Facing Thanatos

Forget Allah, Buddha, Christ, etc. Two minor Greek mythological deities excavated by Freud in his theory of what makes us humans tick have been ruling the world forever. Eros, the god or drive for love and Thanatos, that of death. Of course, any number of cultures follows the established pattern of duality. Be it yin and yang or the light versus darkness of my Zoroastrian ancestors, these warring forces live inside all of us. Looking at the state of the world, one would have to wonder if, for several decades now, more than explaining humanity, they aren’t actually splitting it in twoThanatos

Populations with a pea-sized brain (and I’m being generous here) in countries or communities prey to religious superstition and/or battleground to sectarian or other conflicts, tribalism, warlordism, illegal occupation, and/or crushed under brutal regimes—take your pick—have every reason to believe in Thanatos’s supremacy. That is what they see all around day in and day out. You can preach all you want about peace and love and the brotherhood of man, they would sooner drive a sharp dagger through your lying heart than listen to more pieties. Death is all there is and you are responsible for this, they will assert time and again, you caused this war and the one before that. You brought to power that tyrant. You stole our ressources, you victimized us, and now you insult our prophets. You deserve death, I will kill you and die myself rather than live to see another day.

There you go. Thanatos once more spreading his dark wings, grabbing his scythe. What can you do against imbeciles whose most powerful emotion is hatred, who will always destroy rather than build, who will hold the most asinine beliefs and defend them to the death?

Also powerful believers in Thanatos are the vicious regimes which we, to our shame, pretend are no better and no worse than any other, whose repulsive heads we invite at our tables, with whose governments we sign juicy contracts, whose terrible crimes we pretend not to see. Did our administration voice even a modest protest over the 47 executions in Saudi Arabia last Saturday? Is decapitation horrendous only when performed by ISIS? Is crucifixion bad when putting Christ to death but okay to get rid of pesky teenagers who send out one tweet too many? Yet, even that kingdom built on sand has executed only 150 people in 2015. Our real best buddy since the signing of the doomed-to-crumble nuclear agreement is Iran where nearly one thousand people have been executed during the year that just ended. (Hurray for Iran, they’re getting there, though still far from our own United States where this past year 33,000 of our citizens died through gun violence—thirty-three THOUSAND?—and where cops killed almost 1200 people, mostly from minorities and often unarmed. All this to much cheering from the half-wits who refuse gun control and police accountability.)

We can’t confront Thanatos, his hold is too strong on fanatics and deranged individuals (for whom we continue to voice excuses and understanding.) That shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing his cult as the big divide between civilized discourse and mayhem. Or from picking Eros.

 

 

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  1. January 5, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Bravo to Saïdeh Pakravan for once again courageously writing the painful truth.

    Raymond Keen – author of “Love Poems for Cannibals” and “The Private and Public Life of King Able.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jonathan Agronsky
    January 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    You ask: “What can you do against imbeciles whose most powerful emotion is hatred, who will always destroy rather than build, who will hold the most asinine beliefs and defend them to the death?

    I would reply with the only thing with which I have ever agreed with warmonger Dick Cheney: “Drain the swamp.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Words of wisdom from the counterargumenter-in-chief. Well said, lady. Bravo & congratulations!

    Like

  4. January 6, 2016 at 9:32 am

    (comment from a friend who asked me to insert it here)
    beautifully written and a relevant comparison drawn to awaken mankind to its own folly, fury and fanaticism. regards Manoutchehr A

    Like

  5. Shirin A.
    January 7, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I miss Farhad everyday! I am sure he would have enjoyed this excellent analysis. Thank you.

    Like

  6. lewisjperelman
    January 9, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Saideh, yes there are death-loving regimes and cohorts that plague the world and deserve condemnation. They also demand vigilant defense, since changing their minds seems to be a slow, uphill process at best.

    But your parenthetical comment about ‘gun violence’ in the US begs clarification.

    First out of about 1,000 people killed by police in this country during the past year, 161 were unarmed. “Of the 161 unarmed individuals, 71 were shot by police. The second most common cause of death found in the study were Tasers, which led to the deaths of 39 people, followed by being struck by police vehicles (26). Twenty-eight people died in police custody…” (Of the 161 unarmed individuals, 71 were shot by police. The second most common cause of death found in the study were Tasers, which led to the deaths of 39 people, followed by being struck by police vehicles (26). Twenty-eight people died in police custody,..” (http://j.mp/1OiTfzZ)

    Second, of the 33,000 or so gun deaths in the US that you mentioned, over 20,000 were suicides, about 500 were accidents, and 280 from firearms use with “undetermined intent.” Homicides accounted for 11,000.

    Highway deaths were about the same number as gun deaths. That was a little more than deaths from accidental falls (often in the bathroom), and several thousand fewer than deaths from accidental poisoning.

    Meanwhile, some 400,000 people are killed in the United States each year by preventable medical errors.

    Like

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