Modern life is full of cruelty and violence. The pores of social life are imbued with them. Almost not a single roundup of radio and television, no newspaper edition cannot do without the message of the next brutal crime committed, or contemplated act of terrorism. More and more twisted scenes of brutality, violence, terror, and fear are offered to the audience through art. Although often interactions with other people are not violent or aggressive, human behavior is still a source of physical and mental suffering. One can say that at the present stage of the historical development of mankind, the “dark side” of human nature somehow remarkably increased and is out of control.
Often brutal actions are possible due to the complete indifference to others. The modern reality is that every individual is locked into his own little world or inner circle. However, this notion is still quite optimistic, for it is believed that a new phase in the history of society has begun – the era of individualism. Humanity lives through the second individualist revolution, accompanied by the personalization process. A society where general indifference, alienation and proprietary attitude of people towards each other are reigning arose.
Alienation, in turn, is not only a factor contributing to violence but also a consequence of this phenomenon. Aloof attitude also serves as a kind of psychological reaction to events, not allowing a person to lose their mind with fear for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. As a result, there is an effect of tolerance of violence.
In other words, the increasing level of violence in everyday life and tolerance of people towards it makes the study even more relevant. Now, when it is possible to manipulate the huge masses of people, it is especially important to understand what the nature of human cruelty and destructiveness is. The analysis of the phenomenon of violence is intended to clarify a number of aspects of aggression and violence, to reveal the human side of these phenomena and to outline the prospects for their further study.
There are different kinds of human violence, but there is one which left the most remarkable sign throughout human history. This is religious violence. For ages, people performed violent actions that led to great suffering, often using religion to justify this cruelty. One of the brightest examples of such matters can be Medieval Europe, where church-controlled almost every aspect of human life, using the Bible as guidance.
The history of the Bible cannot be understood adequately without paying attention to biblical texts that mention the bloodshed, including human victims. The Bible indicates that believers most often pay for sins with the lives of their children. The Holy Scripture pronounces: “Prepare slaughter for children for the iniquity of their fathers”. All classes of Hebrew society were attending human sacrifices. This was done by those who indulged in paganism, and those who served Yahweh as well. Judge Jephthah sacrificed his beautiful daughter to God. David ordered to hang seven boys during a period of adversity. The prophet Ezekiel accused his mistress: “But you have murdered my sons by guiding them through the fire”. Finally, God let his Son Jesus Christ be crucified.
The cult of violence is reflected in the biblical concept of “holy war”. Even in heaven, the ancient Jews saw the well-armed army. Battles described in the Bible often involve God and the angels. In this war, the concept fits an idea of equalizing justice, according to which God determines who fell in battle in vain, and who is guilty. The words of the enemies in it were fatal: “Do not be afraid of them: for your God shall fight for you”. The concept of “holy war” ends with the apocalyptic myth of Armageddon, the battle between God and Satan, which communicates directly with the fate of believers. The war appears as a religious duty.
Thus, the Bible contains too many texts with vivid examples that justify violence and cruelty. In modern conditions biblical ideas, images are often used to refer to the most terrible crimes. Famous writers and publicists are comparing Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and the Bible, personal files of Himmler are called the “Devil’s Bible”, and Rosenberg’s book “The Myth of the XX century” – the tablets of Nazi hatred. The fascists themselves perceived Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” as a fetish. They sought from the German population mystical worship before it.
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The most complete expression of an apology of the Bible is found in a police state, where the impact on the population is inspired by the church and clerics. Every aspect of human life has undergone censorship, including techniques and methods of interpretation of the Bible. In the era when the feudal system of clericalism ruled, Catholic persecution of their opponents was justified in “The Hammer of Witches”, which was a handbook for inquisitors. The authors of this book, fanatical monks and theologians Kramer and Sprenger wrote that in “The Hammer of Witches” there is nothing that they had not borrowed from the Bible and the writings of the “fathers of the church”.
At all times, religion has been and remains the most dangerous and powerful branch of fanaticism. Faith always blinds religious zealots, so they are willing to take something for the absolute and unconditional subdue. Religious fanaticism finds fertile ground in the minds of people who are not prone to critical thinking, making it similar to the phenomenon of the crowd; and it was always a crowd that made this phenomenon widespread and rampant.
At its core, fanaticism is the denial of the rights of others, rejection of other opinions, beliefs, customs and values, lack of understanding and agreement between “us” and “others”. In the end, it is a violation of a reasonable relationship between the collision and harmonization of interests. Fanaticism is related to the fact that is not taken into account and rejected, causing feelings such as hatred and anger, accompanied by a manifestation of intolerance and rejection. Bigotry is based on the belief that the “other” is always the enemy, real or potential.
