I couldn’t believe my eyes while flipping TV channels. There on one station are two guys smacking each other upside their heads. All that I could see was them inflicting injury and life-long damage onto each other via teeth loss, broken noses, concussions, skull cracks and so on. Meanwhile the audience is cheering as these two fellows slam each other apart in their heads. Then one falls down unconscious due to much damage to his brain. What the hell?!?

It’s called boxing. I suppose it is a stand-in for war. Supposedly if we are placated by symbolic feats of war by a few individuals, we avoid war. Yeah, right. Roman gladiator ring.

Instead it looks like some form of undiagnosed mental illness to me –men hurting each other in sometimes lethal ways. What form of novel madness is this?

What kind of species have we that we cheer when people smack each other upside the head to the point of unconsciousness? This is pitiful insanity and I simply don’t belong here in this kind of extreme craziness that our species can express and exude. Vile!

Here’s another sort — a sort of opposite sort: So my parents landed at the town closest to the Matterhorn, a formidable mountain in Europe. Tired, but hungry, they asked their hotel concierge about where to eat and were directed to a near-by tavern where they could have a hearty meal before going to bed.

In the tavern, they noticed a group of very fit athletic men, handsome and strong, continually using binoculars pointed to the Matterhorn. Rugged and graceful in movement, they were forcing themselves to eat great deals of food.

When my parents inquired as to the reason, they were told that at dawn’s light, the band were skiing the Matterhorn in a rescue effort — to try to save anyone from the tourist group and from also the first rescue effort sent to help. Two groups down.

Both prior groups were buried in avalanches and this second group of helpers out, the people who my parents met, was the last group to be sent away. None were left after them with the skill sets needed — these people with staggering stamina, will power and ski abilities that comprise the totally best in the world. Such precision and beauty as they coordinate against the sheer vertical slopes to rescue and they looked grim to my parents as they readied themselves.

It seems that no one can escape the grim reaper when his sharp edged sickle is held outward. The people, who my parents met, were also all buried asunder, too — every single one of them.

I guess that it makes no difference if you’re a head smacker for prized money in a ring fight or as a supreme skier trying to dig out people buried under snow. Death gets you either way.

I can imagine the parents, children and wives of the last troupe of skiers gasping as they watched, through binoculars at dawn, the avalanche begin to tumble down onto the bodies of their loved ones. Gone. Gone for good in an instant.

This brings me to religion. Life after death, for example. … The rotted bodies from all three groups were fetched from the mountain slopes after the spring thaw.

My mother asked me on her death bed about life after death. I responded, “What do I know?” I don’t and that’s that for the head smackers, who sometimes beat each other to death or the mountain men trying some dauntless and failed effort. I just don’t know.

I used to annoy and vex my father as a teenager after he’d say some prayer at dinner time about “thank you for our food, God, and help everyone have enough to eat.”

That prayer used to infuriate me. So I’d ask my father: How did He provide our food? … and why did He give it to us exclusively and not them, too — the million that starves each day?”

I finally figured that God was either not all knowing, not all loving or not all powerful back in the eighties, so I thought then. One of those pieces was missing if we have such lacks and misery around us.

Run through the two permutations of the two out of the three and you’ll see the vision in my mind. It works to account for the lack, whatever single one is missing.

So I set on a quest to ask an Imam, a Buddhist nun, Hasidim Jewish priests, a Hindu and Catholic priests about why life is based on brutality — our using and eating each other up, and the reason for the paucity for some individuals dying off in want and deprivation. Big aims in mind about which to ask.

My favorite responses came from the Catholic priests. The first, from South America, told me that I was going to Hell for not being a Catholic. I loved his honesty in his view as he refused to discuss anything with me. It was so naked and absolute. He was beautifully firm and resolute. I had great respect for him on account for his adherence to his view. Sincere.

The second, an older and more seasoned USA born man, told me that he almost rejected the priesthood on account of the same awareness as mine. It was destroying his resolve, he told me and he hated God back then.

He, going forward in his discourse, told me that after a great inspection of himself, he decided that God let free will take place whether through evolution or other means. He, God, couldn’t interfere.

So it accounts for the head beaters. It also accounts for the skiers going after strangers with all-out effort against all reasonable odds.

I don’t know whether there is a God or gods. I just know that I don’t like people beating others upside the head. It alarms me for them and I feel so sorry for their mutual afflictions and paucity of being as they try to destroy each other for financial gain.

I also know that had I the replete ski abilities, I’d be right out there in the Matterhorn crew trying to salvage life and, oh yes, I met one of these types of saviors personally.

I was at Otis Ridge – A family friendly mountain in the Berkshires and had an elderly man as my ski instructor. He, gaunt and old, chased me down the slope and watched my flaws to state and show corrections using body language after we hit the flat bottom of the snow banks.

What did he do in WWII? On crude skis, the way that they were made back then, he went up and down mountains and into valleys to follow downed planes in Italy while hauling a heavy backpack filled with food and first aid supplies. No ski trails, just arduous work hour after hour hauling up and down.

He teaches, that, yes, we can dish it out. We can dish out badness like a head bash or goodness to others when we have the mind to do so.

It was an honor and a privilege to meet such a man and have him instruct me to improve in body movement, just as it was for my parents to meet the dauntless rescuers before their collective demise watched by their families with binoculars … and yet we go forward despite all odds on our metaphorical slopes. What else to do?

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.

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  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Violence is generally associated with money. People fight in a deadly sport to gain money through fame. Countries declare war on each other to occupy the land s and plunder resourcez for their corporates to make money. Religion rarely, is responsible for the violence and mayhem by human beings. It is useed as a pretext to develop animosity and perpetrate violence for the ultimate gain of money through exploitation

  2. Hello Sally,

    Thank you for a lovely and thoughtful article. I would like to have known more about the Catholic priest whose answer was free will and how, with this in mind, he worked his way out of hating God. “God”, the Supreme Creator that is multi-faceted beyond human understanding is not a white bearded man who has “us” under His control, but a living entity far beyond human form and understanding. The Christ, an aspect of this “Supreme Being” (Godhead, Father, etc.) – in fact, the Creative Logos, the creative energy of this Godhead descended into human form (a many millennia process) specifically so that our limited consciousness could begin to re-connect (re-legare) with the spiritual world after having descended so very far into material consciousness. This is one aspect of “religion” (re-legare/ re-connect). But “Christianity” in the early centuries rejected the concept of multiple earth lives and thereby cut humanity off to the truth. Only with the understanding of reincarnation and karmic responsibility (mitigated since the Deed of Christ by the reality of Forgiveness that had not existed before) can one begin to understand or at least contemplate the “whys” of human experience. We are not rewarded or punished by any outside entity, but rather we meet the results of our own deeds, good or bad and we actually, before coming back into earth life, choose for our self what we will experience – of course from a “higher” perspective that may be hard to accept while going through certain tribulations and pain.

    If these questions are really active in your soul, I can only recommend Dr. Rudolf Steiner as the person who has put the pieces of the “cosmic jigsaw puzzle” together in a way that is accessible to most people who are willing to think these ideas through. Best wishes for your journey of exploration!