Channel: Hamza Yusuf
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I think it's a misnomer. And Dorothy Sayers calls this out that it's a misnomer to call them the deadly sins because they're not. They're not really sad since Yeah, they're states of their states of being that. Well, Evagrius never call them sins, right? He called them thoughts. That's right. And but the thing is once one of these, and and of course, he called them demonic. So once one of these demonic forces takes you over, then you cannot do anything but engage in sinful behavior. And I think the reason origin and Evagrius are so important is that it's not the Hebraic notion of sin as law. But it's more that notion of sin as separation from the self separation with God, and
separation from the community. And that's what these forces do, whether it's gluttony or envy, and just so you know, I mean, I remember when we studied at NV in the classical sense, we would probably know this is not just about coveting, it is about it was about desire for the destruction of the other who had the up, right. In the Islamic tradition, they actually there's two Arabic words. So one of them is has said, which is envy, where you want the destruction of the goods of the other, or, or you want them to lose what they have, at least if if you envy their wife, you want them to the to have a divorce. Right? Right. And
but the other word is a hip hop, which it means joyful admiration. And so it's, it's, it's a positive envy, like you actually do envy them you wish you had what they had, but you would not want them to lose it. It's it's a nice distinction and the prophets Allah it said, he said, only two people should be envied. And he met this joyful admiration where you you wish you had what they had, but, and that was a man who was given wisdom, and taught others that wisdom by day and night, and the other is a man who has given great wealth and used it to, to for the common good and and for helping the needy. And so he said, those two people were worth having envy, this positive envy
towards all these people write about anger, also break it down, but what they all they're all rooted in Aristotle, you have a burst, a momentary moment of anger, then you have resentment. And then you have wrath, which is the desire for vengeance, but but Aquinas and all those people are writing out of Aristotle. So I mean, so as the Muslim tradition, you know, I think Aristotle had such an incredible impact on all of the Abrahamic traditions, and they used him in different ways. And then obviously,
the there there's a Plotinus was actually translated into Arabic as the theology of Aristotle. So Neo Platonism came in the back door that way and and but you have, you know it with anger, you have this understanding that
of the cute poseable and the irascible soul from Aristotle, which is adopted by both the Christian and I think all three, but but they understood that the irascible soul was a positive force if it was guided by the rational soul. So they, they, you know, he mama Hassan, he says, You don't want to eliminate anger, you want to make it like a hunting dog, where you release it at the proper time, to the proper object, and for and for the right reasons. So So I think that's at the heart of,
of the spiritual practice of trying to tame that that irascible soul which was placed in us to to ward off evil and harm. Well, that's the distinction between righteous anger, which which Aquinas, Gregory, you know, all of them, except as part of a life of faith. Well, let me ask you something.
Why, why? Because I think you know, you and I probably I'm making this assumption, but just from because I've read a lot of your stuff. And I think we both have a choleric temperaments.
And, and probably I'm sure you have, like I have worked over time to, to really exercise that temperament. The negative aspects
So that out, but it seems to me that we're living in a very choleric time. Like, why are people so angry?
Well, because they're, they're so constricted. I mean, their life is stagnant. They don't see any hope for the future. They're under economic duress.
You know that that's, you know, that I know, when I, when my first book was the force that gives us meaning after covering the war in El Salvador for five years, I end up in an airport in Costa Rica with my dog. And the guy behind the counter says, well, we don't have any crates, we can't put your dog on the plane.
And your dog will have to sit in a crate in the airport for a week. And I flipped, I leapt over the counter, I remember reading that story. It had nothing to do with my dog. It had to do with the accumulated rage and trauma that I spent five years undergoing. I mean, I had a I used to have a nervous twitch, my eyes would go like this, you know, all the time. So that's it, that people, you see it in prisons. I mean, irony I teach in prisons, and one of the ironies is that prisons are actually as institutions, incredibly polite. If you bump you never touch anyone in a prison. But if you were to bump into somebody in the hall, you're profusely apologetic. And if you're not, it's a
Because your everything is so bottled up and contained. And that's one and number two, is that people who become consumed by wrath, and this is a meal Durkheim. They, they seek the annihilation of others. But as Durkheim points out, it is driven by desires for self annihilation. So that's that great quote, by Evagrius of Pontus, where he says, the demons armed themselves with evil actions, once armed, they treat harshly, those who armed them,
that you become by any of these seven deadly sins, Seven Deadly thoughts, it is about having the demonic seize control.
