Thursday, February 21, 2008

Memories of a Survivor - Part 3

Video of my mother's recollections from her unpublished memoir,
"The Next Chapter." Her focus is not only the Holocaust, but the psychological toll of trying to readapt to a "normal" society. She also speculates about the Nazis' use of mind control and experiments in psychological terrorism on captives.
Mind games, returning to a hostile home, and reflections on God.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Memories of a Survivor - Part 2

More of my mother's recollections, focusing on techniques she observed by the Nazis for breaking down human will and ego and creating a slave labor force.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Memories of a Survivor

My mother wrote an unpublished memoir about her experiences under the Nazis called "The Next Chapter", because it mainly focused on the psychological difficulties of "readjustment" to a "normal" life. These are some portions of a video interview I conducted before her death.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thoughts on the Holocaust

The central issue of my life has been how - if God exists - two people as incredibly loving and wonderful as my parents could have been subjected to the horrors they experienced.

Jewish thinkers like Dennis Prager have addressed this point - Prager --- argues that Jews that use the Holocaust as a reason not to believe in God are intellectually dishonest because other similar atrocities have happened throughout history . So what? I don't see that as an explanation - that nonJewish-related evil also existed so the Holocaust is what, nothing special? Hardly an explanation likely to make me embrace an angry anthropomorphic God.

And besides, as my mother told me many times, Jews were not the only victims of the Holocaust - generally free thinkers - homosexuals, communists, gypsies, Catholics - anyone who resisted "the program" were subject to extermination.

Interestingly my father still attributed his survival to his Jewish faith, while my mother completely lost her belief in any human-like higher being or power.

I have struggled with this for decades and have come to the point, like many of my contemporaries, of abandoning organized "religion" entirely.

Recently I have become exposed to a new set of ideas which have led me to the certainty that higher levels of intelligence and Life exist, and that we are subject to these forces.

I believe that technology has given us both the tools to understand, and serves as a metaphor for the existence of such higher forces - as we decode the genome we get a sense of the level of powerful intelligence required for the forces of evolution to work as they have over eons of time.

But how do we reconcile the existence of higher powers of Intelligence and Life with human barbarity? I think the answer may lie in animals as another metaphor.

When I think of the horrific world of the Nazis and the experience of my parents, I am taken by the image of ANTS. When I see nature programs of the ravages of army ants and similar insect populations slaughtering and enslaving others, I cannot see EVIL.

But is the ant barbarism genocide? Perhaps, but I see an automatic (programmed) lower form of life doing what it does.

As a child I watched with horror Disney's Living Desert where a wasp stings a spider, renders it paralyzed, and lets its babies devour the helpless spider alive.

Is this evil? No this is what Life has programmed it to do with incredible levels of intelligence beyond human comprehension.

Man, however, is the animal that can choose, can love or hate, or can revert to an automatic barbaric subhuman level of animalistic inhumanity.

Man is more and more responsible (with the growth of technology) for the environment in which animals and humans coexist.

Man may develop a conscience and act lovingly if he raises his or her level of being and influence life around him to evolve and thrive, or revert and die.

For example, man has allowed certain animals to live in his environment. In their native state, cats and dogs might be tigers or wolves. In a nurturing human environment they respond to the conscious and conscience in humans and act lovingly, manifesting in many ways the higher aspects of human beings.

But in the wild, they simply do what they were programmed to do, survive, unable by their lower nature to be receptacles and purveyors of Life energy or love. That is why killing a cougar that has ventured into "civilization" in order to survive, is appalling to many of us. We recognize that it is doing simply what Life has programmed it to do.

But humans have the ability to go either way. Their nature is determined elsewhere - be it will, conscience, heart, heredity, environment, genetics - the complexity of possibilities is endless.
Experiments in which subjects have applied torture to others simply because they were told to do so by an "expert" or "authority" show that man can either embrace a higher level of being - perhaps it takes a level of discipline or intellect and love - or be an animal - refuse responsibility, deny a conscience, and simply perform automatically - be an ANT.

Nazis learned how to program their people in this way. On a certain level they were responsible for their horrific actions but in their low level of being they were simply insect life forms inhabiting human bodies.

So how do we change ourselves to become higher life forms, incapable of genocide?

The answer to me may be in the concept of evolution. We must use technology as a lesson for how programming can lead to de-evolution (loss of responsiblity or conscience) while at the same time using the connections and immense power of technology to continue to evolve, and share the higher levels of being within us with others of our species.

The survival of our species is by no means guaranteed.

My reading has convinced me that the secret, if there is one, to such evolution is in a recognition of levels of consciousness that literally affect a reality we create through our lives and exchanges of energy with our environment and other beings.

Perhaps our task on earth is to be the intermediary of evolution so that wolf energy becomes dog energy (loving), and similarly cougar energy may evolve into cat energy - metaphorically or literally - alternatively leading to the absence of life - extinction - darkness and lack of light (evil, hate, or whatever human terminology or language may apply).

If you are interested in these ideas I highly recommend Mani Bhaumik's book Code Name God. Dr. Bhaumik is a man who went from the lowest caste in India, met Ghandi, and became a co-inventor of the Lasik laser technology, among other things. Acquiring immense wealth, he realized the shortcomings or a materially based life and investigated eastern thought from the perspective of a brilliant scientific mind. I find his analysis and suggestion that a unified field theory which may have existed at or prior to the beginning of Time (Big Bang) is analogous to the monotheistic concept of One source of Creation, and the scientific evidence that its vibration is still audible and present throughout the universe, quite an impressive synthesis of scientific and religious thought.

