“I strode up to the stake and examined the dead man, impaled and naked, stripped of dignity. The stake had entered his anus and protruded through his gaping mouth, his face a death mask, frozen in a look of horror. It filled me with a warmth even the best wine cannot bring…”
– Vlad III(1428-1477) – ruler of Wallachia (present day Romania)
“The Deluge” – A depiction of all those who didn’t have a reservation on Noah’s Ark
-Gustave Doré (1866)
According to the Book of Genesis, God awoke one day and said he’d had enough. Humankind’s misdeeds had grown outa control and something drastic had to be done.
So God decided to return the Earth to it’s pre-Creation watery chaos by flooding it. No one knows why God chose Noah but I have my own theory about it. God must have asked a passing cherub, “Hey, Shorty, so who is the go-to guy down there who can help reset the world, do you know?”
Now, I am surmising what the cherub said but he was in a hurry. He had an appointment at the mechanic’s. The ball joints in his wings were not articulating well. Impatiently he replied,”No”.
“That’s right, Noah!!” God cried. Trust me, that’s real history, oh yeah. I doubt if Noah ever realized how lucky he was, with a name like that. If it had been say, Dick, he’d be toast.
God waited till Noah had finished building his ark and had loaded a pair of every living being for resettlement in a future virtuous utopia and boomed, “Watch this, Noahkins!” and he flooded the earth, killing every living being. Even an earthworm, who had never possessed the capacity to discern between right and wrong and therefore could not have committed any misdeed, drowned.
That’s right, all animals that weren’t on the ark that day, drowned or had their heads smashed against the rocks by the waves and then drowned. FOR NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.
Three thousand years after the ‘reset’, look at the world today. Where is that virtuous utopia? What was the deluge, but a deliberate and senseless mass-extinction style multicide, a callous act of extreme cruelty?
But hang on. There are among us 4.2 billion suckers – the Abrahamics (Christians, Jews and Muslims) – who believe that it was a good thing God did what he did. Me, I think God had ample opportunity to do things more humanely with love, but instead, he chose annihilation. To this day God has gotten away with it and as long as we have right wing evangelical kooks, mullahs and gurus, it’ll stay that way.
Pray to this God? I wouldn’t, even if you held a fucking gun to my head. I think God is a psychopath. I think God is Republican.
At the time of the deluge, Noah is said to have been 500 years old. God must have prescribed Noah some special kinda viagra, because no sooner had the flood waters receded, Noah and his wife must have begun fucking each other’s brains out. They had to repopulate the world with virtuous humans, remember? “Dear, come back to bed. God said fuck. Hurry.” (In Aramaic of course).
Alas, the post-deluge world turned out to be even more blood thirsty. The Book of Samuel details what God commanded King Saul of Israel to do to the Amalekites, a nomadic tribe that had settled in the Negev desert, who minded their own business and had their own religious beliefs. When the Amalekites spotted hordes of Israelis crossing the desert (which they considered their territory) to reach the promised land, they understood it to be an invasion and attacked.
The Amalekites hadn’t known that the Israelis were God’s favorites – his “chosen people”, on their way to “the promised land”. Long story short, God was pissed that his chosen people had been attacked by a bunch of heathens who didn’t even pray to him. According to the Book of Samuel, he roared at Saul, “Destroy all that they have. Do not spare them. Kill both, man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
Saul did carry out God’s command but only partially. He killed all the humans and only the sickly animals. He believed that killing perfectly healthy animals that could help with farming and provide much needed nourishment, was itself a sin and he decided to rear them instead. To beg God’s pardon and satiate his blood thirst, Saul offered God a sacrifice or two.
But Saul didn’t know the extent of God’s blood thirst. When God said kill everything, he meant kill everything. Saul’s sacrifices didn’t work. God was apoplectic.
There are many theories on how Saul died (like him committing suicide by falling on his sword, etc) but let me choose the one that is the sexiest…..
