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Metaphysical Boundaries

Chapter 5
Duck Souls

"Live fast, love hard, and don't let anybody else use your comb."
Arthur Fonzarelli- "The Fonz"
Happy Days

      'if Hitler had never been born...' and other thoughts

©08 Levite
Metaphysical Thesis
Web Published on The Media Desk

[Note: This edition was the longest in production of the entire series, yet it is the shortest in length. You'll see why.]

      What is it about us that inherently recoils when we hear of atrocities from the Middle East? Even some devout Muslims shuddered when they saw the videotape of zealots beheading a helpless hostage in the name of Allah. According to those that actually have read the Islamic Holy Book instead of taking the word of some Iman, 'Jihad' refers to a personal inner struggle to realize Holiness, not the rampant destruction of everything and everybody that isn't Muslim enough for that particular Iman, including other Muslims.
      Yet there are millions of fanatical believers in the violent kind of Jihad. They are killing an entire system of belief and worship for political gains. And of course they are only the most recent example of that practice. We have mentioned before in this series Crusades against Heretics in Southern France, and there was a series of Crusades that rode into Finland from Sweden on a similar mission in the middle of the Thirteenth Century. And during the Reformation in Europe Protestants made a point to destroying a thousand years worth of Catholic art in Central and Northern Europe.
      Is anybody in the mood to discuss the last five hundred years of Irish history? No? OK, we'll move on, Point Made.

      This is section is not about the type of Religious Intolerance we have just highlighted.
      No indeed.
      We shall look a bit deeper.
      How deep?   .... glad you asked.

      If Humans as a species were nothing more than apes with a G.E.D. then shock and horror and regret would not be part of our reaction to the atrocities we just mentioned.
      Instead- we wonder how things like that could be done in the name of God?
      What is GOD, the Person we described in the last chapter as the Ultimate Creator of the Universe, going to say to those guys we just discussed when they finally stand in front of Him for Judgment? (we are still using the male pronoun for the Deity due to lake of anything better)
      That question demands that those hooded thugs screaming at the camera about how righteous their cause is.... which gives them all the justification they need to commit the heinous spectacle they're filming.... those guys have souls. And so does their helpless victim.
      If GOD, as we know Him (again with the male pronoun just because it sounds right) as the Ultimate Definition of GOOD, had something to say about it, would He permit it?
      Well, He probably isn't real happy about it, but He allows it because We are created with Free Will and we are supposed to have a conscious and an innate proclivity toward good. In the case of the fanatical practitioners of whichever religion we wish to trot out at the moment that has 'gone too far' from the People's Temple of Jim Jones (Totalitarian Socialism with a coat of Religious Paint) to the Taliban it would seem that what has gotten screwed up is their definition of Ultimate Good. The guys with the guns in the video we opened with believe they are doing the Right Thing for their God.

      Ultimately, whether or not the real and true actual CREATOR GOD of the UNIVERSE is the same Divinity they had in mind when they got out their decapitation knife is not something we can determine here, therefore that debate is just as pointless as our condemnation of the aforementioned act to those committing it- they see us as infidels only worthy of being a sequel to their latest filmed execution and anything we say is simply taken as evidence as to how corrupt we are and viewed as our own death sentence.
      In our discussions, YHWH is Allah is God is Uncaused First Cause i.e. CREATOR, therefore, is also the God they are extolling as the approver of their behavior and the holder of the 72 virgins they will end up owning when they are finally martyred for the cause. To this writer, and to most of the rest of the world that has actually read the Muslim Holy Book, that is patent nonsense. Yet they believe they are ensuring the entry of their soul into Heaven which is the final determining factor for their actions, and all that matters in the end.

      In chapter two of this work we looked at one of those in charge of the souls of an entire world-wide church (although in about 960 AD the world was somewhat smaller), who led a private life that would most assuredly bring condemnation from the priests in local parishes across the board. Yet John the XII's short reign as Pope (955 - 964) was rampant with charges and counter charges of everything from influence peddling to incest. At one point a synod of bishops indicted John on a host of serious charges and elected a new pope in an attempt to dethrone John, which resulted in some wanton brutality from the Pope against the conspirators when the attempt failed, including having the ears and nose of one of those involved cut off.
      However, the list of charges against the pope were True! The only thing that kept him in office was some behind the scenes wheeling and dealing. Besides simony (selling religious positions and favors for cash or other Earthly gain), he was a proven adulterer, had committed sacrilege in new and inventive ways, he had ordered beatings and murders for his own benefit, then to top that he had broken his sworn oath to the Holy Roman Emperor (whom he himself had crowned) during a war- effectively committing perjury for fun and profit! No wonder he came to an untimely, and unseemly, end.
      But in any case. This guy, John the Twelfth, was the leader of the world's Catholics as the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on the Throne of Saint Peter in the Holy See....
           ... oh, yeah ....

      .... for those of you who are wondering, John died as he had reigned as Supreme Pontiff. Shortly after the mess with the attempt to remove him, he passed on, quite suddenly, at only 27 years of age. Some say he had mortal help leaving this life, others that it was the work of otherworldly powers, in any case, it appears he was stricken with paralysis while in the very act of adultery. Leo the Eighth, who had been elected during the rebellion and reigned, as it were, as Anti-Pope, was seated on the throne after some more intrigue and further intervention by the Emperor, and John passed into history.