Another book that I have found immensely powerful is Jacob Needleman's "Why Can't We Be Good?". Needleman is a subtle proponent of some powerful ancient ideas and in this book he uses a classroom environment and his own impressive scholarship to make them accessible to readers and students.

These books and others have led me to the threshold of reconciling the paradox of a conscious and loving universal law with the reality of human cruelty. The task of man is to mediate between the animal and higher levels by living in harmony with higher levels of being, and not reverting to the programming of his physical and mental components. The higher center in man does exist, but it must be nurtured and fed with the right types of energy, and only in this way can humanity truly become human, and not live according to its insect nature.

The important thing to realize is that these are not metaphorical or figurative concepts - they are actually what is taking place on this planet through us at this moment in Time.

Attack of the Updates

Got Flash? Everyone does but it still requires a new update and occasional reboot.
Today my Vista Dell box choked on my wireless, and during my reboot my Flash update wanted to be installed - again. Then my system crashed completely.

Vista went into some kind of Restore thingee - which did not go to an option to restore to a former point as promised - and instead promised to "fix" my problem. Cancel was NOT an option. While it did its thing I mentally calculated where all my latest versions of backup were.

Miraculously it came back, offering to tell me what happened. Alas, the screen was the same useless set of files that XP used to offer, but then - shazzam - a dialog box informed me that the culprit was --- my LogiTech webcam - which needed - an UPDATE!

I clicked the link and instead of going to the proper location (which I know I could go to if I just did the update all programs thingee) I went to the main Logitech and of course the have a gazillion different web cams. I guess I will do this later - after I actually get to do - my work?

Meanwhile Flash is a mystery. Is it updated and does it need a reboot? Go figure. And then, on the desktop, come the periodic windows begging me to update/install iTunes/QuickTime.

You would wonder what the 'founding fathers' who wrote the Constitution would make of all this?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Real Meaning of "Survivor"

While watching football I could not help but be assaulted by promotions for the finale of the hit show, Survivor.

For me the term survivor has always had special significance because my parents were both actual survivors of the Holocaust. My father somehow made it through World War II, and my mother was selected to live by Mengele at Auschwitz and managed to be liberated after building airplanes as a slave laborer.

But sometimes when I am watching TV and reference to survivors of the Holocaust is mentioned, I can almost hear the collective groan in the audience – no one wants to hear about it anymore. Not the Jews again.

Still, my mother often pointed out how in her horrific past, it wasn't just the Jews, but also homosexuals, gypsies, dissidents and Communists who were systematically exterminated.

So why are people in general so tired of hearing about the Holocaust – and why is anti-Semitism so clearly on the rise? Just this week there was a brawl in the NY subway when someone said “Happy Hanukkah” in response to “Merry Christmas”, and a house in Miami was covered with Nazi graffiti.

The question remains: why are the Jews targets and why are they so despised? Certainly the perpetuated story of our killing Jesus is one reason but remember that Jesus himself was a Jew. And of course a great deal of the tension in the world can be attributed at least superficially to the presence of Israel in the midst of hostile neighbors.

So my alternative theory came about while watching "Survivor" for the first time. It occurred to me how surprised I would be if a Jew had ever actually participated in that show.

I could almost hear the dialog, “You want me to jump into that swamp? Are you insane?" Are the worms and cockroaches kosher?

Of course Jews might have written the show, but if they did, they went on strike. But the fact that I can write this openly and that Jews can be satirized in this way, and everyone will laugh, is what makes them targets.

We can take a joke. We have had no choice.

Sure, if someone says we like to Jew down the price, we may get offended. And we have the Anti-Defamation League for serious abuse – like cross burnings and murder. But most of us will shrug a stupid Jew joke off as ignorance. Plus we don’t like to fight (except the Israelis) – we’d rather go out and eat Chinese. Seriously stupid remarks by the likes of Jesse Jackson years ago will ruffle some feathers, but most of the Jews remain socially liberal and let’s face it, we love basketball.

Everyone else takes themselves very seriously and they become offended if their group is ridiculed for even its most innocuous foibles or stereotypes. Evil and hostile blacks and Arabs are hard to find on politically correct media, and even though uptight Christians have taken their lumps lately, they are quick to respond with evangelical alacrity. Look at the lawyers – they tried to pass legislation against jokes at their expense.

The Jews? They write the stuff themselves. At a comedy course I took years ago the teacher said, “Think Jewish, write gentile” – in other words, take full advantage of all of the neuroses and annoying traits you see in your (fellow) Jews and attribute them to non-Jews. People will laugh.

Name a character Finkelstein or Goldstein and you can make him the butt of almost anything.

But people who identify strongly with interest groups don't quite get it. What is it with the Jews - don't they understand that existence is serious business?

Gays can make fun of other gays, but no one else can. Ditto blacks, women, muslims, latinos – you name it.

Which brings me back to that “reality show” - Survivor. Isn’t anyone laughing at this show? These people are in “tribes”? They have serious psychological strategies? I’ll do this so they’ll think that and then this person will no longer be friends with her. I got past most of this stuff in high school.

Come to think of it, that’s why the show is obviously a success. Many of us peaked in high school.

But let’s face it, any Jew on that show is behind the camera. Wherever it’s being shot, we’re staying at the Holiday Inn.

Come to think of it, that’s probably why everyone else is pissed off.