Readers have commented on the article “The Institute of Historical Revisionism is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong” reminding me that while we are all individuals, ‘no man is an island unto himself’. We are social beings – and have always been social beings.
Yes, of course that truth is recognised but the matter doesn’t end there. Christianity teaches us that we are to ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. *
One can read in http://www.dictionary.com:
“This so-called golden rule is stated in just about every ancient writing about behavioural precepts (including the New Testament, Talmud, Koran, and the Analects of Confucius). Among the earliest appearances in English is Earl Rivers' translation of a saying of Socrates (Dictes and Sayenges of the Philosophirs, 1477): “Do to other as thou wouldst they should do to thee, and do to none other but as thou wouldst be done to.” It is so well known that it is often shortened".
*A command based on words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount : “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
The Mosaic law contains a parallel commandment: “Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person”.”
Clifford H. Douglas wrote on this matter outlining the point that in the 20th century whilst we understand we are individuals we must not confuse the term individuality with the modern meaning of individualism which contains the meaning of ‘selfish, self-centred’ i.e., a person who uses other people for his own benefits.
According to the Christian concept of the individual, there is a trinitarian balance of the free, moral and responsible person.
Leo Tolstoy in “On Life” (1888) brings out the balance:
“….Humanity has recognized from the earliest days the contradiction of life. Wise men who have enlightened humanity, have given to the world definitions of life explaining this intrinsic contradiction, but the Pharisees and Scribes conceal it.
That which presents itself in the first place to man as the sole aim of life, is the happiness of his own individuality; but for the individuality, happiness cannot exist. And even when there may occur in his life something which resembles happiness, yet that life in which alone happiness is possible, the life of the individuality, is itself dragged irresistibly with every movement, with every breath, towards suffering, evil, death and destruction! And this is so evident, so clear, that all men who think, young and old, educated and ignorant, must know it. This argument is so simple, so natural that it comes to the mind of every intelligent man, and humanity has known it from the most remote times.
The life of man, as an individuality, aiming only at its own particular welfare among the infinite number of similar individualities who destroy each other and annihilate themselves, that life is an evil and nonsense — and the true life cannot be of this nature.
From the earliest times man has said this to himself, and the philosophers of India, of China, of Egypt, of Greece, and the Hebrews have spoken in the most powerful and lucid terms, on this intrinsic contradiction. From the distant past the human mind has been endeavouring to find for man a happiness of such a nature that neither the strife of beings among themselves, nor sufferings, nor death, can destroy it.
It is in bringing into view more and more clearly this happiness of man, which is sure and incapable of being destroyed by strife, suffering, or death, that consists all the advance of humanity since we have known life. From the most remote period and among the most diverse peoples, the great teachers of humanity have revealed to men clearer and yet clearer definitions of life, explaining its intrinsic contradiction, and have pointed out to them what is for man true happiness and true life. And as in this world all men are in the same condition, it follows that all find the same contradiction existing between their longing for personal welfare and their consciousness of the impossibility of attaining to it, so that all the definitions of true happiness and consequently of true life, taught to men by the great minds of humanity, are identical in their very essence.
• "Life is a journey and a perfecting of souls, which will enter further and further into felicity," the Brahmins have said from
the earliest times.
• “Life is the diffusion of that light which came down from heaven for the good of humanity,” said Confucius some six hundred years before Christ.
• “Life is the abnegation of self in order to gain the happiness of Nirvana,” said Buddha, the contemporary of Confucius.
• “Life is the way of meekness and humility for obtaining good,” said another contemporary of Confucius, Lao-Tzu.
• “Life is what God has breathed into the nostrils of man so that in following His law he shall attain the good,” said the Hebrew sage.
• “Life is that obedience to reason which gives happiness to men,” said the Stoics.
• “Life is the love of God and of your neighbour, which brings happiness to man," said Christ, summing up in his definition of all those which preceded it.
Such are the definitions of life, which for thousands of years have solved the contradiction of human life and given it a reasonable meaning by showing men real and indestructible happiness in place of the unreal and elusive happiness of individuality. ..
But besides those who have understood and who do understand the definitions of life revealed to humanity by the great men who have shed light upon it, there always has been and there is an immense majority of men who during part of their life, sometimes even during their whole life, have lived and do live only the animal life, and not only do not understand the definitions which help to solve the contradiction of human life, but do not even see the contradiction which they solve.
The Practices of Ceremonies
And there have always been and there are yet, amongst these men, other men who, in consequence of their exceptional position in the world, believe themselves called to guide humanity, and, not understanding the meaning of human life themselves, have taught and are teaching to other men the meaning of this life which they do not understand, declaring that human life is nothing else than individual existence.
These false doctors have always existed and exist still in our day. Some profess in words the doctrines of these leaders of humanity in whose traditions they have been trained; but, being strangers to the actual meaning of those doctrines, they transform them into supernatural revelations about the past and future life of men, contenting themselves with demanding the practice of ceremonies. This is, in its largest acceptation, the teaching of the Pharisees, that is to say of men who profess that life, absurd in itself, can be amended by the belief in another life to be gained by the practice of external ceremonies.
Others, refusing to admit the possibility of any other life than
that which they see, deny every kind of miracle, all that is supernatural, and declare boldly that the life of man is nothing else
than his animal existence, from birth to death.
Such is the doctrine of the Scribes, the people who teach that in the life of man, as well as in that of the animal, there is nothing unreasonable. And these false doctors of both kinds, notwithstanding that their doctrines have for their basis one and the same gross ignorance of the essential contradiction of human life, have always quarrelled and quarrel still among themselves.
These two kinds of teaching are dominant in our world, and both, hostile to each other, fill it with their disputes, hiding from men, behind these same disputes, those definitions of life which reveal the way of the true welfare of men, given to humanity thousands of years ago.
The Pharisees, not understanding the definition of life given to men by the masters in whose traditions they have been trained, replace it by their false interpretations of the future life, and endeavour at the same time to hide from men the definitions of life given by the other masters of humanity, presenting them to their disciples mangled in a most gross and brutal manner, believing that they will thus maintain the exclusive authority of the doctrine on which they base their interpretations.
The unity of the reasonable meaning of the definitions of life given by the other teachers of humanity does not appear to them to be, as it ought to be, the best proof of the truth of their teaching; because this unity, in fact, undermines confidence in their own ridiculous and false interpretations by which they replace the groundwork of the doctrine they teach. The Scribes, without a suspicion even of the true foundation on which the doctrines of the Pharisees have been built, reject categorically all teachings of a future life, and declare without hesitation that these doctrines rest on nothing, are but remnants of rude customs born of ignorance, and that the progress of humanity consists in not asking oneself any questions about life outside of the limits of the animal existence of man…”