      So it would seem that those who are in charge of Our Souls may need some help with their own.
      How is it OK for a Televangelist to tell his followers that God will hear their prayers better if they send a donation to his ministry? Isn't that one of the definitions of Simony? One of the charges against John XII? Benny Hinn, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and others have been accused of selling prayers and healing and even salvation itself. Some of the charges have led to various ministries re-inventing the way they do business and exactly what they call various offerings and donations and the premiums they send to contributors for said monies. Much the way Ol' John re-organized his doings way back when to keep his job with all its perks.
      Seems nothing much has changed in ... a millennium or so.

      Moving on.
      So exactly what is it of ours that those religious leaders are supposed to be overseeing as the caretakers of our soul?
      Is there a part of our being that we are otherwise unaware of that is best defined as 'our soul' (in fancy language 'our Hypostasis', but more on that later). Is it in our unconscious or subconscious mind and it is what is speaking to us in our dreams? Is it something that develops as we do, or is it there from birth or conception, or even before as some groups teach?
      Ahhh, let's come back to those questions and look at the idea and references to it in our culture.

      Let's just look around and see where and how the word 'soul' is used today.

[As with most subjects on the Open Source Encyclopedia, the Wikipedia article on the subject has been edited to reflect a certain bias of a few editors. So we'll ignore it.]

      According to and their commercial....

It is Possible to Find your Soul Mate...
Isn't it time you experienced the joy of falling in love with someone who sees you, loves you, and accepts you for who you are? This is the kind of joy that comes from true compatibility. And true compatibility is what forms the basis for every relationship at eHarmony.Experience the joy of true compatibility. Let eHarmony help you begin the journey to your soul mate today.
Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder

      A look at the term 'soul mate' from the Song of Solomon is presented in part 1 of Chapter Three of this study.

      One of Plato's books relates an even older story in his Symposium, which describes today's humans as half the being they used to be. Each person originally had four legs, four arms, two heads, and was of both sexes at once. Zeus, fearing the creatures, cut them in half. Ever since people have gone about looking for their 'other halves'. Plato's friend Aristophanes related the story quoted in the book with his tongue solidly in his cheek, but the legend itself goes back further and is somewhat serious.
      Pliny the Elder related a related version referring to an African tribe of four legged people. Of course he also related the existence of people in Eastern India that do not eat or drink, existing only on the scents of flowers and wild apples (which is where some of the ideas of the 'Breathians' comes from). All of which is partially explained by the concluding prayer of his massive work:

Greetings, Nature, mother of all creation, show me your favor in that I alone of Rome's citizens have praised you in all your aspects.
Last line of "Natural History"
Gaius Plinius Secundus aka Pliny the Elder 23 - 79 BC

      If we do have a soul. Is it, in whatever form it takes, subject to the laws of the State?
      One from under the heading of 'things you just can't make up'...

  All the reincarnations of living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism must get government approval, otherwise they are "illegal or invalid," China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said in Beijing Friday.
  The regulations require that a temple which applies for reincarnation of a living Buddha must be "legally-registered venues for Tibetan Buddhism activities and are capable of fostering and offering proper means of support for the living Buddha."
  "The selection of reincarnates must preserve national unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups and the selection process cannot be influenced by any group or individual from outside the country, " SARA said.
  "The government only administrate religious affairs related to state and the public interests and will not interfere in the pure internal religious affairs," SARA says.
  The regulations are composed of 14 articles, including the principle, conditions, approval procedures, the duties and responsibilities of religious groups for reincarnation as well as punishment for those violating the regulations.
Updated: 2007-08-04 08:47

      On one hand you could say that the temporal power of the state would be useless against the reincarnation of a 'Living Buddha'. But then again, a serious argument could be made, and perhaps this is the correct forum to make it, that the regulation is recognizing the phenomena of Reincarnation, at least in these specific instances.
      While the reincarnation of individuals such as the Dalai Lama is fairly well documented, there is still room for fraud, and those who refuse to believe that it is even remotely possible dismiss all proofs out of hand. Yet China, as an officially atheist country, seems to be acknowledging that it happens. For evidence we shall hold up both this regulation and the fact that Chinese authorities 'detained' the designated Panchen Lama, the Dalai Lama's second in command, when he was recently identified as a reincarnate Living Buddha, and the young man has not been seen or heard from in over ten years. His fate, if you will allow the pun, is unknown. Meanwhile there is a Chinese Government Approved Panchean Lama who has been on an extended tour of the country with communist party flags flying from his dias.
      As was said.... some things you just cannot make up.

      One more about 'Soul Mates' along the same lines, then we'll move on.
      Edgar Cayce, the American 'Sleeping Prophet' was totally enamored with reincarnation, as well as the legend of Atlantis, and tended to explain things that way.
      The Organization flying his flag today has this on their page on the subject of soul mates.

Some readings suggest that in ancient prehistory, such as the times of Atlantis more than 12,000 years ago, a soul could incarnate in such a way that male and female qualities were manifested simultaneously. It is not clear what form the physical body took in these cases. One person was told in a reading about an Atlantean incarnation: "for then both male and female might be-desired so-in one."

      Enough of that as one can glimpse another entire in depth article on that one use of the term between those few examples.

