Consciousness and conscience – the anatomically modern inhuman

Tevet 9, 5775

– to be revised –

I have been thinking a lot, what distinguishes us from a sponge or a worm. It doesn’t start with the ability to distinguish between good an evil. It’s the presence of conscience and consciousness. I am trying to draw a line – and forgive me – I am starting with an auxiliary assumption. Maybe at the end we will see clearer.

Do you have a consciousness and a conscience?
I mean a human consciousness!
Of course, you will say “yes”, but can you prove it?

Wikipedia says about Consciousness: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness )
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind……..

And it says about Conscience: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscience )
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong. Moral judgment may derive from values or norms (principles and rules). In psychological terms conscience is often described as leading to feelings of remorse when a human commits actions that go against his/her moral values and to feelings of rectitude or integrity when actions conform to such norms.
And
Antonio Damasio considers conscience an aspect of extended consciousness beyond survival-related dispositions and incorporating the search for truth and desire to build norms and ideals for behavior.

How many among us have trouble to read and understand this? And worse, the text goes on over quite a few pages. But I want to make it easier for you. The dry theory on instances like Consciousness and Conscience can be made digestible through experiments.

Let me start with a question:
Would you kill a Yazidi man and rape his widow?
I mean, there’s nothing to it. It’s happening every day!
No, you wouldn’t do it?
Puh!
But maybe you know about the Milgram Obedience study:

Milgram could explain a big share, how many Germans have been made to commit crimes against humanity, even though in their “normal” lives they were normal, even good people.
But Milgram didn’t ask for those who voluntarily and willingly moved to commit cruel atrocities against others in the name of the Aryan superrace.

I want you to look at the Islamic State once again. Most of the fighters supporting this entity aren’t from the region. Thousands travelled to support this organization even though it was pretty obvious, that they might be involved in mass killings and that Yazidi people would be treated as Harbi. Provided, that a Muslim is well aware of the Quran, the Sharia and the atrocities committed against the pre-Islamic Jewish tribes of the Medina region in the name of Islam (see: Banu Quraziyah, Banu Kuraiza, Banu Koraisa, Banu Quraytha, Banu Koreiza)

The slaughter of the Banu Qurayza men.

Banu Qurayza

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banu_Qurayza#Siege_and_surrender
“The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, authorised Sa’d ibn Mu’adh to give a decision about them. He passed an order: He who is subjected to razors (i.e. the male) should be killed, women and children should be enslaved and property should be distributed. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: You have decided in confirmation to the judgement of Allah, above the seven heavens. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, returned on Thursday 7 Dhu al- Hijjah. Then he commanded them to be brought into al-Madinah where ditches were dug in the market. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, sat with his Companions and they were brought in small groups. Their heads were struck off.”

And now look at northern Iraq. This is exactly what they are doing to the Yazidi people.

So there are two different qualities:

  • The blind followers – These guys are a little stupid but under “normal” circumstances they can be a valuable members of society
  • The active perpetrators. They need no guidance to be barbarians. They travel from around the world to Syria and Iraq to demonstrate, that they totally disagree with our values.

Under “normal” circumstances a member of human society is able to function as a valuable member of society. They do no harm, they love their children and each other, they do their work and quite a few are even helpful. Nevertheless we know about a significant share of these people, who need continuous guidance to stay on track and we know about a “few” characters, who are no valuable members of society at all. Notorious evil doers! No, I am not talking about the ordinary murderer or rapist, who are hunted down and put to jail, in the hope that we can put them back on track (unfortunately prison regimes don’t perform very good in the field of social rehabilitation).

But if the ordinary criminals aren’t our group of interest, who else?
What about

or

  • what about these thousands of brutes, who travel to Syria and Iraq from all over the world to join the IS, even though they know perfectly well, what they will be doing there.

It’s these characters ( I don’t want to call them people, I don’t want to call them humans ) who intentionally leave all our common values, our morals and ethics behind and themselves completely deny fundamental rights and freedoms to others.

