ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
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HOLOCAUST - AN APOCALYCTIC WARNING
by Alexander Kimel
I believe that the Holocaust is an Apocalyptic Warning to mankind. The inability of modern man to withstand the pervasive powers of the totalitarian states is the fault line of our civilization. Sixty years ago, Hitler the lowly corporal, was able to set the world on fire. Today one of the many dictators can bring about an apocalyptic end to the planet.
The insane violence of W.W.I gave birth to the movements of despair - Communism and Fascism, which in turn lead to the explosive carnage of W.W.II. The acceptance of state sponsored violence by man and his religious institutions was the main condition that made those cataclysms possible. I believe that the remedy lies in the increase resistance to state sponsored violence and the increase of the ethical and moral restrains of the ordinary man. The above cannot be achieved without the removal of the religious intolerance that plaques our societies. My reasoning is as follows:
Over five thousand years ago, Moses, with ten short paragraphs laid down the foundation of our civilization. Thou shall not kill, steal, bear false witness, desire your neighbors property, his wife, servants, etc. Moses defined the relations between people, necessary for the preservation of law and order within the society. With one short paragraphs Moses defined also family relationships - "Honor thy Father and Mother". The Sabbath, the day of rest for man and beast, is an example of social legislation. With a real strike of a genius Moses defined monotheism. God, the Creator, without a name, form or image, who cares about his creations, cares about man, cares about justice.
In essence the Ten Commandments deal extensively with ethics, family values, social legislation, and are completely devoid of religious dogma. The Commandment "I am the LORD thy GOD" is not dogmatic. God is not defined by name, image or form. Unfortunately, on this foundation of civilization, man built a religious Tower of Babel in which different creeds and religions compete for exclusive rights for God's representation. Although we all worship the same God, we jealously guard the exclusivity of our interpretation of Gods commandments, paths of salvation, and are intolerant of any deviation from our own traditions.
In essence the "Original Sin" of mankind is the religious intolerance, for which there is no remedy and no redemption. We do negate the beauty of life and our common heritage, by concentrating on the narrow confines of our divisions. Intolerance leads to persecutions and conflicts. Religious competition and intolerance caused many wars that brought extensive destruction. The wars of the Reformation, the Inquisition, the Armenian Holocaust, the genocides in Serbia, Kosovo, killing of 500,000 Serbs by the Croatians, etc.
The Ten Commandments show zero tolerance for moral transgression and limitless tolerance for religious dogma. In real life things are reversed. Why? I believe this is caused by the peculiar situation of the churches, that are charismatic institutions, who shape the beliefs and moral standards of their flocks and to retain their influence have to comply with those beliefs. They follow and don't lead. On the other hand the churches to preserve their exclusivity align themselves with the interest of the states, and do not object to state sponsored violence.
The German churches never protested Hitler's insane policies or the creation of the concentration camps. Pius XII refused to the end to condemn Hitler's mega-killings. Recently, a Serbian bishop traveled to Sarajevo to bless the gun killing the Muslim Serbs. During W.W.I the French priests and the German priests blessed the killing cannons. In Chechnya the Communist politruks are replaced by the Russian chaplains.
The Holocaust and the consecutive tragedies indicate man's inability to control the destructive impulses of paranoid dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Pol Pot, etc. The danger lies in the release of tremendous energies by modern science, without developing the moral and ethical constrains that needed to safeguard the peaceful usage of those energies. The restrains cannot be developed in an atmosphere of religious intolerance. In essence the Holocaust is a small sample of the Apocalypse and a powerful warning.