      In the ancient world the idea of one's soul was totally dependant on the idea of one's life. In fact, the 'essence of life' (what we will call the soul) was deemed to be essential to being totally Alive. In the Mediterranean world animals were seen as being alive, but not in the same way the people were... the Greeks would talk of a person having a hypostasis, and debate whether or not that essence was the soul, but not consider it a valid point with animals. Not as in India where all life was, and is, seen as equal. Some saw the soul of a person as the extreme local example of the Spirits that existed in the outer world and that when the person died, their spirit joined the others, existing in the same time and place as those currently alive just not being able to interact with the living on a routine level, except maybe in the forms of dreams and visions or through spells and incantations of those that could work the magic.
      With primitive tribal religions and philosophies Nature itself was Alive. Spirits of various sorts, including the human dead, inhabited everything from rocks to eagles. Some of these spirits were nasty, others benevolent, still others- indifferent if left alone. One might count on ones ancestors to put in a good word with the higher powers before planting crops or going fishing, but then again, you may have to make offerings to them, or the sea spirits or whatever to placate them.
      We'll hit in passing the idea that some ascetics and others had that the 'essence' of a male would be diminished when he ejaculated during sex. That a man's semen contained some of his soul which was then used to seed the soul of the child. The various holy men would do everything they could to prevent this loss and thusly retain all of their being, or at least as much as possible, including the binding of the testicles to keep from ejaculating during sleep.

      Some ancients believed, and some others do today as well, that the soul was truly immortal, having begun at the creation of the universe and would live on until the universe ceased to exist. Its time in the body was only a small part of its overall existence. Some saw the mortal existence as a sort of classroom for the soul, where it would learn lessons needed to advance on toward some goal. Or possibly being consigned to a human life was a punishment for some infraction somewhere in the past, that the person had to make amends as penance so the soul could return to the better world.
      This reincarnation can include multiple journeys through this life, in both human and animal form in certain Hindu traditions, until the being 'gets it right' and has learned all they need to learn, and so become enlightened, as we have discussed before. Or, if they fail, they will return either as another person or as a lower form or life- poodles and jellyfish, until they do. Some souls apparently have an expiration date and after a certain number of trips through this world, they are consigned to oblivion if they haven't made any progress toward perfection.
      Others, most notably the major Western religions including Islam and most Jewish sects, believe the soul gets one shot at this life to decide its position in Eternity. The person has the responsibility to accept and worship God or that spark of their essence will be sent into the Fire and consumed.
      And then of course you have various cults and alternative religions that teach every variation on the theme you can come up with, and quite possibly a few you'd never even dream of.
      And then there are those that accept that humans are only half bright apes with no soul or future and the Fonz's quote above was about the best you can hope for. And on through that peculiar totally illogical concept of Original Sin which dooms everything that even claims to be Human to Hell from birth on unless you practice certain rituals. (Original Sin is not an exclusively Christian teaching, although that term for it may be.)

      Which brings us back to defining exactly what it is that will be sent to Hell.

      Can you determine what or where your soul is? When did it come into being? Is it here on Earth in your body or Up Yonder somewhere in a 'Soul Bank' waiting for Judgment Day? And, equally important, does it matter?
      Is it dependent on your consciousness or your body? After all as we have mentioned before, catastrophic head injury or chemical imbalance can result in total personality change to the point where the post-injury person even has different brain wave patterns. They are a Different Person. Do they have a different soul? What if the original person was as noble and good as any Saint of Old and the new person is more along the lines of John the Twelfth. The literal living version of Jekyll and Hyde, except with no going back.
      Should we mention true Multiple Personality Patients?
      There have been several famous cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder, what is also called 'split personalities covered in the media over the years (this mental illness is in no way related to schizophrenia) in which one or more of the manifestations would be an otherwise good person while one or more may have intense criminal leanings. Or one would be quite pious and the other best described as a nymphomaniac. Which personality is connected to the soul of the person? Or if the body is the owner of the soul, is that soul also a multiple personality?
      In any case, a street that we won't walk down in this discussion is the theory that a true multiple personality is actually multiple souls attempting to express themselves in a single body much as an apartment building may have several suites with different decorating themes as manifest by their individual owners totally unrelated to each other.
      And now that we've jogged around that tree we'll get back to their essence. Their Hypostasis to use that big and poorly defined word.

Definition Tangent:
      The actual translation of the Greek word 'hypostasis', is: "that which lies beneath as basis or foundation." And it is a perfectly wonderful definition. Yes it is. The question is as to exactly what does that mean? What is lying beneath what?
      In other works they use other words such as homoousia or just ousia by itself. Ousia is best defined as what we have been calling 'essence', you add 'homo' to it and you are essentially (pun intended) talking about the essence of a person, in particular, the Essence of Christ, or in a few cases, regular people.
      (Again, this is all wonderful, but what are they talking about?)

      The usual usage of the terms hypostasis and homoousia are used in discussing the Divinity versus the Humanity of Jesus Christ. Was/is His 'essence' human or divine or some combination thereof, or even simultaneously All Human and All Divine- One Body/Two Natures. And so on.

(sidenote to tangent: To this writer it is absolutely fascinating that various Church Fathers through the years have actually been reduced to armed conflict and other violence over the issue when in the Ultimate Sense it does not matter one bit as to what anybody drawing the breath of life says about it. end note)

      However, that is not their exclusive use. As we shall see.

Sort of the end of the tangent.

      You can take graduate level classes with subjects that include things such as the 'nature of the soul'.
      There are discussion groups in various venues that debate things like when a person becomes accountable for the condition of their own soul if Original Sin is not in play.
      Then there is the good old Sunday School debate about what happens to the souls those who die and have never heard the Gospel, such as the natives on some remote island or in the rain forests of South America and such places. How can a Just God condemn them?
      And on and on.