And then you know that it controls you, you don't control it. And of course, the danger of wrath and vengeance is that the object you internalize that if it's a person, let's say that object or that figure, essentially takes over becomes part of your own identity. And I think that that notion of the demonic, you know, because demons, at least in in biblical literature is often seen as, as, you know, actual physical entities, loses the wisdom of the fact that the demonic is real, that people can be seized by avarice by, by envy by gluttony, by wrath.
And I loved actually, you know, because with Evagrius, Pontus, he had eight thoughts. And then they was later all reconfigured by Gregory, but they erased
sadness, melancholia. Yeah, but that's but but for Evagrius, that was self pity.
And that, you know, self pity, pride lead to wrath? Well, you know, I mean, I would say, you know, in homeopathy, you have what they call a cause occasion analysis, you know, the triggering event. So, like, if you get dust, somebody has an asthmatic attack, but it's not the dust really, it's, it's, it's the susceptibility, because there's an underlying weakness in the immune system. And it seems to me that
I think there's a lot more going on, like, I appreciate the the analysis, and I think there's a lot of truth to that, but I still think there cause occasio analysis for, for the anger of modern society. I think there's deeper, I think, you know, in some ways, people have more today, even poor people than I mean, I lived in West Africa, and you've been to some of the poorest countries in the world. And, you know, in where I lived in West Africa, they had over 50% unemployment. And yet, I was just amazed at how joyful the people were generally.
This was in Mauritania, and I think people are, they're angry because they've been deprived of so much. There has to be some sense of entitlement. To get angry. You're getting angry because you feel like I've been
deprived of something like somebody cuts the line, they're taking time, that should be yours, and they're forcing you to wait longer. And so some people will just say, you know, what a jerk or, and just let it go. But other people will will really go into a state of, of, of anger. And sometimes it'll lead to even death. Yeah, I would say you're right, I accept I would, I would go back to Durkheim when he talks about Anomie and social bonds, that there are many social bonds that integrate us into the society, work being highly important. And John Paul, the second, not to poll by loved particularly, but he did write a very fine and cyclical on work. And he understood the UK
actually said that in order to sustain the family, one needs meaningful work with a living wage, he actually talks about the loss of, of work as one of the contributors to the breakdown of the family. And I think this is true. So there are many, many social bonds, I mean, I would agree with you.
But there but when all of these social bonds become ruptured, when when you have no place within the society to actualize yourself, in any way,
then it creates this very self destructive Anomie. And of course, Durkheim, in his book on suicide, ask the question, what is it that drives individuals and societies to carry out acts of self annihilation? And he said it it is wrath in essence, because all of these, you know, you know, those who seek the annihilation of others are driven by these desires for self destruction. So
yes, I think that, that, I mean, modernity is part of the problem because it's, it's a sexually, it holds up all of the values that if you want to take the seven deadly sins, were warned against, I mean, what is everything in a corporate capitalist culture? I mean, you see it on reality television shows, what values do we celebrate as a culture? Well, it's every value that all of the great metaphysical writers have warned us lead to self destruction. So it's about the cult of the self, it's about gaining wealth, it's about gaining power. It's about the hedonism of the narcissism of you know, being eternally young.
And that is just on on every level and when you fail, and most people fail now given the you know, the seizing up or the ossification of, of our democracy, and this massive social inequality, it's always your fault. So it this is you know, positive psychology it's if something's wrong with you, nothing's wrong with the system. So that self loathing
is just exponentially increased and I think you see it expressed in mass shootings, the Niall ism of people who just go in and kill everyone around them irrationally. And and, and I think it comes from these feelings that, you know, the society at large is just cast you aside is human refuse. Well, again, I mean, I, I agree, and I think that's all true. And I wouldn't disagree by and large, but I still feel
that there's something deeper going on I just, I feel like the loss of God in people's lives the loss of even just religious practice. If you look at
you know, look at give me the stories that you tell and I'll and I'll give you your culture, I mean, look at the type films that the the music that people listen to talk about demonic thoughts.
