Human Condition Transcends the Esoteric Term Paper

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The world would now be required to accept socialism, Leninism, and eventually Stalinism, as part of the European landscape.

With the defeat of Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire; the shift in the balance of power moved toward the only major participant not devastated on its own soil by war -- the United States. The U.S. grew in economic power after Versailles, assisting not only its former allies in rebuilding, but also a crucial and profitable effort to help finance Germany's rebuilding and aid the new Weimar Republic. However, because of the failure of the war to achieve the ideals of peace and unity promised by President Woodrow Wilson, America shifted to an isolationist foreign policy -- it was deemed acceptable to be economically aggressive, but politically neutral. Until the stock market crash of 1929 and resultant Depression, the U.S. enjoyed a decade of relative prosperity and limelight due to its ability to service many of the economic needs of war-torn Europe.

While sometimes neglected, the great influenza pandemic was a direct result of the population dynamics in World War I. An extremely virulent new strain of flu, first identified in the United States and mistakenly called "The Spanish Flu," was carried into Europe by infected military personnel. 25% of the American population contracted the virus, and those at risk (aged or infants) were top on the mortality list. The disease spread rapidly through Europe, eventually covering the globe as a pandemic; partially because much of the population was nutritionally weak from a lack of proper diet during the war. Estimates range up to 50 million dead of the disease, far more than died in battle.

The Treaty of Versailles and the resultant League of Nations would also change the geopolitical and cultural map of the world. Laying the blame completely with German, Versailles challenged Germany to pay almost $10 billion in war reparations, which would have taken over 75 years to repay, pushing Germany into an economic catastrophe. The Treaty was socially humiliating, and was used as fuel to rearm Germany, retake portions of Europe, and as an excuse to enter World War II. The United States never ratified the Treaty, and never joined the League of Nations; a body designed to allow debate and peaceful disagreements to be resolved so that another global ware would be unnecessary.

Socially and technologically, the war changed the landscape of human tolerance, belief, and even possibilities. Technologically, aviation and nautical improvements resulted in greater commercial uses of airplanes, improvements in ocean travel, and underwater exploration. Biological warfare led to numerous medical and commercial applications and improvements; and the necessity of munitions and military production led to greater industrialization and mass production for factories of all types. Advances in chemical warfare led to new materials and ways of combining materials to create new metals and plastics. Medical techniques continued to improve as a result of attempts to stem the carnage of the battlefield.

Socially, there seemed to be a general malaise and trauma that affected much of the world. The so-called "Lost Generation," the young intellectuals of the early 20th century, never fully recovered from the hypocrisy of their experience. Versailles helped to plunge the world into a Depression in the early 1930. The horrors of chemical and aerial warfare frightened enough people to recognize that the next war could devastate a population even more -- thus was born the disarmament movement. There was a great deal of disillusionment, manifested in different ways (e.g. isolationism in the United States; nihilism in Europe, etc.). The world shrunk much to do with soldiers from around the globe serving with one another -- thus engendering a more human view of the world. African-Americans, returning to the United States after service, expected something different and more positive -- thus was born the Harlem Renaissance. The landscape of Europe changed -- economically, politically, and geographically -- the Old Regime had finally collapsed, and unfortunately, the new regime failed to resolve its conflicts prior to another military intervention.

4.2 -- One of the more powerful psychological tools shared by many humans is the ability to rise above the horrors of life and not only cope but find something noble and meaningful out of the experience. Whether through irony or disambiguation, we can use literature in a way that literature can help the human soul cope, if not understand, a world paradoxically backwards, or events that attack the very nature of our souls?

For example, in Franz Kafka's short story, "A Report to the Academy," a former ape presents a rather academic tome to other academics about his realization that he had to get outside of his nature -- to change from ape into proto-human and become a performer in order to survive. The only way this ape could remain free, and out of the zoo, was to emulate his captors (Kafka, 2006). One can certainly make a number of allusions to this regarding the Holocaust: how many Jews were required to perform for their Nazi masters simply to stay alive? In Auschwitz there were six orchestras, and almost every concentration camp had at least some sort of prison staffed performers -- kept fed more and alive just to please the officers. And the performers, most left the camps knowing that it was their ability to put themselves into their music simply to survive -- and survival was necessary to not only tell the story of the events but to ensure that the Nazi extermination plan was foiled (The Holocaust - Orchestras, 2009).

However, it is not just the victims of war that are forever changed; it is both the participants and witnesses as well. There is something about the brutality of humans against humans that, for some, brings out the darkness in the human spirit -- the way that the distinctions between right and wrong become blurry and unclear. In fact, comparing war to an eclipse, one pilot who was part of a mass bombing in Europe noted that war, too, was a time when the world goes dark and strange things happen -- almost as if the pinpoints of light from the bombs that drop are far more than intended. Once one can get past every speck of light on the ground having the potential effect of killing or maiming hundreds, well -- what does one do to justify the sanitary pushing of that red button? (Childers, 2004).

This is certainly echoed in "My First Goose" a war story that shows what someone who was good, educated, kind and thoughtful prior to war does when placed into a horrific situation. This character, Liutov, for instance, kills an old peasant woman's goose, then orders her to cook it for him. In order for Liutov to justify his behavior -- most unlike his real self, he says, he must adopt a different persona so the other soldiers will accept him. Therefore, he must remove himself from the very personification of how he sees himself and becomes someone else (Chandler, 2006, 236). Certainly this theme is echoed in many aspects of war -- ordinary citizens turning on their neighbors, the spying of families against each other, and the mild-mannered accountant becoming a brutal prison guard -- all in the name of a greater cause and the ability to move outside one's self.

5.1 - In the contemporary world, there are three major Abrahamic religions that are at the forefront of social, political, and cultural events worldwide: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All are called Abrahamic religions because each utilizes the teachings of Abraham in its central historical view of the world. Each of the three Abrahamic faiths are monotheistic, and actually account for over 50% of the world's population, or almost 4 billion people. Note, too, that besides the three major traditions, other religions cite their traditions from Abraham: Mandaenism, Rastafairnism, Bahai, Samaritan, and the Druze.It is also interesting to note that within these three religious teachings, there are considerable areas of commonality, yet the three are often at odds with one another over political and social issues, even in the contemporary world. An offshoot of Christianity, at least in the historical sense, is relatively new (in terms of religion), that of Non-Denominational Protestantism (Bowker, 2006)

For Islam, God is mysterious (Allah), not meant to be interpreted, or even totally understood. Instead, for Islam, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the words of the Koran are designed to affect every aspect of a human's world (law, culture, diet, etc.). This is clearly not true with Vineyard, who are loose, less concerned with the how and more with just the why. Islam is rather intolerant of other faiths, especially believing that while the historical prophets, including Jesus, were wise and from God, the Christian interpretation is all wrong, distorted. For Islam, the truth begins in the so-called modern world with 7th c, Arabia. The Koran is meant to be chanted, and has changed very little in…[continue]

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