Monday, May 2, 2016

Original Sin

Original Sin is making a comeback. Individuals--even criminals--are believed to be cleansed by their new behavior--even good behavior in prison--but groups are not. Individuals often seem to be caught up in "a process," a "journey," some procedure of development so that judgment can be withheld. Not so with history, or cultures or institutions. So the Catholics will never live down the Spanish Inquisition--or the new child abuse scandal. Britain will always be a colonizer and an exploiter. The U.S. will always be "conceived in slavery and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created unequal."

The new morality of Original Sin does not allow for improvement, or insight or development. There can be no Baptism, no ablution.  No entity is seen within a context of history or time. Horrifyingly, man--or his culture--can not learn, cannot improve and rise above his errors. That looks to be a bit contradictory with this strict, Puritanical utopian vision but it is not; previous erroneous cultures are simply spoiled and cannot reclaim the present. They certainly can not lead us to the future. The dialectic leads to no hybrid change. It supplants. It destroys. It makes everything new.

One can only feel for those who thought they were contributing, thought they were doing the right thing in the past. Imagine the wife or mother sending a young man off to some brutal and uncertain future as they decided to fight for the North in the Civil War. Imagine how foolish they would feel now with their terrible sacrifices, thinking as they did they were shaping a better future for the nation and its people, righting an ancient wrong. Imagine their shame in realizing they were only continuing the crime of the state in an altered form, a crime that no sacrifice could right. Ever. Imagine their encounter with such cruelty.

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