And, and just people are being filled with this on a day in day out basis. How like, violent porn. It's just you wrote a whole chapter, that chapter I wish I never read, I thought you should have, you should have had a trigger warning before that chapter because that chapter haunts me to this day. And and I just, that's the type of stuff that these kids are, are absorbing in a culture and I just don't see how you could have anything but filth, come out of some people and we live in a culture that thrives off the deadly sins, we sell everything with the deadly sins, and and in the past, cultures actually recognize human weakness and tried to help people overcome their natural
inclination towards that sinfulness. And I just I don't see it.
It's not we have
So many films about angry people that go out and just, you know, man of wrath, I think is the latest one.
Or, Oh, we celebrate, we celebrate them. That's what I mean. I mean, there's a real celebration. And so I just feel like, you know, the theology of today is demonology. It's not, it's not, it's not the study of God, it's really the study of, of demons. And that's what people absorb. And I just don't see how young people especially
how they're taught, you know, the whole, like, stepping on toes is a good example. You know, I didn't know about stepping on toes, although I should have, you know, Elvis had that song, don't step on my blue suede shoes, right. And, but I did not know, and I was in Atlanta. And I was coming, and I was with you mom's age Shachar. And, and I was coming out of
the baggage claim. And I felt a little bump, you know, because I had one of those drag bags, I felt a little bump, but I didn't turn around, I just thought I hit something on the floor. And I almost got killed by this guy, who thought that I did it on purpose. I mean, it was pretty intense experience. But I think that state, there's so many people that are in that state, of where their sense of dignity is, is so low as a human being. And I and I feel that at the root of that is not knowing
that they are a creation, you know, that that that has this divine spark of life, and that no matter what I mean, if you look, you know, at anger, anger, Ecclesiastes says that anger is, is it, you know, be do not have the spirit of anger for it resides in the breasts of fools. And I think, you know, that's a powerful truth that what is a full but somebody who doesn't know who they are, or where they're going. I yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I look at, you know, where we are as the culture of death.
You know, in theological terms, as you know, wading into these kinds of discussions in a relentlessly secular society, especially if you come out of the left as I do. And you know, religious prejudice is the last acceptable prejudiced in the left, I have to tread very lightly, because, you know, people are uncomfortable now, even in this society, addressing these issues, but I think that Tillich had it right, that there are fundamental realities about human nature and human society that can only be expressed in theological or religious terms. Right.
But no, I totally agree. And that is part of the rise of this kind of culture of sadism.
I mean, really, that's the best way to describe it.
You know, whether it's, I mean, we're a pornified society, which, of course, as you know, I've written about, as you cited,
the celebration of violence, I mean, all these are a lot of these mass shooters spend a lot of time playing these video games like call to duty, I'm ever wrong. I've never played a video game in my life. But you know, these violent video games,
which models that kind of behavior, but but the whole gun culture becomes and violence becomes a way of self empowerment, or a false kind of sense of self empowerment, when all the other avenues seem closed. And of course, we we fetishize weapons in this country for that reason. It's a myth. But you know, they take away every other form of self empowerment, but we still have our arsenite, my family's from Maine. I mean, I have neighbors in Maine, who have like one of them has 23 weapons in his house. It's a false sense of empowerment, but it's, it's why the Second Amendment is so contentious. Because take away that gun and every sense of empowerment is gone. You know, it's
interesting, there's, I've been in societies where they, all the men have weapons, you know, just as a part of, but they rarely use them because they have such a profound sense of the sanctity of life. And again, I think, you know, if you grow up watching, apparently, a 15 year old has seen about 18,000 murders on on television, and the way that they kill people. There's one of the most popular I don't know if it is anymore, but when I read about it, and I like you have never played one of these games, but I did read quite a bit about them during a period, and one of the game's most popular games is was autos
left something auto theft. And they had you got points for running over old ladies with grocery baskets. And they and they have one scene where the guy picks up a prostitute abuses her and then literally beats her to death with with with a with a baseball bat.
And this is like a popular game that kids play. And and they are kids playing these games even though there's supposedly for 18 and older, they'll get them you know, so I really I feel like, you know,
Iceland one of my favorite countries. I don't know if you know a lot about Iceland, but, you know, Iceland, they brought in that notorious anti Semite you know, the chess player and and their view on it was anybody that can play chess that good. We're going to ignore his policy as Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer. Yeah. But but they actually outlawed it's one of the most secular societies in the world, and they outlawed pornography. You know, you can't sell pornography.
