How far will you go for "progress"?

Throughout many of the texts we read this semester, there was a common theme involving war, pain, struggle, and suffering. Each book tried to explain and/or justify the reasons why people would participate in all of these destructive and cruel acts. Some described it as human nature; others saw it as the misinterpretation of certain images; others were blinded by their overly optimistic outlook to the point where they refused to acknowledge the horror; and then there were those who clouded their judgment in the name of progress. Using a philosophical teaching from Philip J. Ivanhoe's The Daodejing, I will depict, illustrate, and explain the different ways in which war and suffering have been depicted and the different ways in which people can react to them.  

"Everyone in the world knows that when the beautiful strives to be beautiful, it is repulsive. Everyone knows that when the good strives to be good, it is no good" (The Daodejing 2)
"'O Enkidu, why curse Shamhat the harlot, who fed you bread that was fit for a god, and poured you ale that was fit for a king, who clothed you in a splendid garment, and gave you as companion the handsome Gilgamesh?" (Gilgamesh 58) ***As the Dao states, when the good try to be good, it is no good. Enkidu tried to be a great god-like man by killing others, etc, and it came back to haunt him all the way to his death***
This clip (0:59-1:34) from Zack Snyder's Man of Steel directly relates to the overly optimistic philosophy Dr. Pangloss has in Voltaire's Candide. He teaches Candide that "'things cannot be other than as they are: for, since everything is made to serve an end, everything is necessarily for the best of ends'" (Voltaire 4). ***His own optimism blinds him from the reality of the situation at hand.***
"People look upon death lightly because those above are obsessed with their own lives; This is why the people look upon death lightly" (Daodejing 78). ***In the biblical story of Cain and Abel, Cain kills his own brother, Abel out of jealousy. He was so wrapped up in his own life and how he could progress that he cared nothing about the life of his own brother and murdered him. He was willing to go very far to achieve "progress." Many selfish characters that we have read about have done similar things***
"When the people do not fear what warrants awe, Something truly awful will come to them" (Daodejing 75). ***Foreshadowing***
This clip from Avatar: The Last Airbender (BEST SHOW EVER) (8:39-10:51), shows a battle between the avatar, Aang and Firelord, Ozid. The Firelord does not value the life of anyone else but his own, similar to General Zod and Cain. The two fight in an extensive battle, and after all of the destruction the Firelord has caused, Aang defeats him and Ozid is left weak and powerless. ***This can connect directly to the other villains who strive to bring others down in the name of their own progression no matter how cruel it may be. I chose this picture because it shows a dismembered body, which reminds me of all the people in our readings who have done horrible things and in some way it has broken them down and weakened them.***
"It's not where you're from, not where you're at, it's where you're going, and I am going home" (0:55-1:00. ***This song called 'Runaways' by rapper Sage Francis, depicts a life of an orphan who feels out of place and alone, and he states this line at the end of his first verse; which I feel goes along well with not only war victims, but victims of all types suffering. As the world tries to advance and progress, there will always be those who are left behind on the journey and they are the ones who suffer. The irony of this line is that an orphan has no home, and in a way, neither does a victim of suffering. They are left out in the cold, dark struggling to fend for themselves. Many soldiers, such as Bartle, can relate to this feeling as well.***
"Who believes today that war can be abolished? No one, not even pacifists" (Sontag 5). ***People will always want progress***
"We only pay attention to rare things, and death was not rare"...just another "uniform in a sea of numbers, a number in a sea of dust" (Powers 11-12) ***All of the soldiers in this picture are blind-folded. I think this is supposed to symbolize the effect war has on its soldiers and how normal it becomes for them to see dead bodies that its as if the deceased soldiers are not even there. I think the quote from Yellow Birds fits right in with the image and the theme of war and progress***
..."war is generic, and the images she describes are of anonymous generic victims" (Sontag 9) ***We don't know these soldiers, but we can most definitely assume that they are the victims of some horrific event***
"This contention holds that what we call our civilization is largely responsible for our misery, and that we should be much happier if we gave it up and returned to primitive conditions" (Freud 58) ***Civilization is progress. The more people who were taken from their homes and civilized, were "progressing" their lives even further in life according to the Europeans. ***
(25:00-26:30) This video clip from Prince of Egypt ties in greatly with the theme. ..."all the things with which we seek to protect ourselves against the threats that emanate from the sources of suffering are part of that very civilization" (Freud 58) ***The idea of progress in civilization clouded the suffering and death that came along with it. This image does a great job of depicting a man suffering.***
Which path will you choose? "People model themselves on the Earth. The Earth models itself on Heaven. Heaven models itself on the Way. The Way models itself on what is natural" (Daodejing 25)
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