      And every one of them is shooting into the dark.
      We Can Not Know any of it.
      The only argument we can produce that has any value at all to any of it is that philosophically it seems that the ability to question whether one has a soul or not answers the question, and that the idea that we can ponder eternity gives the impression that somehow we know that it is out there waiting on us. But it is equally probable that we are merely deluded and that we neither have a soul nor a place in the hereafter.

      OK. A deep breath and we plunge on.

      Several years ago a scientific study was done which attempted to weigh the soul.
      The idea of a soul's weight can be traced all the way back to Egyptian mythology where the deceased person's soul (in the form of their heart in most depictions) would be weighed against a feather. If the burden of their deeds was too heavy they would fail the test and be devoured by demons. If they passed, there were more tests before they reached Heaven.
      Another depiction of the weighing of souls is chapter five of the Book of Daniel. Particularly where Daniel interprets the Writing on the Wall, "Mene Mene Tekel Peres" as the King had been weighed on the scale and found wanting.
      In 1907 Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts placed dying patients on an extremely sensitive scale and watched. The scale was so sensitive it could record the loss of weight due to the evaporation of moisture due to respiration at approximately one sixteenth of an ounce per hour.
      The results were hardly conclusive other than the fact that in the majority of cases there was a detectable loss of weight something under an ounce. Some have placed this as the weight of retained air in the lungs that is finally expelled with the last breath, others don't even try to explain it due to the small sample size and various problems with the doctor's methods. The idea that a person's soul weighs 21 grams (3/4 of an ounce) has gotten some traction in the popular media but the entire matter is far from settled.
      Later Dr. MacDougall tried to photograph the soul leaving the body with the latest toy of the medical community, the X-Ray.
      It is worth noting that the doctor also repeated his experiment with the scale and the dying body with a number of dogs and did not record any loss of weight at death. Either the dogs had no soul or if they did, their Essence of Life was too light to be detected.

      As was stated before one of the arguments that humans have a soul is that we are able to contemplate the question. To wit: 'Much as the Tin Man's confirmation that he had a heart was that he could feel it breaking, we are able to rationally discuss our Being continuing after Death.' The argument holds that if we did not have a soul, such a question would never occur to us.
      This is a fallacy. Mere contemplation of a given thing is not proof of that thing's existence. Just as that 'the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'.
      Warp drive, fairy dust, Godzilla, Olympian gods....
      We are able to imagine, wonder about, contemplate, even worship, all sorts of things, some of which are demonstrability false, so it may be with the existence of the human Soul or the God that marks its passing.

      But for now at least, we shall proceed on the assumption that we Have a Soul, which makes us more than an ape wearing a business suit.
      Back to Dr. MacDougall's scale. According to the results from a hundred years ago, when the dogs died, there was no detectable loss of mass. Regardless of what we thing about his methods and data, it does raise the point we discussed earlier with certain Eastern religions. Whether or not Humans are the only ones on Earth with a Soul.

      Certain animal rights people, including the outfit that sparked this discussion, believe Animals DO have souls, and they use that argument in their push to turn everybody into a vegetarian. (and some of them get quite upset when you ask them if a head of cabbage had a soul before it was killed so you could make slaw.)
      One organization under the banner 'All Creatures' quotes a great deal of scripture, even citing the apocryphal Book of Wisdom to tout the idea that animals are indeed created with souls. However, they ignore several verses where God implies otherwise, at one point telling the Apostle Peter to "Kill and Eat" in Peter's vision of the sheet in Acts 10.
      The discussion is indeed academic as there can be no 'knowing' in any meaningful sense of the word this side of the Great Beyond about us or our dinner. Although this writer is certain those who talk about how fish have emotions and rights the same as people do will say otherwise.

      The All Creatures people are most certainly practicing a rather contrived bit of the branch of Philosophy and Sociology of considering 'the Other', also known as Alterity (the Latinized name for the practice literally means considering the point of view of those on the other side of the argument). The American Indians recounted it as walking in the other's moccasins.
      The problem with that view in this case is that we cannot be certain that the animals feel the same way about us as the humans involved do about them.
      The old joke is that we love our dogs and our dogs love us back, we love our cats and our cats barely tolerate us.
      The truth may be somewhat different, at least as far as the dogs go... and we can never really know. The dog may just be buttering up its primary food supplier in interest of self preservation.
      Scientists have observed some behaviors in some animals in the wild that do at least seem to us to be emotional responses. Apes behave tenderly toward family members and infants, elephants show concern for others, even alligators show compassion at times. However, these behaviors can also be written off as instinctual actions to ensure survival.
      Of course the same can be said for us. As an example we don't have to go any further than the terms and actions associated with human motherhood. Expectant women who spend hours cleaning their apartment are said to be 'nesting', the fact that nearly every woman within earshot will respond to a crying infant (while men simply grimace) is labeled their 'maternal instinct', women are said to be more nurturing than men 'by nature'.
      Men too have survival instincts; fight or flight, hunter/gatherer, type A personalities and so on, that can be made to explain almost everything they do with certain exceptions. One being the Designated Hitter and another... ... the study of Metaphysics.
      But we As A Species must maintain that we are more than our instincts. That we have a purpose. A role. Meaning to our life beyond propagation of the species. And part of that purpose is the pursuit of the perfection of our own souls.
      Which we have to do in the context of both who we are, as well as When we are and Where we are.