Because it they just saw it as a very destructive force. And I think one of the things about this country is that we really fail to look at the social sciences that I'm in, for instance, Pamela Paul, who wrote that book, pornified, and I actually had her at our as you've been there, in Canada, one of the things that she found is that people that watched a lot of pornography, over about a 10 year period ended up in in paedophilic material, like it was a natural progression, or an unnatural progression to because the, the threshold for stimulation gets higher and higher. And a lot of a lot of them have self loathing. Yeah, well, you know, at the end of the chapter, an empire of illusion
on porn, I end it with these people who buy these silicone, silicone dolls, you know, that these, whatever they call them, you know, because for me, porn is about necrophilia. It's about death. It is about the death of the soul of the other woman.
So you're right and, and porn today doesn't bear any resemblance to porn of a few decades ago, I went to kink.com. In the last book, which is a they used to they sold it, but it used to be the old national Armory in San Francisco, in the Mission District. And you would live people live streaming and pay money to have women waterboarded, beaten, tortured, tied up. And this isn't simulated, this is real. I really think we're in the grips of demons. And I think if we don't recognize that we're not we're not able to address it, because it's only a supernatural power that can get us out of this, because I think the supernatural forces that are involved are being denied by secularists,
they just they won't, they won't entertain the reality of these things. I think the other problem is that,
you know, within the society, which is, I think, you know, was always an understanding of early religious leaders, is that to achieve the moral or the religious life takes incredible hard work and self discipline, on a daily basis on a daily basis. Yeah. And, and that's been lost, and that, that you, all of us have these proclivities within us, that's part of human nature.
You know, there's a great saying about pride, the Buddhists say, we all have thoughts like that about ourselves, but it doesn't mean we should invite them to tea. Right. And I think that's lost, that these, these forces that act in a way to destroy us and that are within us, and let's call them the demonic. I think that's a correct term. There there. And if you don't work to guard against them,
then they can, they can consume you. And and this is why all of the great metaphysical writers I mean, this is one of my complaint with both liberal Christianity and the evangelical movement is that these medical, metaphysical questions have largely been abandoned. For you know, the, the trivia. I had a professor who I liked very much, he was talking about, you know, the whole exploration of the Gnostic Gospels. And he said, Well, it's interesting. But so what? And that's right. So what, because they're not the fundamental questions that keep us on track. And I wrote a book actually on the 10 commandments. I read that book. I wanted to call it the Decalogue, you know,
you know, this prime minister and it got before the marketing people at Simon and Schuster, none of them had heard of the Decalogue so I they made me take it off. I relented. Regretfully it's called losing Moses on the freeway but
But those commandments are it's not that we don't violate them. We do. I mean, we're human, but they're kinds of signposts to keep us on the right road. Right. And I think that the great metaphysical writers of all of the great religious traditions were attacked attempting to keep us on the right road. And now, we don't even know how to ask the question. Because even within liberal Christianity, metaphysical questions are, you know, have been largely sidelined or forgotten for this constant obsession over the figure of Jesus, right? Which isn't really important to me at all. I mean, to come out of the church tradition, but it's not important. The whole study of metaphysics
has has been really removed. I mean, I think in the United States, the Dominicans might be the only people that are really doing deep dives still into into the, the, the whole apparatus that one needed to know in order to study metaphysics. Yeah, logic is very important. And, and that alone, material logic, takes a long time I've tried to penetrate John of St. Thomas, you know, it's it's very difficult stuff, and traditionally took a lot of hefty study. I mean, the few metaphysicians that I know that are really, really steeped in it, have spent their life in it. But according to
and I think this actually true according to all of our traditions, metaphysics was the architectonic
knowledge that was needed to navigate everything else, because it goes to first principles. And that's why I feel so much in our, you know, Thoreau said that for everybody, that's, that's
for every one person that's hacking away at the roots of a problem, there are 1000s hacking away at the at the bushes, you know, that going to the root is, is where metaphysics really comes in. And that's where I feel like even anger in our culture, I just don't, first of all, I truly believe that the modern world in in many ways is so unnatural, the way people are living, that it's causing a lot of
one of what is causing a lot of trouble. And one of the I think it was St. John climaxes who he had perturbation Porter baccio was, was his translation. For, you know, what happens in the soul. That, you know, these perturbations, you know, this these disruptions in our trajectory, they're called era that where people are so unsettled in their being. And, and, and the modern world is doing this to a lot of people, the pace of life, getting on the road.
