and start shooting people like the Nazis did? Or the radical Muslims? Hmm? Why aren’t you following God’s supposed mandate and cleansing the world of evil people in the name of God, like you claim the Nazis did to the Jews? People like you are why World Wars happen. You use your personal perspective on the world to justify genocide and war. You are sick.
I apologize for nothing here. It is out of character for me to be this directly rude and insulting toward another human being, especially on purpose and directly associated with that human being’s belief, but this… this deserved every word and far more.
At this point in the game, many would begin to say this is the problem with religion, and with belief in general, that it breeds hatred and conflict in people. For the slightest moment, I felt I had tipped over the edge and said, “Yes, this is the evil of religion manifest.” But it was only for a moment. You see, people are always going to justify evil acts for their own gains. Somewhere in the sick side of the mind of any particular person, thoughts like this can arise. The thing is, that is all it is, a thought. Do not get me wrong, thoughts can be very powerful things. After all, one of my favorite lines of V for Vendetta is, “A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.” And what else is a thought but a symbol put into words? It is when those thoughts, those symbols of the mind, are ACTED upon that we must also act against that symbol manifest into action, not the symbol itself.
The symbol can be useful for the individual, providing needed hope, courage, and strength which some people do not feel they can get out of their fellow man. Fine. I can understand. When I was a child, I was bullied constantly, and being my parents’ child, I was not prone to complain to them about my ill fortune at school. I just gritted my teeth and bared down. At home, I did not confide in my parents or my far too older sister. I looked to a world beyond my bedroom, untouchable beings I could make into my friends at will, who understood me, who could see things from my side AND from the bully’s side. I learned empathy through making beings who would play devil’s advocate so I could cope more easily and be stronger the next day. Religion provides the same thing to people, and even incorporates community to further solidify one’s belief into a supportive reality. That’s fine with me. I get it. I really do.
But I’ve said it too many times to count now, and I will say it again and forever more, so as many people as possible can hear it and try to understand. Believe what you want. It is your right. Acting on that belief to the detriment of others, be it mentally, physically, or spiritually, is NOT acceptable. This man, however terrifying his statement is, has the right to have such a thought. He is human, and can think freely. He CANNOT be permitted to act upon this belief, lest he set in motion World War III and begin a greater genocidal expedition than Hitler himself. This man, and many with his line of thinking, including the ‘ultra-traditionalists’ of the original story, have the potential to becoming something horrifying, something genuinely evil. They are still human, and because of that fact, I will not make a judgment to deny them the basic human right of belief. However, these are people to be feared, people to be watched with great speculation and preparedness. These are dangerous people, of which I had not come to fully realize were still so readily among the general population until today.
And there is part of me that wishes I never had…