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Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:13 pm
by Liz
gemini wrote: We make the mistake of thinking what works for us will work for all but these peoples culture is far too different from ours.


I couldn't agree more.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:40 pm
by Bix
I've just been rereading Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince and came across an interesting comment on how absolute power affects the tyrant. Head Wizard Dumbledore is trying to explain to Harry Potter why Harry is the one who must face the evil Voldemort and says, ". . .Don't you see? Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!" Interesting to think that some of the imprisonings and disappearances might have been done not just out of the power to be able to do those things, but also out of fear on the part of the tyrant.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:40 pm
by fansmom
gemini wrote:It seems that we may have a different idea of what is important from them. To us being free of a dictator is worthwhile because we see freedom as most important. It seems to them their society has so many religious beliefs that control their freedoms, they may see things very differently. Saddam's strong arm fear tactics seemed to let them lead a freer life than they have now. We make the mistake of thinking what works for us will work for all but these peoples culture is far too different from ours.
The most chilling thing I ever heard on the radio was a Taliban official discussing the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in early 2001. He was absolutely convinced that they had to be destroyed because they were idols. He also spoke extensively on the role of women in Afghanistan vs. in western society. He said that what we saw as acceptable problems that result from a western society with personal choice (prostitution, divorce, drug abuse) were problems that would not be accepted in Afghanistan, and are signs that western society doesn't think highly enough of its women to protect them. Chadors (or burkahs or whatever they're called in Afghanistan), not allowing women to be in public on their own, or to drive, etc. are all measures designed to protect women and are signs of the love and care that Afghani men show for their women. He was clearly of a mindset that was entirely alien to mine. There was no way he would ever be persuaded that he was wrong, and of course there's no way he would ever persuade me that he was right.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:41 pm
by fansmom
Bix wrote:I've just been rereading Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
Me too, Bix!

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:05 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Bix, that is a good point. Once you are at that level of power and ruling by fear you have to know you have a lot of enemies. What's the saying...it's not paranoia if they really are after you? :lol:

fansmom, that is a perfect example of what we have been saying about not understanding each others cultures.
:banghead:

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:24 pm
by nebraska
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Much food for thought here and I have been AWOL today! One thing that keeps standing out to me is how much we, as Westerners, don't understand Arab culture, and I suppose vice versa? Yet, when I read the interview that fansmom posted I see similarities. I wish we could start from there instead of our differences. :-/


I think expecting to "understand" may be beside the point. Perhaps it is enough to accept that we have differences and respect each other's rights to hold those different views, no matter how "wrong" they may seem to us.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:49 pm
by fansmom
nebraska wrote:I think expecting to "understand" may be beside the point. Perhaps it is enough to accept that we have differences and respect each other's rights to hold those different views, no matter how "wrong" they may seem to us.
The Taliban official I heard on the radio would have said that tolerance is wrong, nebraska. Tolerating the Buddhas was tantamount to condoning idolatry. He thought part of the role of government was to protect the people and keep them safe from heresy and wrong thinking.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:34 pm
by Liz
Bix wrote:I've just been rereading Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince and came across an interesting comment on how absolute power affects the tyrant. Head Wizard Dumbledore is trying to explain to Harry Potter why Harry is the one who must face the evil Voldemort and says, ". . .Don't you see? Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!" Interesting to think that some of the imprisonings and disappearances might have been done not just out of the power to be able to do those things, but also out of fear on the part of the tyrant.


Funny you should mention Harry Potter. I've only read the first book, but have seen all the movies, the most recent of which I saw tonight. And at the very end it hit me....it seemed that the theme was pride and how it can bring your downfall. It happened to more than one character--if not total downfall, at least a slap on the wrist. I won't go into detail for those who have yet to see it. But I think those who have will know what I'm talking about. So you two are on the 2nd to last book? The new one comes out today/tonight, right?

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:40 pm
by Liz
fansmom wrote:
nebraska wrote:I think expecting to "understand" may be beside the point. Perhaps it is enough to accept that we have differences and respect each other's rights to hold those different views, no matter how "wrong" they may seem to us.
The Taliban official I heard on the radio would have said that tolerance is wrong, nebraska. Tolerating the Buddhas was tantamount to condoning idolatry. He thought part of the role of government was to protect the people and keep them safe from heresy and wrong thinking.


But no matter how foreign that may seem to us, it is not something that I think we can change. It's been years in the making, totally ingrained in their culture, just as our Western values cannot be changed and need to be tolerated by those who disagree with them. :-/

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:21 pm
by fansmom
Liz wrote:Funny you should mention Harry Potter. I've only read the first book, but have seen all the movies, the most recent of which I saw tonight. And at the very end it hit me....it seemed that the theme was pride and how it can bring your downfall. It happened to more than one character--if not total downfall, at least a slap on the wrist. I won't go into detail for those who have yet to see it. But I think those who have will know what I'm talking about. So you two are on the 2nd to last book? The new one comes out today/tonight, right?