      While we are most likely in charge of our own fate, as we have observed in the previous chapters of this study, we are also somewhat locked in by our time and place in history.
      Perchance if John Glenn or Neil Armstrong had been born one hundred years earlier, they would never have had the opportunity to fly an aircraft as a test pilot and so never have been to space and Mr. Armstrong would never have said "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." However, it is quite likely somebody else, perhaps Alan Shepard or Wally Schirra would have said something quite similar.

      You may have the knack to be the greatest Chariot Race Driver who has ever lived, which would explain your fascination with certain scenes in "Ben Hur", but in your current situation, you scarcely have the opportunity to pursue that vocation. Besides not owning four horses, there is probably a serious lack of a Roman Hippodrome in your town, and you just may not see the appeal of a single horse pulling a sulkie at a quick trot around the modern version of the ancient track instead of the full gallop and 'winner take all and everybody else be damned' style of the original races. So your talent will most likely never be realized, just as if Mr. Armstrong had been born in 1830 instead of 1930. (However, the Union Army did use 'pilots' in hot air balloons to observe Confederate positions during the War Between the States).
      We can go down that road from now until next Easter and not satisfy all objections and 'well what ifs'.
      The point is that everything and everybody is subject to the right conditions and circumstances so that they may have the opportunity to pursue what they are suited for.

And now what about... 'if Hitler had never been born'?

      The statement implies that if Adolph Hitler had never been born, or perhaps had not been beaten by his unhappy father, or had been accepted into art school or killed in World War One as a corporal.... whatever... that the Holocaust, or maybe even all of World War Two would never have happened.
      While a fascinating thought-path to travel merrily down, it ignores certain realities in history.
      To begin with the CIRCUMSTANCES and the TIME were perfectly aligned for Somebody to put all the pieces together and plunge Europe into chaos for a good number of years following World War One.
      Oh yes, the First World War sets the stage for everything to follow. The Treaty that ended the war, the Global Great Depression, certain widespread social and political (and to some degree- religious) beliefs, the rise of Communism in Eastern Europe, and all the rest of it worked together for years to bring it about.
      Great Forces were in motion long before a 'misunderstood artist' stepped into the circle in a tavern in Munich.


      Hitler was scarcely the sole driving force of either the anti-semantic movement in central Europe in the late nineteen twenties though the nineteen thirties, or German expansionism which eventually led again to war. Most German citizens were unhappy with the economic burden imposed on them by the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI. Many felt that Germany needed the Polish Territory they had captured during the war to survive, when it was taken from them they felt betrayed by their government.
      The Reichswehr (the German Military that was allowed to exist under the treaty) was actively promoting German Nationalism and pointing out various scapegoats for the country's defeat in the War. Many patriotic Germans attended the various functions and even classroom lectures on the subject given around the country from 1919 on.
      Hitler's mentor, Dietrich Eckart, was one of the early organizers of the various movements which became the Nazi party and wrote the Nazi Anthem 'Germany Awaken'. But Adolf wasn't his only student. Before Eckart died in 1923 he had written a great deal of propaganda and had sparked Alfred Rosenberg into forming his anti-Jewish organization dedicated to working to end Jewish interference in German life. In fact, Rosenberg had become a member of the National Socialist Party several months before Hitler joined. (Hitler was the fifty-fifth member to sign up, despite later propaganda claims to the contrary.)
      Eckart was also associated with Gottfried Feder, and Anton Drexler. The three were the basis for the 1919 formation of the German Worker's Party (which later became the National Socialists) and all three were deeply Fascist before being a Fascist was cool.
      Yes, Hitler became (in today's terms) the Spokesmodel for the Nazi Party and later all of Germany, but had he never been born... history would scarcely have been different.
      Other notable Nazis were around before Hitler took over. One was socialist activist Ernst Rohm, who organized the SA to fight the Communists, and was one of the principles of the Beer Hall Putsch, but was not a close associate of Hitler's until they were sent to prison together. Another was Hans Frank, possibly the one original Nazi with the greatest education, Frank was a lawyer who passed the bar in 1926. One other early member was Rudolf Hess, who in spite of being prominent in the initial organization, became absolutely enthralled with Hitler and even followed him to prison as his personal assistant.
      So there were a swarm of hardcore fanatics already in place, all they needed was a leader, and, essentially, Adolf just got lucky nobody took the spot before he did and then eliminated the competition.

      One other note: the term 'The Third Reich' was not a Hitler or even really a Nazi invention. It was used as the title of a book by German Nationalist Arthur Moeller van den Bruck who published "Das Dritte Reich" in 1923. The primary axe den Bruck was grinding was what the Versailles treaty was doing to the German Economy. He had organized a group of conservatives in what was to become "The Master's Club" to rally against the treaty unaffiliated with the National Socialist movement. Several of the Nazi Party's central ideas were lifted, as was the slogan, from den Bruck's work.
      The Economic Crash of 1929 - 1930 devastated the German Economy and gave the National Socialists the inspiration they needed to work toward overthrowing the government and seizing power before the Communists could. With or without Adolph Hitler, Germany's fate was all but sealed well before the 1936 Olympics.
      Fascist Eugenics as 'Social Darwinism' (also known as the Progressive Movement) had a firm hold in Germany in the mid to late twenties, and it was manifesting itself under many banners. Some of which were even more violent and extreme than the Nazis like various communist factions and some regional secessionist groups.