I mean, road rage is a very interesting phenomenon, you know, but but when you when you have these people that are in these states of anger, it's it's quite understandable why these things would happen? Well, you know, I spent almost 20 years in the war.
So I watched
what wrath does, right? And how it begins with the dehumanization of the other, of course, but it rapidly becomes
you dehumanize yourself,
and there is an intoxicating quality about violence.
I've seen it. Sure.
But you don't walk away from that without deep scars. And that life of violence or life of wrath is often unbearable. So you see, that's why suicides are so high among combat veterans in the United States, and those are the suicides we count. There's all sorts of the other suicides through alcoholism or opioid addiction.
And in that sense, you're right that those demonic forces or look at avarice or you know, greed, you know, in the end, what happens, and I and I went to boarding school when I was 10, as a scholarship student with the uber rich, I mean, these weren't just the upper middle. These were the richest people in the country. And
their interior life was so deeply impoverished and sad. And they end their lives. Now as I get older. I watched my classmates who never had to work a day in their life. I mean, Marx got it right. They lived lives as parasites
But they surround themselves with people who, who tell them what to flatter them and tell them what but secretly despise them internally can't stand them. They're utterly friendless. And I think that you know why that's why I like your idea of doing the seven deadly sins, or I think the seven thoughts are probably better evil thoughts, I think, agree is called them. But it's right, because they, they will consume you until there's nothing left and the only bulwark against it is to actively recognize our own capacity for self destruction, or even evil. This is why I think both of us like primo levy so much, and then fight against it. It's that knowledge of our own capacity for
evil. And then the understanding that it's almost a daily battle, to push against us against it, that saves us from being consumed by it. And I'm often criticized for being very dark as a writer coming but coming out of places like Sarajevo or El Salvador, you know, I've I've seen the worst of human atrocity. But I think that it's it is that knowledge that the line between the victim and the victimizer is razor thin. And when you understand that,
then it's, you have a more of an ability to guard against it so that you don't cross it. It's when you're not self reflective when you externalize evil, and you don't understand, you know, the evil that we all carry within us, that you as far as you can, you can succumb it's far easier to succumb to evil itself. You know, I see you as playing an incredibly important role. It's a painful one to have to play but I there's there's an interesting James Thurber, you know, the humorous, he he met with Van Doren Mark Van Doren on his on his farm up in in Vermont, and, and he was telling him how he was going blind. And and he was telling he thought that God was punishing him. And he said, Why
would you think that? Is it because I've spent my life making fun of people. And, and vandoorne said, you know, I would see it absolutely as the opposite. You've done a great social service, by pointing out the foibles of people so that we can laugh at ourselves, which is very important. And Thurber later said that he actually saved his life because he was contemplating suicide.
It's it's one of those the gift of consolation. So I see I see your dark side as the opposite. Like, you know, where Thurber was using humor to point out something really important for all of us to see, I see you're, you know, you're doing something also incredibly important. Because we, I think we forget, you know, our parents live through Nazi Germany. You know, it's hard to believe it wasn't that long ago. I mean, I have my friend, Dr. Eva brand, who, you know, she was told me stories. I mean, she's alive in Annapolis, God give her a long life. But she told me stories of these Nazi youth terrorizing her on the way to school. It just wasn't that long ago. And I think people forget
that. And you've seen that you saw it happen in Sarajevo. I mean, these are much smaller examples of the same phenomenon, where people are dehumanized. And then and then anger is literally it's cultivated in the hearts of people. Like there's a sowing of the seeds of wrath. And and then they're nurtured over time. And then when they burst out, everybody's shocked. But it's that creeping villainy that Kierkegaard talks about, of not seeing it. I think one of the things in Matthew,
it's in the fifth chapter, you know, math, Christ talks about that you've heard it said of all Thou shalt not kill, and if you murder, then you you'll be liable to judgment. But I say, right, is a whole other standard. I say, that if you have anger, with unjust cause towards your brother, you stand condemned, and if you say Raka, which is interesting as the Arabic word as well, you know, like, flimsy or foolish, and then he said, you know, then then you stand in judgment. And so he I again, he I felt like he's getting to the root of the problem because the murder started much earlier with the seeds of calling somebody raka you know, dehumanizing, it's, it's
gets to exactly what you were just saying. It. I think it's a profound psychological insight into where this all comes from. Well, people are conditioned to kill. So you see it, you know, I spent seven years in the Middle East and went into Kuwait in the first Gulf War, the first battalion first Marines, but the way that they referred to the people who lived in countries like Iraq, were invariably derogatory, racial slur or ethnic slurs. And, and I think that one of the problems in you see it in Gaza as well, anytime you you have a foreign occupation of another people. This is true in Iraq, true and Afghanistan. Your enemy Robert Jay Lifton writes about this in terms of Vietnam. But
you anytime you leave the perimeter, which is this tiny base of security, and even then that can be mortared.