On hearing that Saul had disobeyed him, God ordered the then reigning prophet, Samuel, to expel him. Cast out in the wilderness, he was never heard from again. Thus the founder of the State of Israel and it’s first monarch, King Saul, passed into history, a friendless and ragged man.
All three holy books of the Abrahamic faiths, the Holy Bible, the Holy Quran and the Holy Tora record in gory detail all the times that God has encouraged, exhorted, commanded and rewarded actions of extreme violence.
The Hindu scriptures are not far behind in violence either. Remember the purple God, Krishna, with the deceptively beatific smile and the circular saw with jagged teeth that he balances on his index finger. It flies off on its own and slices off the heads of his enemies and whirls back to his finger. (The fact that the saw hasn’t sliced off Krishna’s finger by accident might indicate it has some sort of advanced docking radar.)
That PTSD took five millennia to be recognized as a problem, is astonishing. Since the Gods are the ones responsible for most of it.
Participating in gut-wrenching brutality on a day-to-day basis had been commonplace (maybe even the norm), from the first settlement at Jericho right up to the Renaissance. Victorious invaders were expected to rape, enslave, pillage and burn. Absolute ruthlessness was the only way for monarchs to maintain order. Good governance was another word for ruling by terror. Physical and mental trauma must have been part and parcel of daily life.
The great Mongol chieftain, Genghiz Khan, at the gates of the besieged Jin Dynasty city of Xi Xia in 1209, had this to say to his troops….“Nothing should make you happier than to chop off the head of your enemy, burn his temples, snatch away his gold and enjoy his wives and his daughters and savor his despair.”
Genghiz Khan didn’t pause to consider if winning the hearts and minds of the conquered people instead wouldn’t have been a better idea. It might not have even occurred to him.
But then maybe, the common folk in conquered lands in those times hadn’t really known what being governed by a benevolent ruler was. They might have taken Genghiz Khan to be weak if he had shown them any mercy or empathy. Those were brutal times, when mothers had to give up their 6-year old sons to be trained as warriors.
Genghiz Khan’s armies, during the seige of Xi Xia (1209)
The Khan practiced what he preached. He was not being unduly cruel as per the perceptions of the time. He was just following the norm through the ages. Annihilation – Genghiz Khan style was by then already a well-established war-craft for 4000 years.
Take Babylon 680BC, when the city fell to the mighty Assyrian King Sennacherib. You wouldn’t want to be there. Sennacherib’s account of the plunder went thus….
“…I leveled the city and its houses from the foundations to the top, I destroyed them, and I consumed them with fire. I tore down and removed the outer and inner walls, the temples and ziggurats built of brick, and dumped the rubble in the Arahtu canal. And after I destroyed Babylon, smashed its gods and massacred its population, I tore up its soil and threw it into the Euphrates so that it was carried by the river down to the sea…”
(Sennacherib’s was a more labor-intensive method of destruction than the ‘Little Boy’ or the ‘Fat Man’, but the effect on the psych of those at the receiving end must have been about the same.)
So much mayhem but do the history books mention any PTSD among the hoi polloi of either Babylon or Xi Xia? Heck, for millennia empires and city-states were constantly rising and falling, plundered by rampaging marauders from the surrounding grasslands. Being treated brutally, having dear ones raped and ravaged right in front of their eyes, seeing blood and gore, these were almost a weekly occurrence in most ‘civilized’ regions of the ancient world.
I’d imagine that in ancient times, around 95% of the world population must have lived constantly under the threat of serious physical and mental trauma. And yet, we have not turned out severely flawed, have we? In fact, the world on the whole appears to have shaped up quite well over the centuries and we – the descendants of aggressors and victims alike, seem to have not only shaken off the trauma but progressed by leaps and bounds. Today, we go about our lives in a state of peace and prosperity, governed by laws – an existence that Sennacherib or Genghiz Khan could never have imagined possible.
ps : Hang in there. I’m not done. There’s a Part-3 in the making. Gosh, my genius knows no bounds!