By William A. Cook
‘The hypocrite’s outward appearance shines brightly and passes for holiness, but under that show lies the terrible weight of his deceit which the soul must bear through all eternity.’ — From John Ciardi’s notes, Canto XXIII, ‘The Inferno’ by Dante.
‘Nervana is desire of greed forever ended, anger forever ended, ignorance forever ended, and afflictions forever ended.’ — The Connected Discourses of the Budda.
The Gospels’ narrative of the betrayal of Jesus encompasses a moral lesson dutifully taught and dutifully ignored. It is eloquent in its simplicity. Jesus as Son of the Father brings truth to all who inhabit this earth, lessons learned through parables and sermons, most especially the Sermon on the Mount and that of the Last Judgment; disciples forgo all to follow Him, to learn the truths he bears; most importantly they learn that Love binds all even to the lowest of humankind.
Matthew recounts this in Chapter 25, 31-46, “The Last Judgment”: “But when the Son of Man shall come … and before Him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate them one from another, sheep on his right, goats on his left. …” and hence to judgment. To what does the last judgment allude? To the words of the king, Father of all human kind: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in, naked and you covered me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…’ Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me.’” That is a message of unequivocal Love for which the earth was prepared from the foundation of time—for all that all might live in truth.
But there are those, the goats of the world who desire and do what is the fate of goats, devour all heedless of any and all who threaten their consumption. It is their fate to wander the fields and valleys of the earth consuming everything in sight oblivious to their neighbors, their children, the old, the sick, and the dying, oblivious indeed to the very earth that feeds them. This is the image of Judas, a man ostensibly devoted to human charity as a disciple of the Man of Truth, trusted indeed with the purse strings of those who followed Jesus, who, realizing that this man of truth was a perceived enemy of those in power and destined for death, betrayed his own for 30 pieces of silver. His Nervana was personal, enriching his own wallet, not the Nervana of Budda that finds it a state that all must share or it can never be, a lesson as true as that of Jesus.
The Beatitudes express the ideal that must be true should the justice Jesus sought for each and every person succeed. He knew, however, that the Judases of the world exist, that those capable by temperament and flawed by vices that control their ambition—unending greed, merciless power, ruthless force, calculating deceit—will triumph and the truth of his teachings will be understood only by those who stand against them. Internalizing these truths is the nirvana we can achieve
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth;
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted;
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied;
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God;
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and, speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for my sake, rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven…”
Internalizing these behaviors gives meaning to living, letting those who walk with this awareness move in contentment that they act with compassion, love, and justice to all, a meaning of far more significance than the hoarding of life’s goods, or as George Carlin would say, “stuff.”
We all witnessed the Judas Kiss these past two weeks. Two men were handpicked to lead this nation for the next four years, one who seemed to embody the teachings of Jesus four years ago, exulting in the belief that those shackled in the chains of injustice by the greed, power, military force and deceit of the Bush administration could be relieved with a President that could act with truth and courage. Indeed so probable was that scenario that he was crowned so in his first year with the Nobel Peace Prize: “Blessed are the peacemakers….” This week he accepted the nomination of his party to advance with even more merciless power the jailing of the truth tellers as he exonerated those who tortured their fellow men, ignores those who seek justice while crowning those who advanced the merciless might of the Israeli state, and deceitfully demand that Iran capitulate to the west’s righteous indignation that they alone have the right to nuclear weapons. His opponent does not pretend to be a peacemaker; he exults in power, in control, in dismembering even the lifelines this nation has provided for its poor, its crippled, its meek of heart. These are the people that he and his party reproach as lazy, as parasites that bleed from the public trough, as incompetents wandering the earth.
These past two weeks the American people witnessed the ineluctable crime they will inherit and be held guilty of, the calculated breaking of International Law by both political parties as they deliver the ancient city of Jerusalem to the Zionists. This is a betrayal of incalculable significance and symbolism since they have in effect commanded their respective candidate to eradicate the stated will of the overwhelming majority of 193 nations that have declared Jerusalem an International City to be held in trust for Muslims, Jews and Christians living in peace in the city sacred to all three faiths (see UNGA Resolution 181, November 1947). For more than 63 years now, that expressed action, central to the Partition Plan Resolution that made possible the existence of a “Home” for the Jewish people, has been renewed annually. Yet, as the last proclamation of the Republican Party platform intones, the people of the United States shall continue to bind themselves in an “unequivocal” bond to the state of Israel and to the security of its “acquired land” regardless of how it has been acquired, a protection of theft executed in total disregard for International Law. This week, the Democratic National Convention, despite the generally recognized displeasure of the delegates present, forced their candidate to accept the illegal act demanded of them in a blatant act of betrayal to them and the American people.