      To bottom line this discussion we shall sum it up with this:
      If Hitler 'had never been born' there were plenty of erstwhile Nazis in place to step up and go with the flow. While Adolph (to use the alternative spelling) was the charismatic leader, he was scarcely the brains of the outfit and had only come to power, and assumed the title of 'Leader' (Führer) after some serious conflicts with other members, over the objections of some on the original executive board members in spite of Rudolf Hess's support.
      In fact, if Hitler had never been part of the Party, it is quite likely that WWI hero and expert organizer Hermann Göring may have seized the fledgling party and rode it to its destiny. Göring had joined in 1922 and was placed in charge of whipping the SA into shape after Röhm had moved on to another assignment. (Göring had served under Röhm during the Beer Hall Putsch as did Himmler.) And Göring had even broader support both in the party and with Germans at large than Hitler did at the time.
      Was Göring a 'kinder, gentler' Nazi? Hardly.

"When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning."
Attributed to Hermann Goering Reich Marshal
(Goering's 'Browning' was his sidearm, a semiautomatic pistol)

      And now somebody asks "Would the SS have formed and become the killing machine it did without Hitler?"
      Yes, there is no doubt. The SS began as an elite battalion of the SA as 'the Leaders' personal protection unit modeled after the Catholic Church's Jesuits, no matter who 'the Leader' was. Once formed, Heinrich Himmler, one of the leading proponents of what was to become the 'final solution' even before his Nazi days, found himself his personal vehicle in the SA/SS to power and a platform for his own extreme views of German Superiority, even though he himself, like Hitler, was short and slightly built. But unlike his leader, Himmler, while intense and with a driving ambition, didn't have the charisma.
      And if it hadn't been Hitler, and there was no Himmler, there was always Goebbels and his enlightened philosophy.
"A Jew is for me an object of disgust. I feel like vomiting when I see one. Christ could not possibly have been a Jew. It is not necessary to prove that scientifically-- it is a fact."
Joseph Goebbels
Reichsminister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment
End Tangent

      Anyway, the point of all of that was the following:
      There are very few places in history where great events, such as World War Two and all that it entails, could be derailed if a single person had 'never been born'.

      Others were working on powered aircraft, so if the Wright Brothers had never been born perhaps Samuel Langley would have continued his work on the Potomac River and eventually succeeded in flying, and then swimming, as his early craft did not have landing gear.
      Everybody credits Alexander Graham Bell with having invented the telephone. However, history records that Italian Antonio Meucci had indeed put together a working device several years before Bell. There is still some dispute as to whether Bell's patent should be rescinded or perhaps amended to reflect Meucci's claim. However, if Neither had Ever been born.... Johann Philipp Reis of Germany or Elisha Gray in Illinois also had produced working prototypes around the same time. Which means we might have Ma Gray instead of Ma Bell.

      It should be obvious that in order for Arthur to have become cool and end up the Fonz, as quoted in the opening to this chapter, he had to have lived in a time and place where it were possible. (If he were a real person instead of a TV character that is.)
      Among subsistence hunter-gatherers in the Stone Age, nobody would have cared. 'Cool' was irrelevant, survival was 'in'. If Fonzie had been able to turn his talents toward killing bison, then the others would have been impressed. If not, he may not have survived.
      The same is true for our other Real World examples, the circumstances of their lives had to have been right or the outcome may have been quite different.
      If Hitler had been born in another place or time or both, he may have ended up being a mediocre painter who married fiancé Mimi Reiter and passed into obscurity, or perhaps after the failed revolt, he would have met his end on the guillotine.

      Of course argument is made that Great Men, and women, have traits that would make them great no matter where or when they were born. As Hitler had natural charisma and a tremendous speaking ability he would have made a splash had he been born in that tribe of hunter-gatherers with the Fonz. Indeed, with Arthur as muscle and Hitler as spokesman they might have created their own kingdom on the savannah of Africa during the last Ice Age.
      Or not.

      The Wright Brothers might have perfected the Steam Engine if they had lived a hundred and fifty years earlier. They were clever and able to figure things out and had a natural mechanical ability and the gift of being able to use what they had and what they knew to solve a given problem... as had James Watt. Or if they were in the next tribe over from the 'Adolphonzies' maybe they would have perfected a better atl-atl (spear thrower) to use in battle.
      It is an interesting mental exercise, no?

      We'll leave that line of reasoning well enough alone. It is well enough that Messieurs Watt and Bell and Hitler and the rest all lived when they did.

      Moving on. And we're working our way back to the soul.
      Yes we are.

      Now, running with the idea that inherent greatness will stand out even if it is in mundane ways, instead of in a vein that thrusts a person into the limelight of history where their name is highlighted in textbooks for years to come, we shall venture onward

      Are we saying here that absolutely everybody is great at something?
      The saying that 'all men are created equal' is not exactly true. That is a quote taken out of context from the source document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

United States Declaration of Independence
Adopted Version

      It is not Politically Correct on several fronts.
      The first being that a Great Man, who happened to be White, and owned slaves, wrote it in English. By current count that is at least five strikes against Thomas Jefferson going in to the debate. He was also well educated, ok, seven maybe eight strikes.

[Sidenote 1: In all of the hysteria about the possible illegitimate children of Thomas Jefferson one fact was forgotten. Tom had a Brother- Randolph, who had several sons, and they were known at the time to enjoy spending time with the slaves. However, there is no benefit or notoriety to being a descendant of 'Randy' Jefferson.]

[Sidenote 2: The original draft listed the 'pursuit of property' as a Right so granted. However, that set off a firestorm about the rights of slaves. If it had remained there would have been only a half dozen colonies coming together as the southern handful would never have agreed to it and leaving New England to fend for itself against the King. Which would have changed the whole history of the War of American Succession and possibly ended with a different outcome.]

