Sufferings of innocents



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Sufferings of innocents


  1. Turks fondle the baby, make it laugh, let it play with the pistol pointed at its face. The baby laughs, reaches out its little hands to grab the pistol, and suddenly the artist of cruelty pulls the trigger right in its face and shatters its little head. The main delight comes from doing it before the mother’s eyes. (pp. 238-239)




  1. Richard, who grew up like a wild beast in the mountains, went into Geneva, and ended up killing and robbing some old man. In prison he was surrounded by members of various Christian brotherhoods, philanthropic ladies, and so on, who taught him to read and write, began expounding the Gospel to him, and finally taught him to confess his crime. At last he was deemed worthy of being illumined by the Lord and receiving grace. Then they took him out to the scaffold. Richard simply wept with emotion, “Yes, grace has descended upon me, too, I am dying in the Lord”. And brother Richard is dragged up onto the scaffold, laid down on the guillotine and his head is whacked off in brotherly fashion. (p. 240)




  1. Nekrasov has a poem describing a peasant flogging a horse on its eyes with a knout, ‘on its meek eyes.’ (pp. 240-241)




  1. An educated gentleman and his lady flog their own daughter, a child of seven, with a birch. The papa is glad that the birch is covered with little twigs, so it will smart more. These floggers get more excited with every stroke to the point of sensuality -- for one minute, five minutes, ten minutes, longer, faster, harder. The child is crying, she finally cannot cry, she has no breath left. The case comes to court, a lawyer is hired, and the jury acquits the torturer: for, the lawyer argued, “the case is quite domestic and ordinary – a father has flogged his daughter and to the shame of our times it has come to court.” (p. 241)




  1. A five year old girl wet her bed. For this her parents beat her, kicked her, smeared her face with excrement and made her eat the excrement, and it was her mother who made her eat it. And then they left her all night in a freezing outhouse, where she beat herself on her chest with her little fist, weeping with her anguished, gentle, meek tears for ‘dear kind God’ to protect her. (p. 242)




  1. An eight year old serf boy on a general’s estate accidentally injured the paw of the general’s favorite hunting hound. The general had them take him from his mother’s arms, and locked him up all night. The next morning the general rode out in full dress for the hunt, mounted his horse, surrounded by spongers, dogs, handlers, huntsmen on horseback. The general orders them to undress the boy. He is stripped naked. He is terrified, shivering in the autumn cold. The huntsmen shout, ‘Run, run!’ The boy runs. ‘Sic him!’ screams the general, and looses the whole pack of wolfhounds on him, which hunt him down before his mother’s eyes and tear him to pieces… The general was later declared incompetent to administer his estates. (pp. 242-243)

Without all this, so they say, the world would have been less perfect, there could have been no higher harmony, man could not even have lived on earth, for he would not have known good and evil. And at the end the universe will tremble, when all in heaven and earth and under the earth merge in one voice of praise, and all that lives and has lived cries out: “Just art thou, O Lord, for thy ways are revealed!” (pp. 242, 244)



Ivan’s problem of theodicy (p. 245)



  1. If God’s world (which, despite the evils in it, is to be revealed at the end as a higher harmony) is to be accepted, then the sufferings of innocents (the “tears of the one tormented child”) must be redeemed.




  1. Redemption of these sufferings is possible only through (a) vengeance against those who inflict them or (b) forgiveness of those who inflicted them.




  1. (a) Vengeance cannot redeem the sufferings of innocents because it leaves these sufferings unaffected; further, it only destroys the harmony that was supposed to be the reason why God’s world is to be accepted.




  1. Forgiveness can redeem only if we have a right to forgive.




  1. In order to have a right to forgive, we must have standing to forgive.




  1. Each person has standing to forgive only evils done to her; the mother of the child torn apart by dogs has the standing to forgive her own suffering, but not that of her child. (Note also that the innocents cannot forgive, because – being innocent, and not understanding the evil done to them -- they do not even condemn it; and this fact only enrages us the more at what is done to them, makes us less able to forgive it.)




  1. The sufferings of innocents is not an evil done to us (who are not innocent and are considering these sufferings).




  1. Therefore, we (who are considering the sufferings of innocents) do not have standing to forgive them. (From 6, 7)




  1. Therefore, we have no right to forgive the sufferings of innocents (from 5, 8)




  1. (b) Therefore, forgiveness cannot redeem the sufferings of innocents. (From 4, 9)




  1. Therefore, redemption of the sufferings of innocents is not possible. (From 2, 3, 10)




  1. Therefore, we must renounce the higher harmony and reject God’s world (“return the ticket of admission”). (From 1, 11)


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