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NoME Part Three: Chapter 7: Session 850, May 2, 1979 16/38 (42%) idealists idealism kill shalt Thou
– The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events
– Part Three: People Who Are Frightened of Themselves
– Chapter 7: The Good, the Bad, and the Catastrophic. Jonestown, Harrisburg, and When Is an Idealist a Fanatic?
– Session 850, May 2, 1979 9:49 P.M. Wednesday

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Give us a moment… Let us look at the many forms idealism can take. Sometimes it is difficult to identify idealists, because they wear such pessimistic clothing that all you can see are the patterns of a sardonic nature, or of irony. On the other hand, many who speak most glowingly, in the most idealistic fashions, underneath are filled with the darkest aspects of pessimism and despair. If you are idealists, and if you feel relatively powerless in the world at the same time, and if your idealism is general and grandiose, unrelated to any practical plans for its expression, then you can find yourself in difficulties indeed. Here are a few specific examples of what I mean.

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He cited many instances of nefarious acts committed for money’s sake. A lively discussion resulted, but no countering opinion could enter this man’s mind. Roger, let us call him, is an idealist at heart, but he believes that the individual has little power in the world, and so he did not pursue his personal idealism in the events of his own life. “Everyone is a slave to the system.” That is his line of belief. He took a routine job in a local business and stayed with it for over 20 years, all of the time hating to go to work, or saying that he did, and at the same time refusing to try other areas of activity that were open to him — because he was afraid to try.

He feels he has betrayed himself, and he projects that betrayal outward until betrayal is all that he sees in the socio-political world. Had he begun the work of actualizing his ideals through his own private life, he would not be in such a situation. The expression of ideals brings about satisfaction, which then of course promotes the further expression of practical idealism.

Roger speaks the same way in any social group, and therefore to that extent spreads a negative and despairing aura. I do not want to define his existence by those attitudes alone, however, for when he forgets the great gulf between his idealism and practical life, and speaks about other activities, then he is full of charming energy. That energy could have sustained him far more than it has, however, had he counted on his natural interests and chosen one of those for his life’s work. He could have been an excellent teacher. He had offers of other jobs that would have pleased him more, but he is so convinced of his lack of power that he did not dare take advantage of the opportunities. There are satisfactions in his life [however] that prevent him from narrowing his focus even further.

If you want to change the world for the better, then you are an idealist. If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe it cannot be changed one whit, then you are a pessimist, and your idealism will only haunt you. If you want to change the world for the better, but you believe that it will grow worse, despite everyone’s efforts, then you are a truly despondent, perhaps misguided idealist. If you want to change the world for the better, and if you are determined to do so, no matter at what cost to yourself or others, no matter what the risk, and if you believe that those ends justify any means at your disposal, then you are a fanatic.

(10:14.) Fanatics are inverted idealists. Usually they are vague grandiose dreamers, whose plans almost completely ignore the full dimensions of normal living. They are unfulfilled idealists who are not content to express idealism in steps, one at a time, or indeed to wait for the practical workings of active expression. They demand immediate action. They want to make the world over in their own images (louder). They cannot bear the expression of tolerance or opposing ideas. They are the most self-righteous of the self-righteous, and they will sacrifice almost anything — their own lives or the lives of others. They will justify almost any crime for the pursuit of those ends.

Two young women visited Ruburt lately. They were exuberant, energetic, and filled with youthful idealism. They want to change the world. Working with the Ouija board, they received messages telling them that they could indeed have a part in a great mission. One young lady wanted to quit her job, stay at home, and immerse herself in “psychic work,” hoping that her part in changing the world could be accomplished in that manner. The other was an office worker.

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When you fulfill your own abilities, when you express your personal idealism through acting it out to the best of your ability in your daily life, then you are changing the world for the better.

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Idealism also presupposes “the good” as opposed to “the bad,” so how can the pursuit of “the good” often lead to the expression of “the bad?” For that, we will have to look further.

There is one commandment above all, in practical terms — a Christian commandment that can be used as a yardstick. It is good because it is something you can understand practically: “Thou shalt not kill.” That is clear enough. Under most conditions you know when you have killed. That [commandment] is a much better road to follow, for example than: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” for many of you do not love yourselves to begin with, and can scarcely love your neighbor as well. The idea is that if you love your neighbor you will not treat him poorly, much less kill him — but the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill,” says you shall not kill your neighbor no matter how you feel about him. So let us say in a new commandment: “Thou shalt not kill even in the pursuit of your ideals.”2

What does that mean? In practical terms it would mean that you would not wage war for the sake of peace. It would mean that you did not kill animals in experiments, taking their lives in order to protect the sacredness of human life. That would be a prime directive: “Thou shalt not kill even in the pursuit of your ideals” — for man has killed for the sake of his ideals as much as he has ever killed for greed, or lust, or even the pursuit of power on its own merits.

You are a fanatic if you consider (underlined) possible killing for the pursuit of your ideal. For example, your ideal may be — for ideals differ — the production of endless energy for the uses of mankind, and you may believe so fervently in that ideal — this added convenience to life — that you considered the hypothetical possibility of that convenience being achieved at the risk of losing some lives along the way. That is fanaticism.

(10:53.) It means that you are not willing to take the actual steps in physical reality to achieve the ideal, but that you believe that the end justifies the means: “Certainly some lives may be lost along the way, but overall, mankind will benefit.” That is the usual argument. The sacredness of life cannot be sacrificed for life’s convenience, or the quality of life itself will suffer. In the same manner, say, the ideal is to protect human life, and in the pursuit of that ideal you give generations of various animals deadly diseases, and sacrifice their lives.3 Your justification may be that people have souls and animals do not, or that the quality of life is less in the animals, but regardless of those arguments this is fanaticism — and the quality of human life itself suffers as a result, for those who sacrifice any kind of life along the way lose some respect for all life, human life included. The ends do not justify the means (all very emphatically).

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1. On April 20, technicians managed to lower below the boiling point the temperature of the cooling water in the damaged nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island; this success was achieved just 24 days after the accident began to unfold on March 28. The reactor hasn’t reached an ideal “cold shutdown,” however, when it will be on a natural circulation of water at atmospheric pressure; that situation will come about when an independent backup cooling system is completed several weeks from now.

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2. Here Seth probably referred to material that Jane and I recently came across concerning the views of a “radical” philosophy of change: Violence is permissible in order to bring about a revolution which, in turn, would lead to a new age. In that utopian society man would be free from restraints and could unify his intellect and intuitions. Many people have held such fashionable views in recent decades. Many still do. We speculated about the inevitable contradictions that would emerge should man ever manage to achieve such an “ideal” state, or society — for, given, his always restless and creative nature, he’d immediately start changing his supposed utopia. With some amusement we also considered the reactions of such radicals should they ever find themselves personally threatened or assaulted through the very “permissible” violence they advocate.

3. Seth referred to the way mice, rats, rabbits, and other animals are raised in laboratory captivity, to be sold to scientific researchers who conduct experiments with them that would be considered “unethical” to do in human beings. Mice, for example, are inbred in a sanitized environment for many generations until genetically “pure” strains are obtained; these ideal “models” for research into human defects may be born with — or develop — obesity, various cancers (including leukemia), epilepsy, different anemias, muscular dystrophy, and so forth. Some are born as dwarfs, or hairless, or with deformed or missing limbs. Inbred mice are also used now to test human environmental hazards.

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