Wednesday 10 November 1999


Pic of the day: Pondering the Apocalypse.


Today was the first really cold day. Not only was the ground covered with frost in the morning, but even just after sunset the air was so chilly in town I better keep my cap on. That's quite unusual. Then again, it's soon the middle of November and I live in Norway. It should be natural. I guess we are just spoiled with mild weather recently.

In the morning, the low sun made it hard to read on the bus, so I slept instead. I woke up in time to get off the bus in town, as usual. I very rarely oversleep my destination, for some reason. I woke up thinking about Apocalypse.


I may have mentioned that I often write a first draft for my diary, then later either edit it or start from scratch. This time I start from scratch, because the entire first draft was reflections on various forms of apocalypse, from the Book of Revelations to chicken flu and asteroid collisions. I think that might be a bit much. So instead I'll make only the point that was my real point, the apocalyptic mindset.

I recently read in the Norwegian site "Stopp pressen" (yes, it means "stop the press") that 40% of Americans expect the world to end in an apocalyptic battle between Jesus and Satan. I guess that might be a bit imprecise, but still, the apocalyptic mindset is alive and well. And there is one funny thing about it. The people who have an apocalyptic mindset not only believe in a great battle between good and evil. They also believe that people are, generally, either good or evil. They also believe that they happen to be the good guys.

Now, let me tell you a secret. All wars from the dawn of history until today have been between good guys. Or so they thought.

A friend of mine had a revelation that truly stunned me in its beauty and simplicity. He said: In a court of justice meet two who both believe their cause is just. The longer I have lived, the clearer I see how right that was. Even criminals firmly believe that they have a right to redistribute wealth privately or to punish their enemies. You visit a prison, you'll find it filled to bursting with martyrs.

It is no different in a war. The recent war in Yugoslavia was special in that both sides had Internet access all of the time. Yugoslavia may not be up to the western standard of living, or of technology, but it's no stone age society in any way. If you had wanted to, you could get both sides of the story. I do not know if you did. I did. I was not surprised to find that both sides were wearing the white hats of the good guys.


People accuse me of being so open-minded that my brain is spilling out. If anybody is, it might as well be me. I will read a communist newspaper now and again, though I'm probably closer to a conservative politically. I am a christian, yet I am known to occasionally read the Koran (Quoran), Bhagavad-Gita, Dhammapada or ancient mythologies. I can understand (though not necessarily agree with) both saints and sinners, both the martyr and the murderer. I have felt like them both at times. I am proud of my humility, and arrogant over my meekness.

So am I saying that there is no right and wrong, or that Hitler was as good as Churchill? No. We do have to choose, and I do have values that I hold dear. But what I say is that Hitler probably felt as least as "right" as Churchill did. And that a fervent belief that you are on the right side is no guarantee, no guarantee at all. Every human should now and then take his life up for revision. OK, that last sentence wasn't mine. It is almost word for word a quote from Johan Oscar Smith, founder of the ultra-pious congregation mostly known as Smith's Friends... I hope there is no irony of fate in this, but I'll leave that to each of them to find out.

Whosoever heareth these my words and believeth them, and doeth not think for himself, woe betide him.

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