Posts Tagged With: eugenics

Equality and Diversity of Humans…and Elves?

Fantasy tales are often populated with a wide array of beings. Elves, humans and dwarves are a common trio, along with trolls, orcs and countless other variations. Not all authors have filled their stories with these fantastic races to purposely tell stories of diversity or race-relations.  However, long before terms like diversity were buzzing in everyone’s minds, two masters of fantasy had made a statement on equality among people. Joseph Loconte writes in A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War:

[J.R.R.] Tolkien and [C.S.] Lewis encountered the horrific progeny of [eugenics] in the trenches and barbed wire and mortars of the Great War [World War I] — and it gave them great pause about human potentiality…the characters in their novels possess a great nobility, creatures endowed with a unique capacity for virtue, courage, and love. Indeed, a vital theme throughout is the sacred worth of the individual soul in Middle-Earth and Narnia, every life is of immense consequence.

The “races” of Narnia and Middle-Earth are very much like us, always at odds with each other: Elves hate dwarves; elves look down on humans; hobbits are obviously different from their larger human cousins; orcs once were elves.  And yet the fellowship of the ring throws together polar opposite, feuding races in a quest to the save the world.

Against all odds, they succeeded.  A powerful message among the many in these stories.

Tolkien and Lewis began writing during a time when eugenics was on the rise. This misuse of science and philosophies pretending to be science was rationale to cleanse humanity of undesirable races, beliefs or attributes. People remember the result of this horror in World War II under the Nazis, yet don’t know that this thinking had been promoted among the “elite” thinkers and governments across the world for decades.

While many many post-WWI writers saw hopelessness, and others turned to Progress as a god to right humanity, Tolkien and Lewis saw the importance of every life. They wrote of evil that couldn’t be reasoned away — and could be hidden behind “science” and “progress.” The equality of peoples doesn’t automatically equate to the equality of ideas and actions. Even Tolkien’s “dreadful orcs are presented as rational beings” — but being rational isn’t the same as being on the side of virtue.

Middle-Earth and Narnia showed how mankind, even with its capacity for wrong, has innate qualities that can defeat the most terrible of evils; qualities that transcend superficial differences among people, and show that we are much more than a result of randomness and fate.

Advertisements
Categories: Books, fantasy, History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warnings From the Third Reich

During the 1990s, as 50th year anniversaries of World War II began to come around, accounts of the war filled bookstores, television and film. Veterans who had said little for decades were now telling their stories. Some have wondered why in the years since so much attention has focused on studying Hitler. His motivations. His past. Attempt after attempt to figure out why and how he rose to power. Some think the attention is overdone.

The focus on Hitler isn’t entirely about him. It is also very much about the place. In 1945, as the Germans looked around them at their destroyed nation, more than one had to ask, “How did it come to this?”

Indeed, that is why Hitler and his Reich are studied so much. It all unfolded in nation made up of people very much like us.

Sure World War I, social chaos and the wild economies of the 1930s set the stage for Hitler’s rise. But Germany wasn’t a backwater, tribal nation ripe for a dictator. Germany was a sophisticated western nation with a deep history and a society of technology, intellect and culture.

Yet Hitler still led them down a path of ruin where tens of millions would die. He led a Reich that excelled in horror, destruction and death.

This is why the story of Hitler must be studied and remembered. Evil just doesn’t rise in nations of radicals and extremists. Do yourself a favor and check out the course, History of Hitler’s Empire or this classic volume.

And here look at the philosophies that gave rise to the Reich, which are growing again in our world:

More on those troubling times can be read here. Be vigilant, because wherever you live in this world, do not think evil cannot arise there and take hold. Make sure you don’t ever find yourself in the position to ask, “How did it come to this?”

Categories: History, Modern History | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: