Sunday July 30, 2006
I write this email due to a completely random event that occurred and has since sparked my interest in your area of study. I live in Hamilton, Canada in an apartment building just outside of the downtown area. I was on the top floor of my building doing laundry when a book caught my eye. In the corner of the room is an old used book shelf filled with old used books. I saw a book that read “FOR YOUR OWN GOOD,” I flipped through the pages and came across a section entitled, “Adolf Hitler’s Childhood,” it peaked my interest and I decided to start reading. As I read the pages I found myself very interested in both the account of Hitler’s childhood as well as the analysis provided and I was immediately flooded with ideas and questions surrounding your work.
I would like to take this opportunity to express those ideas and ask questions about your work, I noticed that you have a background in philosophy in addition to your other expertise and I myself very much enjoy reading and discussing philosophy. My initial thought while reading about Hitler was that he was a man who lived his life avenging his torturous childhood whether consciously or subconsciously. Much of what he experienced as child, the Jews and Germans experienced as a nation- i.e. the humiliation of the Jewish people, the constant fear of violence, punishment that Jewish people could not escape and could not do anything to change etc. In essence the very feelings Hitler himself experienced as a child. My immediate thought was: What impact did this have on the Jewish population as a nation, specifically are they now (as Hitler was) conditioned for violence being the figurative “abused child”? Are they now predestined to avenge their own abuse as Hitler and others in the past have? To summarize, if one man abused a child and as a result that child grew up to abuse a nation what now is the result and ramifications of the abused nation?
My next thought was surrounding violence itself, if it holds true that abuse leads to violent behavior later in life, which seems to be the case then what is the solution to such behaviour? That is to say if we are certain or near certain of the cause of violence can we deduce a viable and sustainable solution or deterrent in order to reduce the aggregate level violence? What can be done to curb or lessen the impact of potential sources of violence so as to break the chain of abuser – abusee?
Finally, in a more philosophical sense, what could be said of Christ’s childhood and subsequent violent death? Christ was not abused by his immediate family but endured criticism and ridicule from those who did not believe him throughout his entire life. Not to mention he himself did not know precisely who his father was, he had a series of subordinates and created a “family” of friends with his disciples, he too yearned for affection and love. I think it would be fascinating to explore Christ’s childhood in the same manner you have Hitler’s and thus we might find the cause for unexplainable love and tolerance as Hitler’s life has helped to shed light on what causes unexplainable hate. Obviously that would involve tremendous research and would have to operate on the premise that Christ was a real tangible person, perhaps it could be done in a hypothetical sense.
Curiously, C. B.
AM: Try to find and read the book “JESUS” by Donald Capps; maybe it is exactly what you are looking for.