      The phrase as mailed to ol' George expresses that all men are equal under their Creator who grants the rights listed. And indeed, in that light, all men (and women) are equal.
      Further, there is some dispute as to exactly who they were talking about when they wrote the thing. Jefferson and many of the other founders did not see Blacks or American Indians as equals to themselves. Many held that women were second class citizens if not property under the laws then extant. It is reasonable to argue, if unpopular today, that to many of the signers, those they were referring to as equals were Gentlemen- landowners and skilled tradesmen or other 'men of letters'.
      Since then we have expanded the definition to include everybody....

"...regardless of sex, race, color, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status or disability."
(found on the web in various places)

      ... and we mean Everybody.

      This writer has pointed out in various ways in various forums under various topics that if everybody was a philosopher-king as in Plato's 'Republic' if carried to its logical extreme, who would pick up the garbage?

(If everybody is indeed truly equal in every way... then why can't this writer juggle?)

      No, we all have different abilities and skills and interests. Which was also true in Plato's day. The Republic he spoke of would acknowledge this and the dialog remarked on the different classes of citizens such as the warriors and the producers. However, there would be a universal educational system for all, and it included women, something unheard of in the Greek system.
      Any elementary social studies text worthy of the label would point out that a homogenous society off all one type of person, all carpenters for instance, would not last very long. And it could not be called a civilization. It would not be long before somebody had to switch specialty and learn medicine or how to be a butcher or to teach school or any of the other numerous things that go into making a town work.
      Thereby comes the place where each one works under their strengths and skills and the division of labor includes those who are the best at tap dancing providing the entertainment for the others (or running the government).

      Speaking of the Declaration.
      Benjamin Franklin may have been the Best and Brightest of the bunch of founding fathers. He was an.... Inventor (lightning rods and bifocals among others), Scientist (best known for research on electricity), Author and Publisher (including 'Poor Richard's Almanac'), Political and Social activist (he organized the first fire department in America), and all around man about town. And that list didn't even mention his being instrumental in the founding of the University of Pennsylvania or his speaking five languages. Oh, and he was the first US Postmaster too....
      Along with such individuals as Leonardo da Vinci, Franklin is usually listed as one of the few true Renaissance men ('polymath' if you want the technical term) that have lived.
      Ben was, and is, a fascinating character.
      However, there are a couple of things that people today would find very distasteful. No, not his rumored womanizing with the ladies of society in both London and Paris as well as in Philadelphia and New York. And yes, some of them were married, and others were of 'lower classes' and some may have been a bit to young for the, then, senior citizen. No, not with the fact that he enjoyed adult beverages (sometimes to clear excess) and could tell stories that made the polite people of the day blush. No, that's OK.
      Franklin wanted Americans to be 'Virtuous". And Virtue was as much a topic of his 'Poor Richard' writings as anything else was. He felt that in a society where the power of government was to be ultimately invested in the people that the people of the society had to be as 'good' as possible. Otherwise a corrupt few would grab power and the government would become onerous.

[Ol' Ben would probably chuckle knowingly at the idea, if suggested, of his hope that the future generations of the country would be more virtuous than he, as he documented his own shortcomings when measured against his own list of 13 attributes to strive for.]


      OK, we'll go there and do that.

      We'll stipulate that maybe We The People are NOT particularly virtuous, whether we ever have been is a separate historical argument and not within the scope of this paper... and a few ambitious (and greedy) persons of even more questionable virtue have seized power and with the next round of elections now behind us, a new batch of those same types are chomping at the bit while they drool all over themselves at the idea of feeding at the public trough for several more years.
      But then again, maybe we're not so bad after all.
      As we have seen through the course of this study, that some of 'us' both at home and abroad, are quite virtuous and others are entirely given to the other end of that spectrum mentioned immediately above.
      Some individuals are giving of themselves through a sense of a higher calling no matter what Friedrich Nietzsche said about how we as a species have no moral obligation help others.

      Take for instance an Irish Priest in Nebraska.
      It's one thing to work in a parish and serve as the local spiritual leader.
      It is something else to take in a few orphans and raise them.
      It is something else all together to open what would eventually become Boys Town (later known as Girls and Boys Town), which is now nationwide helping nearly 50,000 children in need a year.

"The work will continue, you see, whether I am there or not, because it is God’s work, not mine."
Father Edward Flanagan
1886 - 1948

      Evidently Father Flanagan didn't agree with Nietzsche.

      Reverend William Booth walked out of his pulpit filling job and into the streets of London to care for the homeless, much to the chagrin of the 'proper' church-going public of the time. In 1878 his efforts became the Salvation Army.

      If Father Flanagan or Reverend Booth were looking out solely for their own interests they would have simply bided their time and not worried about anything further. Thousands of ministers of every faith do exactly that and pass this life all but unnoticed. They do exactly and only what is expected of them; preach a sermon a week and maybe at a revival once in awhile, pray at church dinners and over the sick, comfort the dying as needed, bless a new baby once in awhile, and that's about it. If they do that they will meet the minimum requirements for the position as stated by most church boards.
      Some do more. And not just 'men of the Cloth'.

