The Absurdity Trap

Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Recently two interesting news got my attention.

The first was about a very rich community enclave in Europe which preferred through a referendum “to pay a fine” than “to take in refugees”, since “they had worked hard all their lives and they deserved their beautiful village. The refugees coming in, even if it were ten families would spoil the whole set up and besides, the kids would not know English.”

The second was an article written about the research study by a Professor of Psychology at Berkeley, in which based on a personal escapade (he literally escaped from being crushed onto the tarmac by a Mercedes driver who jumped the traffic lights) he analysed whether too much money leads to a sense of entitlement and a superiority that gives a damn (or at least its equivalent in a metaphorical sense) to other human beings who happen to be around the vicinity.

Why were the news thought provoking? One often reads newspapers that highlight the atrocities committed by “rich and spoilt people” on a roll. If they shoot dead innocents, plough over sleeping roadside vendors, kill teenagers who overtake them in humble vehicles- the grist keeps getting added to the mill. I had presumed that it was a problem with the noveau riche in particular parts of the world. Until I read a few years before about the behaviour of an internationally top shot Monetary Fund director and then discovered that the Tehelkaeque issues of India were also common across  the inhuman grazing lands of power play in the world.


(From the book: The Power of Myth)

BILL MOYERS: We seem to worship celebrities today, not heroes.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Oh, yes that’s too bad. A little questionnaire was sent around one of the high schools in Brooklyn: What would you like to be? And two-thirds of the students said a celebrity. And no notion of having to achieve something, you know —

BILL MOYERS: Just to be known.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Just to be known, and have fame — name and fame. It’s too bad.

BILL MOYERS: But does a society need heroes?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes, I think so.


So does it mean, it all evolves to nurture than nature?

May be we should bring up our children with some basic lessons:

That to be human means to be considerate and compassionate.

That the world needs the true riches of the great human heroic soul.

A hero who respects another’s rights as equal to his/her own. Who will act to protect and not harm. Who will not abstain from a helping hand when he/she can.

Maybe then the absurdity of believing in a sense of entitlement due to  x, y or z ( gender, skin colour, riches, nationality, position, stature, power, x, y, z..) will cease and the ability to commit atrocities with impunity on ‘others’ will stop.

I would love to read about a true hero soon.



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