Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Dear Friends, this painting depicts the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den where, according to the Bible, Daniel was delivered from the lion's jaws because of his faith in one of the many Gods that history is replete with. As a child, I was very taken by this story.

I have just read about the Rape of Nanking which took place in 1937 during the Japanese invasion of China. 330,000 Chinese people, men, women and children, were sadistically tortured, butchered and raped by the Japanese. Some of the black and white photographs of the victims I saw will haunt me forever (click on Google Images then type in Rape of Nanking if you're game).

As a result, I see the painting above not as noble, beautiful man being saved from the savage beasts but as man being an integral part of the kingdom of savage beasts therefore quite at home among them.

In the last century, Nanking, Hiroshima, Iraq, Jenin, Auschwitz, Vietnam, etc, are places where atrocities have been carried out. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Bush, Sharon, etc, are men who, with the help of people just like you and I, have killed many thousands, in some cases millions. If you go back through history you'll find thousands of other examples.

Savagery and deliberate cruelty is very much part of human nature.

How can we alter our ugly primitiveness?


Mary Walsh said...

Sometimes the animals behave with more humanity than man himself.

There is much of the savage beast in us throughout history but in balance I think we are doing OK.

We're living longer than ever before, and due to technology throughout the ages, our living standards have improved.

I have a washing machine!

The one method of counteracting all the horrors of history Daniel is actually learn from the lessons it teaches us.

The Jews learnt nothing from the History provided for them first hand by Hitler and have gone on to replicate his message brilliantly.

All power to the Victors! (perhaps)

The really good news is that it is getting harder to suppress the weak in favour of the strong because equality is coming with globazation to the masses....as more people become educated it is harder to stop people from thinking for themselves.....and throughout history there has always been a Knight in shining armour somewhere.....but as with America in Iraq, be aware the Greek bearing gifts....

I am glad Daniel your childhood memories created by Daniel in the Lion's Den are good...it beats Mary Mary Quite Contrary, a song which I grew to hate literally.

Mary Walsh

L. Sparrow said...

"Savagery and deliberate cruelty is very much part of human nature".

In profound idealism and heartfelt sorrow I scream that I dissagree.

I believe that most of the "leaders" that you had mentioned were all heartless and deliberatley cruel ... and the people fearfully followed.... this is the problem... following, or being forced to follow.

I believe that humans are savage and deliberatly cruel when forced to defend thelmselves.... and of course then there are psychologocial problems to contend with.

I think our ugly primitive instincts will only subside once we have a society where everyone feels safe and valued.

Daniel said...

Two interesting comments.

Lil, I dare you to view the Goggle images of Nanking then tell me again that the soldiers only did what they did because they were forced to. The photos showed they enjoyed every minute of it.

Mary, I wonder about whether education is making any difference. Most of the pilots that fly the bombing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are 'educated'.

dining_philosopher said...


I am surprised that you came across Nanking only today. I guess you dont have any chinese friends. Nanking is one of the reasons why Chinese really hate the Japanese. And thats why I am personally little sceptical about Nanking. Yes, I have seen the pictures a long time ago. But we all know that the chinese government is very much capable of propaganda. Anyway, I am not saying that it did not happen. I am just saying that we need to have some scepticism. Though, I completely agree with you that humans are capable of such savagery. Maybe you should read up on India-Pakistan partition story. What happened during that period wasn't different from what supposedly happened in Nanking. It was gruesome. One story goes that Pakistanis climbed into a train to India and cut off the breasts of all women in the train...i for one believe that such things definitely happened and still happen today - the recent story of the rape of 14-year old Iraqi girl by US marines is an example. Humans are inherently barbarian. Evil resides in all of us.

Anyway, I guess it is the pictures that make all the difference...and thats one of the main reasons why I am sceptical about their authenticity.

Daniel said...

I guess it's not easy to get a fix on humans, DP. We seem to be capable of such extremes of behaviour: composing symphonies, creating wonderful art like the statue of David, and the paintings of Reubens, AND committing gross atrocities.

Fair dinkum!

Coffee Messiah said...

There's no denying these events happened, and no denying people are not "forced" to follow their leaders. What's sad is there are so many people willing to take advantage of others for their own gains, whatever that may be! ; (

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that most of the most evil stories of barbarism that occur the world and centuries over are rarely perpetrated by woman.
Is it only me noticing this? Maybe savagery is primarily a male trait, Dan, and not a general "human" one?

Daniel said...

Ah, Coffee, like an onion, we are trying to take layers off human beings to discover what really lies underneath. We may not like what we find!

Zoe, when I read about the woman in America who devoloped a relationship with a pregnant woman, killed her when she was almost ready to give birth, cut the baby out of her womb, then took the baby back to her town and said it was hers; that was when I wondered about women as well. But I agree that men are far worse!

We humans are a sorry lot!

betmo said...

ahhh... a little light reading with my morning cuppa :) i suppose we could debate over which set of atrocities is worse. i think it is a cop out to say that the masses in the western world anyway are 'forced' into doing anything. americans in particular are not forced. the germans were not forced nor are the israelis. they allowed to happen to the scapegoats what happened and what continues on. why? because we are taught bigotry and racism. the germans thought jews were inferior; the israelis today think that palestinians are inferior and americans think everyone else is inferior. wrap your mind around why we have a gitmo or abu ghraib or rape and murder. war may be war but i see no difference in what has happened in the middle east and africa and what happened in asia. did that make sense? i usually have 2 cuppas before i start typing :)

Mary Walsh said...

In fairness to mankind I must defend him.

Of course there is much evil in humans but then there is also much kindness.