Religious fanaticism is rooted in absolutist claims common to all world religions, the exclusive possession of the truth of the main, on which the salvation or destruction of the human race depends. It turns people into a means of asserting religion, mobilizes and throws them to fight the real and imaginary enemies. Fanatics are convinced of the superiority of their faith over the other. Reckless fanatic adherence to the idea of the absolute superiority of their religion over others becomes blind, unconscious, and ill-considered.
Thus, the essential characteristics of religious fanaticism are endless devotion to faith, self-identification with the religious idea, intolerance to other religious ideas, willingness to sacrifice and demand of sacrifice from others for the triumph of their religion. The abovementioned is not related to religious people having common sense (such absolute majority), but only to a small part of the faithful, which introduces elements of hostility in their own religious environment.
A prerequisite for any progress, including the spiritual, is dissatisfaction with what has been achieved. Frustration leads to attempts to transform oneself or the environment so that it matches someone else’s wishes. If the transforming effects are focused primarily on the environment, it is expressed in an attempt to produce the desired change in others. The human being is constantly subjected to the influence of the urge for anything. If enforcement is carried out by means of force and violence, and if there is a tendency to suppress all dissent, it can be called fanaticism.
As the man is a creature with the herd (public) instinct, that is, the desire to belong to a social group and be recognized by it, the social impact in most cases develops suppleness and pliability, which, for their part, are also prerequisites of social existence. Society can exist only in circumstances where its components are subject to certain limitations, the general ideas and agree to limit their personal freedoms.
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Besides the desire to be socially adapted, the person also needs to elevate himself to become an object of admiration, deserve honor and respect. Close to it and the desire to subjugate, dominate the desire to possess the power. This is the mentality of a fanatic: he always seeks to dominate their views on the views of others and obey their own.
If such an individual feels that he was not perceived, admired or respected in the group, his vanity may make him annoyed. Then the individual labels all views and ideas unkind, false, ridiculous or worthless, and even denies the effectiveness of the social environment, which refuses to recognize him. But as the desire to be accepted and recognized does not disappear, it must find other sources for its satisfaction. It develops or borrows from someone else philosophical ideas and views on how the society and the environment should look like. The validity of these theories does not necessarily play a central role in building it. Individuals, suffering from non-recognition, may then unite in organizations, political parties, terrorist group or something similar and then try to change the social environment. Values, ideas and truths of fiction fanatics are often created by the best of intentions and goals. Their supporters may be true idealists. However, it may happen that the idealist doubts the validity, effectiveness and practicality of his ideas, and out of fear that his ideas would be exposed as false, impossible or impractical, or they would be subjected to critical analysis; he attempts to prevent or suppress any criticism. He finds it necessary to protect his ideas at any cost, even if the facts are against them because he cannot survive if it is proved that his ideas are false.
A fanatic believes he has the best understanding, knowledge or even a divine revelation in terms of how the world should be, and that he is elected – whether by himself, his team, or some r superhuman beings – to change the society and the world in accordance with this understanding, knowledge or revelation.
It can be said that despite numerous studies, the nature of human violence is not yet clearly defined. Apparently this is due not only to the fact that each approach considers a separate aspect of the problem but also due to the ambivalence of the phenomenon of aggression. The most comprehensive and profound, we know of, is the approach which distinguishes benign, adaptive aggression (a phylogenetic framework that seeks to preserve life) and malignant aggression (appears in the historical development of mankind in relation to biological and existential dichotomy and is rooted and in the characters of specific individuals).
Cruelty is the estimated concept, and the evaluation of specific actions depends on subjective moral views and beliefs that assess its social and cultural amenities. Moreover, the assignment of an act to the “cruel” or “not cruel” depends not so much on the subject of assessments – these assessments themselves depend fully on the psychological atmosphere in society, its values, and the nature of morality, notions of good and evil.
In general, it can be said that cruelty is associated with “a measure of humanity”, typical for the hierarchy of the specific cultural and historical system. It features a public assessment of certain actions, attitudes, and qualities; both natural and that arise in the course of culture. Yet, a particular person is the true bearer of cruelty. The moral personality assessment is based on the recognition of individual guilt and responsibility of a man. Cruelty suggests a lack of quality in the subject of “humanity” (compassion, empathy, mercy, etc.), and the epithets of “animal cruelty”, “cruel laws of nature“ just state the absence of these qualities in the object estimate. Every nation and every age produces its measure of acceptable violence and suffering within the boundaries which preserve the dignity of the human being.
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