Wednesday, June 2, 2010

numero uno

Israel is in hot water after raiding, in international waters, a flotilla of ships bringing aid to the Gaza Strip, a place full of Palestinians over whom Israel has exercised a choking grip. About ten people were killed Monday in the raid and there has been much condemnation from the rest of the world...a condemnation that, I suspect, will soon be forgotten by Israel and its allies even as it is remembered and festers among those most affected.

I once heard the argument made that one of the reasons Adolf Hitler singled out the Jews for extermination during World War II was that -- aside from finding a convenient whipping boy -- Hitler saw a challenge to his own vision of Aryan superiority. The Jews, after all, called themselves "the chosen" and there was no way there could be two bests-of-the-best: There is only one best. Ergo "die Endlösung," the "final solution," from Hitler's point of view.

I wonder how many nations or groups around the world have looked at themselves as the best, as the preferred among all peoples. Was it the Cheyenne, the Hopis, the Navajo (among American Indians) who referred to themselves as "the people?" Maybe all of them, I honestly don't remember. And you can see the social cohesiveness that such an approach might foster.

And yet life has a way of being more diverse and more interesting than the social cohesiveness it can encompass. If I am a "Zen Buddhist," isn't it to be hoped that at some point I will step back or reflect and see that that's not quite the whole story? If I do not step back from the cohesiveness of my clan, how can it be possible that I too will not become party to some Endlösung, some little or large massacre, whether of Jews or Palestinians or Germans or ... well pick your group or philosophy that isn't as best-of-the-best as you are ... or I am?

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