When we look at the thousands of volunteers who give of their free time to help others, including fire fighters who put their lives at risk we see goodness.

I have no intention of going to view a Japanese pictorial of horror. The German gas chambers were sufficient in which jews, gypsies and differently abled were all killed.

My brother in law of 52 years is Chinese and he lived during the Japanese occupation in Penang. He recalls three things...if the population did not interfere with Government they were mostly left unharmed..I said "mostly", he recalls eating mice they were so hungry, and he recalls being knocked off his bike as a child by a Japanese Officer. He was picked up off the road with his bike, returned back home by car, his family given food and infrequently called in on, to check on his wellbeing.

For every message of evil, looking elsewhere can find good....

Yes, the pilot that drops the bomb is "educated" but is also drilled to follow orders regardless. They're not paid to think for themselves.

Again for every educated moron I believe there are a dozen others who actually use their education to make a worthwhile contribution to their societies.

For every Hitler there is a Pasteur. There will always be "Daniels" to keep us thinking.

Life could be a lot worse.

Mary Walsh

Daniel said...

Hey Betmo, I need two cups as well! Perceptive comment. Much fault lies in what is taught. Just imagine if everyone was taught they were a member of the human race and, individually, they were no more important than any other human in the world and that everyone had the right to share equally in the world's bounty! Just imagine.

Mary, your comment that 'Life could be a lot worse' is priceless. I'm going to make a little sign saying that and put it in my office. Thanks for you valuable input. Cheers.

L. Sparrow said...

Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1754 - the domestication of man ....

Thought (rather than a belief) perhaps those of us who are capable of such horrific violence are the ones that have not been "domesticated" ...

I did see the photos of Nanking ....

QUESTION: If man can be domesticated, man can be trained to kill or to cure.

In times of war man is trained to kill with "justification." SOME Soldiers in all the wars on this planet have committed great atrocities OUTSIDE of their duty. These are the individuals we need to question ....

Daniel said...

It's the old nature vs nurture debate, Lil. I'm beginning to think that nature is the stronger and, given the right circumstances, it will overcome any domestication. Hope I'm wrong! Cheers.

dining_philosopher said...

Every single one of us - doesn't matter where we were born and how we grew up and what we have between our legs - every single one of us is capable of committing unspeakable atrocities. the human mind is such that it becomes easily desensitized. Thats necessary for our survival. If your or I kill a man, maybe the first time it will hurt. But as we keep doing it, it will become routine...and we will go numb. Thats how it is with everything - smoking, drinking, drugs, screwing your neighbor's wife... We are all capable of doing all the bad things. Civilization is when we have an inclination and desire to fight the temptation to commit a sin - even when we are 100% sure that we will get away with it. Inclination and desire dont translate into ability. Ability comes with practice. And it is the practice that Daniel is calling "nurture". having lived in the west for some time, I think the west has reached a stage where nobody cares about "practice" anymore. It is not kosher to talk about self-control and being content. The emphasis is on greed or ambition and going and getting what you want - no matter what it is and no matter what the price. that to me, is the end of civilization and the road to barbarism.

Daniel said...

It's interesting you would choose to use a Jewish word like 'kosher', DP. Was it a Freudian slip?

dining_philosopher said...

I have nothing against Jewish words daniel. In fact, a lot of Indians in the US like "kosher". I have some friends who are "strict" vegetarians. Meaning, they dont even want to buy food which has animal fat in it. So, they look for the "Kosher" label on the food items they buy. I dont know much about kosher food but I guess it is not supposed to contain animal meat or fat.

Daniel said...

Because of Israel's brutal actions over forty years, words connected to the Jewish culture have a negative connotation for me, D.P.


Anonymous said...

It seems like the Asian community in the United States has no problem with Japan being portrayed heroically in World War II.


Outstanding Film: Letters from Iwo Jima

Nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima tells the untold story of the Japanese soldiers who defended their homeland against invading American forces during World War II. With little defense other than sheer will and the volcanic rock of Iwo Jima itself, the unprecedented tactics of General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai) and his men transform what was predicted to be a swift defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic and resourceful combat. Their sacrifices, struggles, courage and compassion live on in the taut, gripping film Rolling Stone calls “unique and unforgettable.” It is the powerful companion to Flags of our Fathers.


I am not one to hold a grudge but the Japanese used Chinese citizens for chemical warfare testing. The Chinese still haven’t forgiven them for that.

And somehow American history has lost the stories of how the Japanese treated American Prisoners of War

And how about the Rape of Nanking?



But, no to Clint Eastwood (and I guess the American Asian Community who honored his film) the Japanese soldiers were merely defending their homeland against those mean olde invading American imperialists.

Clint Eastwood is a traitor to America who has denigrated all those who fought in the Pacific as merely racist imperialists going after the yellow men instead of the liberators of Asia which they really were.

I spit on Clint Eastwood! No wonder Hollyweird can’t distinguish the good guys from the bad guys in Iraq when they can’t even do that when it comes to the Japanese in World War II.

By the way, on the Truth Serum video, of course I disagree with the whole part accusing Bush or America covering it up in order to get access to the scientific research that the Japanese inhumanly performed. That is just insane.

But everything else on that Truth Serum video seems historically accurate. If that isn’t the case, I would really appreciate someone educating me to the inaccuracies in the video.

I do wonder why we didn’t after World War II convict Japanese of War Crimes to the extent we did the Germans. They Japanese did terrible things to AMERICAN POWs. From my understanding the Japanese treated American POWs far worst by and large than the Germans did. And then of course there was the way they treated the Asian Civilian communities they invaded. They never seemed to be personally held accountable for it the way the Germans were the Holocaust.