Incompetence & Where are Judas & Hitler?
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
In my April 1, 2020 NY Times Editorial -The Wall That Didn’t Stop Covid-19 I was shocked by the first paragraph:
Three weeks ago, with much of the United States already gearing up to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump administration’s chief immigration judge sent a stern order to immigration courts nationwide to take down all public health posters, printed in English and Spanish, on how to deal with the pandemic. “Per our leadership,” the order said, immigration judges did not have the authority to post fliers. “If you see one (attached), please remove it.”
The rest of the editorial is even more damning but I had to stop and reflect on what I was reading.
Sometime in 1959 in our St. Ed’s High School religion class (we were unaware at the time that we were being taught Aristotelian and Thomistic [St. Thomas Aquinas] theology/philosophy with Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. We thought we were tricking Brother Edwin by distracting him from the day’s lecture by asking off-the-cuff questions. We thought we were wasting time before the next period which was lunch. Thinking back, I now understand that Brother Edwin welcomed our wasting his time because it gave us the opportunity to ask relevant questions.
One such day we asked a double-barrelled question, “ Did Judas and Hitler go to hell?”
Brother Edwin in that calm voice of his began by telling us that every human being born is born with an inherent quality called dignity or human dignity. He stressed the inherent part of it telling us that this dignity is an important part of our makeup of being a human being.
Reading between the lines (he rarely mentioned God) we figured that what he meant is if God had picked those to be born, like any other human they had dignity. And that dignity cannot be taken away.
He finished off his lecture by telling us that he had no way of knowing if Judas and Hitler had gone to hell.
Reflecting again on Brother Edwin’s words it almost seems as he did not believe in the existence of evil and that Lucifer was by definition a fallen angel (off the wagon?). Brother Edwin in my memory lost his temper only twice. In all other times he was the model of placidity which he showed with a quiet smile.
After reading that NY Time editorial I grew angry. My anger dissipated when I thought of Brother Edwin and then I remembered what former Georgia Straight Editor and Vancouver Sun Editorial Board writer, Charles Campbell, told me once. We in the magazine and newspaper business could not understand the goings on in those past years as the paper deteriorated. We had all kinds of conspiracy theories. Campbell set me straight, “There is no conspiracy as that would assume that the so-called conspirators are intelligent. Plain in simple the debacle is due to incompetence.”
I believe he is right and thanks to him and to Brother Edwin I can go to bed a calmed old man.
The picture below I saw at a market in Buenos Aires in the late 1980s. It was the San Telmo Market and many went to it to look for SS and Nazi memorabilia. The man who had this framed picture told me it was not for sale but allowed me to photograph it. Is the man in the picture the man I think he is?And where is he? Down there or up there?
Originally published at http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.