Angra Mainyu

It is corrupting to the soul, says Nietzsche, to hold in higher esteem those who think alike to us than those who don’t. The demand does strike me as somewhat ridiculous — not because it is false, but rather because it goes against human nature. Perhaps akin to demanding that one should be sexually attracted to a pile of bricks. Absurd.

To regard our adversaries as mere men is so daunting a task, a rule which applies universally in tougher, more serious matters. Religious views, as an instance: it will spoil the game for the creationists, say, to think of the late Charles Darwin as a mere scientist (quasi-spiritual one at that), instead of a cunning conspirator with little scientific credentials and a link to the Illuminatis — Baphomet in a tutu tattooed on his buttocks. This goes both ways of course; it feels challenging to many atheists to regard apologists as less than sophists. For some, it’s somehow not enough that a teaching is wrong, it too, somehow, needs to be omninous and ignorant, a plague to humanity. In religious traditions, unbelievers are often branded as morally corrupt. No noble savages (there is Islam’s Abu Talib, but he goes to hell anyway, which makes it worse). In politics, Republicans think Democrats eat puppies and vice versa. Everything is booleanish. The premise is clear; there’s something wrong with people who disagreed with you. Of course, they could simply be wrong, and you completely right; but the paranoia is sweet.

Conversely, we have little trouble in practicing the “live and let live” principle when it comes to, say, culinary tastes (though I tend to be very hostile to those that dislike nasi Padang, but that’s another story). How different it is from the realm of the “serious”, which teems with prejudices. How fervent our hatreds. Which, of course, makes sense. But that’s what makes it sad. Because it makes sense to be hostile.

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