Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quote for the Day

Quote for the day from French and Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ book Entre Nous, pp. 99-100. It’s dense reading; spend some time with it:

The portion of humanity that, from Sarajevo to Cambodia, witnessed a host of cruelties in the course of a century in which its Europe, with its “human sciences,” seemed to have fully explored its subject – the humanity that, during all these horrors, breathed – already or still – the smoke from the ovens of the “final solution” crematoria where theodicy abruptly appeared impossible – will it, in indifference, abandon the world to useless suffering, leaving it to the political fatality – or drifting – of blind forces that inflict misfortune on the weak and conquered, while sparing the conquerors, with whom the shrewd are not slow to align themselves?

Or, incapable of adhering to an order – or a disorder – that it continues to think diabolical, must not humanity now, in a faith more difficult than before, in a faith without theodicy, continue to live out Sacred History; a history that now demands even more from the resources of the I in each one of us, and from its suffering inspired by the suffering of the other, from its compassion which is a non-useless suffering (or love), which is not longer suffering “for nothing,” and immediately has meaning?

At the end of the twentieth century and after the useless and unjustifiable pain which is exposed and displayed therein without any shadow of a consoling theodicy, are we not all committed – like the Jewish people to their faithfulness—to the second term of this alternative? This is a new modality in the faith of today, and even in our moral certitudes; a modality most essential to the modernity that is dawning.

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