Metaphorically, link this action to the biblical narrative as goodness, truth, and peace garbed in the image of the Son of Man, he who embodies the reality of “every person,” stands before the images of earthly power and suffers the wrath of their imposed beliefs. This innocent man, betrayed by one he loved and trusted, falls prey to the degraded drives that compel him to follow instincts of self-satisfaction and survival, regardless of its consequences to his own friends and those who wished to follow their Lord. He is charged, tortured and crucified because he threatens the state proclaiming it must provide for the people. He becomes the sacrificial lamb that suffers the merciless military might of the Roman forces that are complicit in this atrocity. Today, it’s the people of Palestine who suffer the egregious occupation bereft of homes and land, basic rights of humans, maligned as savages, castigated as evil fanatics, charged with terrorism while the terror walks openly with machine guns and sniper rifles. For sixty three years they have endured while we in America remain silent and let our representatives and presidential candidates grovel for money before the changers in the temple courtyards. The metaphor holds.
Compare this theft of Jerusalem to the actions that drove Judas; men seeing that their future, attaining the Presidency and fulfilling their political desires, demands that they, like Judas of old, crawl before the Sanhedrin and beg for money and forgiveness should it be perceived that they do not accept their power. Each of our brave candidates crawled down the blood red carpet to AIPAC’s golden podium to declare their allegiance and fidelity to the Zionist State, outdoing each other in obsequies and obedience. Each has promised to visit Israel as the first act of their presidency, each has determined to continue the obligations of their predecessors to provide untold billions to this state of six million people despite the magnitude of America’s debt, despite the desperate condition of many states in the United States that have had to lay off their own employees, cut services to the public, deny children the education they deserve while unemployment in Israel is negligible in this most wealthy nation. They do not see the suffering that Judas witnessed in the via dolorosa as Jesus limped down the cobblestones dripping blood and sweat, so weak he fell beneath his cross jarring the crown of thorns to bleed even more while his Mother and disciples stood aghast, humiliated and distressed as this Man of God stumbled to his hanging.
But the blood is still there, it is the blood of the native peoples who lived for centuries upon centuries in Palestine, who worked the shops on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and live there now, who stood aghast as Jews, when he was tortured and mangled beneath the ruthless power of their magistrates, stood silently as he passed unable to confront the men in power who cried his guilt, though he had none, who wrested back their perceived loss of power, threatened by a man of peace who carried only a message of Love and compassion, who taught the brotherhood of mankind, who would have all share the wealth of this world, not hoard it in the pockets of 1% and lie to the people how they have the way to wealth and meaning in the hateful philosophy of Ayn Rand, spelled Ryan.
What then did our nominees trade for the money that will propel them to power? They traded my beliefs in equity for all that originates in the Declaration of Independence of the American people and the expression of their rights, a document all who love this country accept as truth; they not only ignore, they defy the will of the community of nations that the Palestinian people have rights under the charters of the United Nations to reenter their lands and have the occupiers retreat to the original borders drawn in the Partition Plan, since the Zionists had invaded and terrorized both the Natives and their protectors, the British Mandate Authority, illegal actions contrary to the accepted policies of the UN; they have denounced and ridiculed and mocked the rights of the Palestinian people in the same manner as the Sanhedrin did to the followers of Jesus displaying an arrogance and demeanor befitting a savage not a civilized people; and finally, they have destroyed the world’s belief in the American system of Justice, of democratic participation of its citizens, of its charity to all peoples by imposing a monolithic dependence on a foreign state which has insidiously intruded its authority over our Congress and, as this betrayal demonstrates, on those who run for the highest office in the land.
If Dante is right, retribution will happen in God’s good time when the treachery of their actions befalls them. They will suffer their recompense in the last two circles of Hell, and they are the most graphic in representing the Eternal retributions due our leaders.
“Hypocrites tread the forlorn track of the bolgia that is their home for all eternity in circle eight. Robed in leaden monk’s habits, glowing in gilded splendor, the outward show of holiness, they carry the terrible weight of deceit beneath these garments, "so heavy that we, their weary fulcrums, creak and groan." Here is an appropriate circle for our band of hypocrites: politicians, military fawners and churchmen. But they are more than hypocrites; they are thieves as well having stolen the citizens’ wealth for decades to come. Fortunately, thieves, too, reside in circle eight wrapped in pits of monstrous reptiles that twist and curl about their loins. What an apt retribution since they borrowed Nietzsche’s corrosive philosophy, used ironically by the Nazis against the Jews, to gain power by blindly following Strauss’ negation of morality: use religion, ¬ Zionism, and Christianity ¬ to manipulate millions by invoking fear on one side and prophecy on the other, with¬ instinct and superstition ¬ as motivating drives to empire. Perhaps Dante would allow them to experience the retribution of both sins since, as followers of Strauss, they are bound by no morals whatsoever, only power.”
– William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book is Decade of Deceit, 2002-2012: Reflections on Palestine, published in June by Lambert Academic Publishing of Germany. His other works include Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape of Palestine, and The Plight of the Palestinians all dealing with the crisis in Israel/Palestine. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or through his web site: www.drwilliamacook.com.