Men die, cattle die; only the glory of heroes lives forever.
And on the subject of Syria, the woman who sits next to me - a New Zealander named 'Mel', who travels over the world, is very positive all the time, will undoubtedly meet a sticky end - she's going to visit Syria in a few weeks. She is going to Turkey and Syria and a third country in that area, I can't remember the name. The Lebanon, that's it, as in the song by The Human League. Who won, when the soldiers went? I asked this question of some friends of mine a while back and they did not know either. I think perhaps the Human League were trying to make the point that no-one wins in a war, that the only way to win is not to play, although this is nonsense. If you are not a footballer, somebody will use your head as a football. And it's better to be the manager. The players kill each other and the spectators in the stadium die of thirst, but the managers, the coaches, the press, and the people watching on television have beer and coaches, the modern equivalent of bread and circuses.
And Mel is also off to the bit of sea between the Sinai peninsular - which is apparently still littered with burnt-out Egyptian / Syrian tanks, and perhaps preserved munitions, if you're feeling brave - and Saudi Arabia, which didn't attack Israel and is On Our Side, at least the people in charge are. The peasants are Not On Our Side, but then again the same is true in England, too. Indeed there are probably more people in England who are Not On Our Side than are On Our Side, judging by the continued existence of Ken Livingstone and Peter Mandelson, the devil witches.
But still, Syria! Although not on the 'axis of evil' it is nonetheless a similar motion. It is a 'Satellite of Evil'. Has George W Bush defined 'evil' yet? 'Morally bad or wrong' according to dictionary.com, and also 'anything which impairs the happiness of a being or deprives a being of any good; anything which causes suffering of any kind to sentient beings; injury; mischief; harm'. In which case many things are evil. My landlord is evil. He impairs my happiness and deprives me of any good, and causes suffering and mischief. In a right-thinking world I would be allowed to kill this man, for he has produced no good save for himself, and he is evil, and thus the good he collects is drawn into his pit of evil and perverted. Yet more reason for him to die. There is no punishment in the afterlife, no heaven or hell. He must suffer in this life, whilst he can still feel. It's better to cripple somebody for life than kill them. That way they will never forget. I don't know for what God is punishing Christopher Reeve, but it must be bad.
According to the Jargon File, evil 'implies that some system, program, person, or institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother of dealing with'. I agree with this. Some things are not worth the time and trouble required to put them right, which is why the death penalty is potentially a Godsend, if only it could be administered quickly and cheaply and in greater volume. We are all sick, each and every one of us, and triage must be applied to the sickest of the human animals. Some people are expectant. They are uneconomical to treat when there are so many others who can be saved and improved. If the state performs the killing act, the evil is dissipated. By abrogating responsibility to an institution, individuals can perform evil acts without themselves being evil. Thus, the death penalty is an evil act, in the service of good, but the evil belongs to no-one. It grounds itself into the earth. Good prevails. That is what the state us for, essentially; to allow good men to perform evil acts with impunity. That is why so many people fight to preserve the state, because it lets them have their fun without redress. The power to kill without responsibility or justice, the ultimate aim of all men. L'etat, c'est moi.
What sanctity has life in this world? In countries across the world people kill each other for fun, for entertainment, in great quantities. In Bangladesh people die because they can't wait for the next riverboat. The militia in Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of Congo give themselves fancy sc-fi names and initials - 'Ninja', 'HOS', 'Cobra', 'NSK' - and fight for no reason, just as the kings and dukes of fuedal Europe, or the gangsters in our cities, fought and fight over minor slights, either real or imagined. The government of Burma - I panicked! - are currently confining a short, thin woman to prison because they are scared of her. Individuals and groups of every sector of human society are murdered every day across the world, for no reason.
I myself have always wanted to kill a large amount of people in one go - 'spree killing' - perhaps because news of the Hungerford Massacre affected me greatly, coming as it did when I was ten years old. Michael Ryan was not himself an attractive figure, and the thought of emulating his massacre did not appeal to me, but it must have planted a seed in my mind because I find it hard not to see a crowded tube carriage and imagine what it would be like to throw in a grenade, to compress a lifetime of low-level emotion for a few moments of ecstacy. My perfectionist streak would want to use several grenades, or a larger charge, but really these are just the ramblings of a powerless man, a weak man, a man who must resort to sneak attacks in order to project force, a man incapable of a sustained fight against a prepared opponent. The only solution is to attack from behind an unprepared opponent, with sufficient force to nullify resistance. All people are opponents. They frown their bad looks at me. I need to lose a lot of weight before people will take me seriously. Fat people are the only sector of society open to uncorrect abuse, but that suits me fine, because I cannot be despised any more than I am, no matter what I do.
The only thing which stops this world being a paradise is the unwillingness of people to act against evil. People take the easy path, the lazy path, the path of tolerance. The idea seems to be that evil is generated, whereas goodness is the natural state, and that inaction will therefore produce more and more goodness. But there are three states - inaction, bad action, and good action. Children are naturally amoral, and are thus capable of monstrous acts purely because they do not realise that there is good and bad. Unguided children become monsters just as surely as brutalised children become monsters, because they are not taught good from bad. Of course, there is objectively no 'good' or 'bad' or 'evil' because they are just dictionary words, made-up words for made-up ideas, but this is not a valid counterargument because, as human beings, we make our own world.
This is the crux of my argument; good and evil are made by human beings because we can. Their precise definitions might change over time but people change too; there is no final answer or end state, all is flux forever and we must fight the battle as it is, on the battlefield we have brought ourselves to. Nature is not guided, and it is not good or bad; it is entirely indifferent to all suffering and pain. As thinking, reasoning people, we can choose not to be indifferent. We can take arms and end the slings and arrows. We can choose to be good.
Tolerance is lazy, it leads to more and more evil, until the victims and society become desensitised to evil, and evil wins, and we all live in numbed fear forever. Tolerance is a comfortable option. We need to be less tolerant, quicker to anger. People who relax and take life easy, whether consciously or under the influence of drugs, have been beaten. Criminals - mobsters, intimidators, assaulters, murderers - rule the streets because we tolerate them. If we did not tolerate them we would wipe them from the face of the earth inside a week. We must be knights of the long knives, states unto ourselves, capable of passing responsibility to the institutions we create in our own minds, free of doubt or guilt.