Liz, the books are much better than the movies. I urge you to read them. (Did you think about absolute power when you watched Professor Umbridge?)

I'm rereading book 6 to prepare for book 7, which is currently at a UPS facility 15 minutes from me, according to Amazon. My daughter is at a ska concert and I am far too old to go to a midnight book sale on my own.

I don't know that pride is the theme. The books are an epic journey in the mythological tradition. It's easy to compare Harry Potter with Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings (and probably the Iliad and the Odyssey, too, if I knew them better). For a little laugh--
http://www.saynotocrack.com/index.php/2 ... fe-crisis/
J.K. Rowling says the books are about good vs. evil (duh) and the dangers of taking the easy path rather than the right path. She's also talked about the books being about the dangers of tyranny. (See, I knew we could get from Harry Potter to TBIMG if we tried hard enough.)

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 12:03 am
by Liz
fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote:Funny you should mention Harry Potter. I've only read the first book, but have seen all the movies, the most recent of which I saw tonight. And at the very end it hit me....it seemed that the theme was pride and how it can bring your downfall. It happened to more than one character--if not total downfall, at least a slap on the wrist. I won't go into detail for those who have yet to see it. But I think those who have will know what I'm talking about. So you two are on the 2nd to last book? The new one comes out today/tonight, right?

Liz, the books are much better than the movies. I urge you to read them. (Did you think about absolute power when you watched Professor Umbridge?)

I'm rereading book 6 to prepare for book 7, which is currently at a UPS facility 15 minutes from me, according to Amazon. My daughter is at a ska concert and I am far too old to go to a midnight book sale on my own.

I don't know that pride is the theme. The books are an epic journey in the mythological tradition. It's easy to compare Harry Potter with Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings (and probably the Iliad and the Odyssey, too, if I knew them better). For a little laugh--
http://www.saynotocrack.com/index.php/2 ... fe-crisis/
J.K. Rowling says the books are about good vs. evil (duh) and the dangers of taking the easy path rather than the right path. She's also talked about the books being about the dangers of tyranny. (See, I knew we could get from Harry Potter to TBIMG if we tried hard enough.)


That's funny, Fansmom. But I don't expect we'll find out in the last book that Voldemort was his real father.

I hadn't thought of absolute power per se, but that definitely fits too, not only in Prof. Umbridge, but in Cornelius Fudge. I do think that absolute power and pride are related, though. I've just been focused a lot on the issue of pride lately. So I seem to see it in everything.

Sorry for the digression, folks.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:16 pm
by fansmom
Liz wrote:I've just been focused a lot on the issue of pride lately. So I seem to see it in everything.
Ah. You've been thinking about pride, and I've been thinking about evil. TBIMG, Schindler's List, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, rewatching the Lord of the Rings movies, and now (having finished HP last night,) I just started The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo.

http://www.amazon.com/Lucifer-Effect-Understanding-Good-People/dp/1400064112/ref=sr_1_1/002-4027524-2791213?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185061965&sr=1-1

Incidentally, Zimbardo references the shock experiment done by Stanley Milgram that suec mentioned. He also mentions learned helplessness, which is the term I was trying to think of (on question #10) when I said that Iraqis would have a hard time learning to think independently after years of following rules.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:26 pm
by Liz
suec wrote:Very interesting, fansmom! It highlights a number of similarities between cultures that we were discussing in that question.

When it comes to the question about absolute power, I don't think it is just fear that holds people back from challenging authority. It seems that it is human nature to be obedient - or for the majority to be so, anyway, according to the psychologist Stanley Milgram. He tested this theory in the sixties in some rather controversial experiments. He gives the details here:

http://home.swbell.net/revscat/perilsOfObedience.html

Add fear in as a factor on top, and the dictator stands a fair chance of success. The price, I suppose, is being followed from fear rather than love, but it depends what your priorities are. With everyone being so sycophantic, it may be that he loses his sense of reality, but I am not sure that would matter to him. If he is master of all he surveys, he can choose whatever reality he likes - until it does come crashing down. I think the loss of truth is a very high price, more so at the level of the ordinary people, husbands and wives unable to fully express their thoughts for fear of the bugs.


:-O Suec, I finally got around to reading this article today and found it quite interesting, eye-opening and very relevant to our discussion of absolute power, specifically how human nature perpetuates it. I found these points particularly interesting:

• That the need or desire to obey (even when it is totally voluntary) can override a moral sense.

• The rebellious action of others severely undermines authority -- In one variation, three teachers (two actors and a real subject) administered a test and shocks. When the two actors disobeyed the experimenter and refused to go beyond a certain shock level, thirty-six of forty subjects joined their disobedient peers and refused as well.

• In today’s society, many are not confronted with the consequences of a decision to carry out an evil act because the actual act is done by someone else and their part is just an intermediate link in a chain of actions.