The Next Big Question

Because Rabbi Kushner posed that troubling question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” it seems entirely proper to now pose the next big question, “Why do good people do bad things?”

We are headline-deep in troubling examples. Coach Paterno and Penn State are simply the latest boils on the body politic. This disease-of-misdeeds is virulent. Coaches…politicians…bankers… priests…athletes….celebrities. What is the strain that runs through the disease? Power! Everyone whose misdeeds have lately arrived in the national ER gush from their enormous hold on power.

Over a century ago the British Lord Acton said it painfully well: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In each of the current cases, the deed done was done from a position of absolute power being imposed on the almost absolutely powerless.

You don’t have to look far to find ways in which this disease has now triggered social anti-bodies. Consider the rise of the powerless in today’s mass protests. The Tea Party opposes the power of government…the OWS opposes the power of the 1%….the municipal workers unions in states like Wisconsin and Ohio oppose the power of the governor…damn near everyone in their local barbershop and beauty salon opposes damn near everything they read in their newspapers!

Nothing new here. Like cancer, this disease of power-over-the powerless has corrupted the body politic of tribes and nations from the get-go. This lack of mutual respect is in our very DNA. The only way to cure it — well, if not cured at least contained — is if the powerless compel the powerful to sit down in the patient’s room as equal partners in finding a workable protocol for recovery.

Simply put…..the powerless need to get some systemic relief for their condition; while the powerful need to accommodate this need before it is seized from out of their hands. Sometimes even elections can help find such accommodation.

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  • Yes, as Lord Acton said, "Power Corrupts-- Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely", and this is illustrated in Hitler himself.
    When I was a child in Germany, I met Hitler many times when he was visiting Eva Braun, who was at times, our next door neighbour.
    Hitler was without doubt, a consummate actor, and clever with it.
    In 'Private' [as I knew him], he was gentle, and nice. With a deep rich voice, as I called it in my Book [Uncle Hitler], 'A deep Brown voice', and he loved Children.
    He always had a sweet in his pocket, which he gave me, and if I was reading a Picture Book, he would sit me on his knee, and read out the story in the Book, doing all the voices... .Out of respect for an elder person, I would call him Uncle Adolf, and I called Eva Braun Aunty Eva for the same reason.
    Later, many years later, when I understood 'who' these people were, [I did not know at the time who they were, only that the 'man' was important], I found it very difficult to reconciled my recollections of Hitler, with his actions to other Children, not German, but Jewish.
    How could a man, play with a child, and yet order the deaths of so many others?
    When I see him now on the television, ranting and raving, in front of the masses of adoring German People, I find it difficult to think that this was the 'same' man that I knew.
    What was the difference between the Man that I knew, and the Man I see on the old films?
    Well, its partly that I have found that everybody has two sides to their character, a Public side, and a Private side, and also that everybody contains the seeds of 'evil' inside them, that in normal conditions, remains in their sub-concious mind, but once they think that they have ultimate power, and the people around them, afraid to give adverse comment, or who wanted some of that power for themselves, if only by association, then the seeds for the 'Leaders' destruction are sown.
    The Leader starts to believe in his own inbuilt idea of his ultimate destiny, 'The Ultimate Genius', a Man who is better than his Generals, or in fact, has a 'destiny' to be a World Leader, who nobody can argue with, for 'he can do no wrong'.
    Yes, indeed, 'Power Corrupts---and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely"..
    In many ways, though there were to be millions of further deaths, the seeds of his destruction were sown even when I knew him. He was already leading Germany to defeat, though at that time, nobody could see it. I first met him, I think, in early 1943, when he was very calm, in 1944, I did feel that he was changing, though I could not understand why, and then very early in 1945, when his voice had changed, it was sharper, and not friendly any more....The seed of his downfall was taking effect, and growing into the final tree, which would rot, and fall, taking his people, millions of them, with him...

  • In reply to Alfred Nestor:

    Alfred ~ Your encounter with power is supremely unique, for Hitler was the personification of power. And yet the Hitler who held you on his knee was the same Hitler who led a nation into a war. Psychiatry still wrestles with this duality in all human nature. In your case, you met both Hitlers, which makes you a kind of living history. The grim story of power over the powerless continues

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    In reply to Jack Spatafora:

    Please see my response to Mr. Nestor. I have discovered perfect samples of Adolf Hitler's DNA and am incredibly excited about the secrets they hold. As our ability to understand DNA increases at lightening speed I am sure that the coming decades will provide insights into the psychological and physical make up of the man considered by many to be the epitome of modern evil.

  • In reply to Holy Grail Hunter:

    Holy Grail Hunter ~ Please keep us posted if anything comes of your venture....

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    In reply to Alfred Nestor:

    Dear Mr. Nestor,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure that I have seen images of you with Hitler visiting the Berghof in my current research. I am representing an incredibly unique set of artifacts that will help us understand Hitler in the coming years. The artifacts are an autographed Mein Kampf and Hitler's Armband (Serial Number 7) that contain perfectly preserved DNA samples of Adolf Hitler. Please contact me at I would love to hear your insights and experiences.

  • In reply to Holy Grail Hunter:

    Holy Grail Hunter, I'm sorry, I've just noticed your comments, and I will indeed contact you direct very soon.......

