The Bran Report

It's good for parts of you that you'd probably rather not think about.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Heroes and Villains

One way to loose my respect very quickly is to build a political message on hating a villain.

Example: Shell is not a satanic cabal, shooting up Nigerian towns for the hell of it. It is, on the other hand, a corporation and like all corporations it decouples personal benefits from personal guilt. There's also the Zimbardo effect: when people are scared and uncertain they fall back on stereotypes for guidance. In Zimbardo's case, normal people started beating folks in their care. In the case of corporate executives, they wear expensive suits and talk about "the bottom line".

People do things for reasons, be they good things or bad things. To claim that someone is just evil is lazy, and I hate that excuse-making.

On the other hand, I'm something of an iconoclast. I love the idea of a hero, but I also have a tendency to look for the flaws in what people offer me. I once got into quite a fight with a Church-of-England friend of mine, because I bad-mouthed Martin Luther. I think the facts support me, though. For one thing, he and I would have had quite a disagreement about the value, or otherwise, of "die verfluchte Huhr".

Martin Luther also turned his wisdom to the questions of how to live in a multicultural society and, although his solution was one of the first and most enduringly popular, we now call it the "Final" solution.

Martin Luther is a prime example of someone who, for whatever reason, hated the light of reason.

And to tie this rambling message together, let's look at an ancient symbol of rationality and wisdom:

"The owl is a dirty bird that prefers darkness to light"


This is either a pleasing symmetry or a case of "No, you are".

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