      In 1863 a Swiss Army General, a Lawyer, a couple of Doctors, and an Author formed what became the International Red Cross.
      Organizing the world's leading relief charity isn't something most Generals or Lawyers list as their goals for the week. Yet they had all read Monsieur Dunant's book and took it to heart, and with his assistance, put his ideas about the treatment of the survivors of combat into practice. Were they after eternal praise and notoriety? If they were, they failed miserably because it is not called the "General Guillaume Henri Dufour Society" and the Committee of Five itself, the founding members, were renamed the International Committee on their way to becoming the guardian body of the Geneva Conventions.
      For its century of good work the Red Cross won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963.

      Like we said. Some people do things just to make the world a better place.
      They are the minority of the 'virtuous' people Mr. Franklin was talking about.
      It is not just the altruistic that are virtuous, but those that are, are much easier to spot in a crowd.
      'Virtuous' also includes those that obey the common laws and do the little things that make them a better person. They don't speed on the highway, they turn the lights out when they leave a room. They don't cheat on their taxes and if they find loose change on the ground they give it to charity. They are not the town drunk nor are they likely to rob a bank. They will stop their lawn mower to avoid a baby rabbit. They are, in short, the majority of the population.
      Which means that Most of the Population are under the general umbrella of those that are at least in the ballpark for the virtues Ben was talking about. Most people do not kick puppies. Most people do not urinate in the street. Most People pull over when driving and a fire truck is approaching with lights and siren on. Most People....

      And then there are those notable exceptions where somebody either through a sense of the Megalomania we've discussed at length or just through simple ignorance and/or arrogance think they are exempt from either common sense, common courtesy, or the law of the land, or all of the above.
      And then you have those Others that we've also discussed at length who, let's pick on Caligula again as he seems to be a very good bad example of someone who is just about as far to the other end of the virtue spectrum from those that founded the Red Cross as it is possible to be....
      ....AND NOW... we're coming back around to the point.
      Oh yes.

      We went through all of that to go into this:
      Do you think for one minute that Caligula, our example of the moment, felt any regret or remorse at the atrocities, and that is the word, that he committed against those loyal to him, and even members of his own family who may not have been loyal to him?
      How about John the Twelfth from early in this chapter or Mr. Manson from the last chapter?
      Not a chance.
      Those thoughts and emotions were simply not part of their makeup.
      They were, and in the case of Mr. Manson who as of this writing is still with us, he IS, Amoral.
      For those of you who attended the State Schools in the USA- Someone is amoral when they: 'lack any moral standards or sense of remorse, have no behavioral restraints under civility or common courtesy or even the law of the land, and are totally and completely indifferent as to the meaning of right and wrong as it applies to them' (to paraphrase several online dictionaries).
      Of course our examples are all real good bad examples. And most are at least diagnosable as a sociopath, and yet....

[Interesting Sidenote:
      If you look through the character traits for the 'classic' variety of Sociopath and not just the criminal variety, you will notice things common to US Presidential Candidates such as:
      Glibness and Superficial Charm
      Grandiose Sense of Self, Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."
      Pathological Lying. Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis.
      Shallow Emotions. When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
      Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
      Irresponsibility/Unreliability. Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
      Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility. Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily. End Note]

      .... and yet, they all do (or did) have an Eternal Soul.

      Now if you take the above traits and add a degree of violence or the threat thereof with above average intelligence (which is not on the list for either Sociopath or Presidential Candidate) and toss in the general behavior of a predator you have a Psychopath, a la Mr. Manson.
      Psychopaths make better Dictators than they do Presidents, for which We the People shall always be grateful. At least in the US of A.


      What in the HELL does all this have to do with Duck Souls?
      Well.... let's just keep going and hope we can explain.

      Those who are consumed with their own importance, or even those who are NOT, are not inclined to go as deeply into any topic as we have here. Neither do they look into what is right or wrong, or the whys and wherefores of said morals, or even why we as people have a sense of morality at all, which brings into the equation even larger questions.
      Something which both those of a pathological bent and politicians have very much in common.
      The ability to ask questions such as these seems to indicate that one is in need of answers. Something one with a 'mega' personality cannot seriously admit to themselves, unless of course it suits their needs of the moment. Honestly admitting they don't know something is completely foreign to them.
      This line of reasoning also applies to religious figureheads, academic types, and others who keep up the appearance that they actually know what they are talking about and really and truly believe it.

      As There Is a distinct chance that we really are nothing more than a 'naked ape' and we are all totally deluded. That the universe and all life and everything else is simply the result of time plus chance. That this is all there is and other than the ability to sleep well at night when faced with human tragedy there is no significant difference between a Hitler and a Father Flanagan except that one type of extreme personality will grieve over the misfortune of others, and the other type won't.
      Like we said, there IS that chance.

      But some of us, maybe even Most of us, 'we the people' mentioned before, simply cannot and will not accept that. That is of course excluding those Nihilists who just love the idea that there is no greater meaning. (we'll deal with them in the final chapter)
      Most of us have to believe that life has meaning just to get up in the morning.
      If, as "the teacher" said, everything is "meaningless" in Ecclesiastes 1, then really, what is the point of putting up with idiotic and insulting TV commercials that really are meaningless?
      No. There has to be more, if only for the reason that we WANT there to be more so we don't go through life totally empty and void inside.

      As has been said of Coca-Cola... that if Pepsi had not come out as their competition and their chief rival in the 'cola wars' that Coke would have invented it as a publicity vehicle....
      If we did not have a soul. A Conscious. A sense of Morality and Virtue.
      If we didn't have a soul, we would have had to invent it.

      And maybe 'we' did.

End ch 5

More on that in the final chapter of this study ending with "The QUESTIONS:"
  Chapter 6
    A Nihilst's Nihilism
Coming Soon

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