Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dante – The Curse on Those Who Do Nothing in the Face of Evil

This was a quote used by John F. Kennedy and then augmented by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is adapted from Dante.

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”  

The actual passage from Dante here:

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries 
were echoing across the starless air, 
so that, as soon as I [Dante] set out, I wept.
Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements, 
accents of anger, words of suffering, 
and voice shrill and faints, and beating hands -
All went to make a tumult that will whirl 
forever through that turbid, timeless air, 
like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.
And I - my head oppressed by horror - said: 
"Master [Virgil], what is it that I hear? Who are 
those people so defeated by their pain?"
And he to me: "This miserable way 
is taken by the sorry souls of those 
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels, 
the company of those who were not rebels 
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened, 
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them - 
even the wicked cannot glory in them."
And I: "What is it, master, that oppresses 
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?" 
He answered: "I shall tell you in few words.
Those who are here can place no hope in death, 
and their blind life is so abject that they 
are envious of every other fate.
The world will let no fame of theirs endure; 
both justice and compassion must disdain them; 
let us not talk of them, but look and pass."
And I, looking more closely, saw a banner 
that, as it wheeled about, raced on - so quick 
that any respite seemed unsuited to it.
Behind that banner trailed so long a file 
of people - I should never have believed 
that death could have unmade so many souls.
After I had identified a few, 
I saw and recognized the shade of him 
who made, through cowardice, the great refusal.
At once I understood with certainty: 
this company constrained the cowardly, 
hateful to God and to His enemies.
These wretched ones, who never were alive, 
went naked and were stung again, again 
by horseflies and by wasps that circled them.
The insects streaked their faces with their blood, 
which, mingled with their tears, fell at their feet, 
where it was gathered up by sickening worms.

We must keep fighting, even if we go down defeated!!


Ralph Musgrave said...

God here. I actually preserve the “hottest places in Hell” for people who actively promote evil while claiming to be “doing God’s work”. No names mentioned, of course.

Yours sincerely, God.

Roger Erickson said...

So both Ralph & Mike are talking about Economists.

For it's possible to create proxies and then instruct them to do your bidding, and then pretend to be only doing their bidding.

Even evil humans can wear multiple, interleaved hats. It's called degeneracy.

Roger Erickson said...

‘On all sides barely an honest word will be ­spoken.’

This runs deep. Not just in economics.

Peter Pan said...

I thought Mike was taking about those who are comfortable. That's a larger demographic than economists.