  • The rabbi's comments deserve NO attention unless he is willing to bring up how the "good" Jews displace and slaughter Palestinians as they take over their land. Does he want credibility? Then he had better go after the evil ways of his own people. - George Beres

  • In reply to elgreco:

    George ~ I think the rabbi was speaking not as a Jew but as a philosopher. His question pretty much applies to all religions and nationalities. It's answer is still a struggle for me.....

  • Elgreco, or is it George? Anyway, I take your point, but as Jack points out, I do think the Rabbi was indeed talking for all religions...BUT, having said that, The Jewish Question, and Situation is very complex, and you have to go into the whole History of that region, and you will still not get an answer. But, look at the basics for a moment. The survivors of the Camps arrived in Israel on ships, and the British had the job to stop them, on the instructions of the United Nations. A job that the British Soldiers hated...They had seen for themselves what these poor people had suffered, and now they, the men who helped to rescue them from the Camps, had to add to their misery...The Jewish people had to fight once again, to survive, as if what had happened to them was not enough...Then the U.N. partitioned the area, removing the Palestinians from the area that they were scratching a living out of, almost a desert. The Israelis did not remove the original people out of the area, The Allies did that. OK all this has been simplified, and there was more than that involved, but it led to the Israeli people having to fight the Arabs and the British, and led to gorilla warfare, and more deaths on all sides.
    The Jewish people were in the region a long time before the Palestinians, and lived with the Arab people in more or less, peace...until the Allies got involved, and gave the region to the Jewish People, which not only changed the Name of the Region, but made it a Jewish State, which the Arabs could not agree to, So, the Jewish people turned a desert into arable land, by hard work, and brains, it was no longer scrub land, but a land were crops would grow, and people live. The Palestinians wanted the area back, and in some ways, you can understand this, but all they had to do was live in peace with the Israelis, but no..they continued to kill the Jewish people, more so after the British had managed to get out of the situation. Israel built up an Army, to defend its people, a small one, but one were each soldier was fighting for his Country, which was almost like a crusade, so its army was far better than the Arabs thought, as was its spy system....The Arab Nations tried to massacre the Jews, but found that though they outnumbered the Israelis almost 100 to 1, with more tanks, aircraft, as well as Soldiers, they were out manoeuvred, and the Arabs lost. I grant that since then, Israeli has acted possibly with haste after some provocation from the Arabs, but then so did America after 9/11, by starting a war against a Country that was not, as such involved i n that horror....and you are still there, fighting more know, care has to be taken if you throw stones inside a glasshouse....

  • In reply to Alfred Nestor:

    I think that's a pretty fair assessment of just how complex this issue is --for both sides. Frankly I don't think any of us here will live to see it truly resolved. The "winner" will probably be the last side still standing

  • I fully agree, Jack. It is a very complicated problem, and that's a fact. I fear that at times, I tend to be on the side of the Israelis, due to my Countries past treatment of their race, so I tend to be blinkered.
    But, I also try to stand back at times, and try to see all sides of the picture.
    The Arab race, and the Jewish race, have been at loggerheads for hundreds of years, and when outsiders, such as 'The Western Powers' get involved, it just adds to the complexities, because they think they have a solution. but because 'we' do not fully understand, our solutions never are.
    The UK has found, to its cost, that in this part of the World, they cannot win, no matter how their actions appear at first to be working. The USA is now also in the same position due to their own support of Israel, and yet, they also need to have Arab support as they have the Oil. You cannot be 'friends' with both at the same time.
    Now, Israel has stated right at the Birth of their Nation, that 'Never again, would the Jewish Race stand around like be butchered".
    Who can blame them for that?
    But, due to the racial problems between both races, the Arabians and Jews just cannot find any common ground, and with 'hot heads' on both sides adding to the fuel of mistrust, they never will.
    When a Terrorist.... [or freedom fighter..subject to which side you are on..??]..blows up a car bomb in Israel, then Israel cracks down on the Palestinians with extreme force...and kills those who were not really responsible, as the 'Terrorists' are not hanging around to be blown up themselves, and know that when the Israelis react to a atrocity, they [the Israelites], will only kill innocents, adding to the World Picture of Israel being the aggressor.
    In fact, if the Arab people in the region were able to be free of these 'Terrorists', and allowed to decide for themselves, they would find that what 'used to be a desert', is now 'living' land, due to the hard work of the Jewish people, with water irrigation, and once every body could learn to trust each other, they could all live in peace as neighbours, and with security......but, as in other parts of the World, more so in the Middle East, the 'ordinary' people are not allowed to decide for themselves. Too many people want power, Tribal Chiefs, War Lords, and Politician on 'all sides', look out only for themselves, and not the common good.
    Its been like this for hundreds of years, and sad to say, looks like it will continue for the next.
    But, there are little signs...just hints at the moment, that some people are getting fed up with this....The 'Arab Spring', is one of these. If the 'outside' powers could just help, and not insist to try to 'force' a system, [such as democracy] onto these areas, and let them slowly decide for themselves what system the 'people' want, [and that will take years], then, one day, people will be able to live in peace....more or less....But I fear, that as long as the West wants Arab Oil, things will never change.....If you think about it...... though Israel/Palestine, do not have 'oil' ...they do 'sit' in an Oil Region, and any trouble in their Countries risks Oil Supplies for the West.....If there was 'no oil' in the region...then we would never have been 'bothered' about 'The Palestine Question', its only an 'excuse' to make the Western World Powers feel better......

  • Alfred ~ Those "hints" you sense are out if only the people in power on both sides pick up on them before they once more slip away.

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