I hope, we agree, that a person cannot be bereaved of her/his dignity. A person can only throw away her dignity on her own. And in exactly the moment, a person is treating another person inhumane respectively barbaric, it’s not the victim who becomes subhuman, but the perpetrator who becomes inhuman, s/he remains equal to us, as far as we are anatomically modern “humans”, but the perpetrator threw away the the essential quality, that effectively makes us humans. It’s not the skull , the teeth or the upright walk. It’s our values, our ability to love, to show mercy and to be just/fair. Still the perpetrator has a human appearance, but he has denied our fundamental values upon which we have built our morals, our ethics and subsequently functioning families and societies.

  • love
  • mercy
  • justice
  • truth

I deliberately added the value truth, because pretended love is no love and pretended mercy is cynicism.

A character who deliberately denies the moral basis of humanity implicitly denies his own humaneness. In the moment, s/he denies another human her/his humaneness, we cannot tolerate the perpetrator any longer among us. So there is a difference between an ordinary murder first degree and the annihilation of humans because the perpetrator considers them not worth living – not worth to breath the same air.

At the bottom line it is not interesting, if or how the perpetrator kills, rapes, tortures. It’s solely her/his motives that make her/him as a person unacceptable. At this point a perpetrator leaves us speechless. Our societies aren’t prepared to deal with such evil characters.

This gives us a hint, why Adolf Eichman didn’t receive a lifelong jail term, but the death penalty. It was simply impossible to leave this creature among us even if it would be behind bars.

While Eichman was put away, too many have been permitted to start new lives – even extraordinary careers – and to peacefully die in their beds.

While Germans industrialized inhumanity, we can find the craftsmen of brutality in other regions of the world. For me as a young girl, one remote experience of this brutality was the Khmer Rouge. But today we see nameless atrocities being committed in Syria and Iraq and “we” are not really doing much about it. So there was this young man who returned to Germany from serving the IS. Even though he denied having killed anybody, we cannot believe him. He may have killed hundreds and he may have raped dozens of Yazidi women. In Germany the young Kreshnik B. who returned, received a jail term of 45 months and then, this guy will live among us again. In Denmark repatriates from the IS shall be reintegrated.(sorry it’s in German – You may want to read it via google-translator) So these Barbarians were well integrated into the Danish society before they left to throw away their humaneness – wow – and now they shall be re-integrated? Awesome!

I mean, these guys  already were walking time bombs before they left to serve the IS and now they come back with a mental cataclysm between their ears that may let us fear the worst.

There are limits to what a society can handle. We can handle murderers and other criminals because in modern societies, we widely share the believe, that an ordinary crime – even murder first degree – does not justify an execution. Well, there are countries, where this is more disputed than in others, but in the cases described above, we don’t deal with ordinary crimes.

The atrocities committed by these people are far beyond the limit of what we still may consider an “unlawful act”. These guys even deny our most fundamental values and sources of law – they inflicted living hell and arrogated to act like devils. Sorry, but these guys have to be put away, once and for all, no matter how.

I’ve just tried to look up the names of the devils, but I ended up with the conclusion, that their names are Mohammed, Abdullah, Kevin, Heinz, Thomas, Ulf, Abdul, Bilal,….. whatsoever, just like these devils names 70 years ago were Adolf (Hitler / Eichmann), Hermann (Göring), Heinrich (Himmler), Josef (Goebbels), Reinhard (Heydrich)……..

__________________

Let’s make a turn to the victims of inhumanity. Believe me, it’s hard to think how to write about Yazidi children, women and their killed fathers and husbands. I just don’t do it because I couldn’t bear it, but there is an interesting point, I would like to bring up:

The atrocities committed against the Yazidi in the name of Allah open a window to the history of ethnic minorities in the Middle East. The dismaying fate of the Yazidi shows the world what was going on during the 1834 looting of Safed and during so many other massacres and pogroms against indigenous Arab Jews and from there we may reason how other minorities were treated in the name of Allah and how they finally vanished. Islam has turned the Middle East into a slaughter house.

But the world kept silent then and it keeps silent now.

I believe, that Israel should advocate for the Yazidi people. Nobody who is subjected Islamist to atrocities should be left alone with this fate. They need salvation and a few bombs from too few U.S. jets won’t help them.