Everyone is the enemy, and your enemy is elusive and asymmetrical warfare. So it's an IED. It's an ambush, and they melt away, and you start losing members of your own unit. But there's almost no enemy to strike back against. And so you have this atrocity producing situation liftin calls it where everybody becomes a legitimate target.
And, and I think that the other thing I found about war is that and I like anyone who spent a lot of time and where I struggle with PTSD, but I also know a lot of veterans. And I think the worst
is not just the PTSD, it's something I don't have, thankfully, but it is this moral injury. It's what they did. When you really probe deeply. It's about the children they killed.
You know, it's because these weapons are not discriminate. Once you start firing a belt fed saw, I don't know what the rounds are per minute 600 or something. Now there are a lot, there's no discrimination at all.
And I'm not sure you ever recover from that, or certainly very hard to recover you can with with a deep spiritual well that you can draw from and just to give an example, I literally read yesterday. Have you ever had Meghan's essay on Heraclius? No, on Hercules. Yeah, on Europe at his play, he actually quotes you in it. It's a great I used to have the in my freshman seminar, I'd have them read that play, which is really about PTSD. I mean, that's his argument, because he comes back from the war and, and kills his whole family in this kind of, and wakes up to find this horror. But, you know, Megan talks about all the veterans watching this play, you know, and what that must have been
for them. But and you've talked about, you know, the Odyssey, the 10 year journey back after the war to your family, but he quotes you in there talking about, you know, the bond that men have this profound bond in war that that takes place that really
culminates in a kind of love that they have for one another. But then he follows that up by talking about what can happen when the enemy that actually takes place with the enemy. And there's a very interesting, I don't know if you saw the film, the Mauritanian but this young man, he's more attention Mahamadou Salahi, I was just literally on
a zoom call with him and David Wood, who was his guard at Guantanamo, and they've become best friends. And, and it was the, it was the profound spirituality of this Mauritanian that transformed this guard in experiencing, despite the fact that he knew what was happening. And it was horrible. But he just he just saw the humanity but also the deep spirituality of this person. And it really had a massive impact on his heart. And so they became very close. And I think that's, to me, the the optimism, if I can say that, or rather the hope of better word that that we can overcome these things. I think it's possible. I just was talking to this amazing man from Southern California.
he was several years incarcerated for a murder he didn't commit, you know, I mean, in prison, not you know, most people admit while why they're there, you know, they, but there are innocent people that do end up there and, and he was genuinely innocent.
But he had no he took this kind of stoic approach to being in prison and he was able to transform all of these inmates with his attitude and his approach to it because he took a kind of I don't know if you've ever read Bo atheist, but it was a kind of
an approach that somebody like Bo atheist would take and I know somebody also like that. Imam Abu Qadir al Amin was amazing Imam that was on death row in San Quentin. And he was on death row for several years. And he never let it get to him. And it was because of his spiritual well, that he was able to draw from. And I think for me, that's what's been lost in our civilization in our culture. And I think that's at the root of so much anger because anger is you know, the root of that angst is a sorrow. Right. And we know he Mamata Rosati says there's a relationship between anger and sorrow. He says, anger will come out with somebody who has the power to take his retribution. But if they're
powerless, they become sorrowful. So it's the same source, it's really the same emotion. And he was able to transform that into something really positive. And now he actually became a, an adviser to the California penal system.
And the governor he got he got a pardon. But
the the, the warden at San Quentin said in all his years in in the criminal justice system, he'd never seen a human being transformed, like that man soldier needs and writes about this in the Gulag Archipelago. So the two groups that manage to endure, maybe they don't endure, as distinct individuals, but through endure spiritually, are the Chechens and the Christians. Those people who remain rooted in a deep religious tradition, are able to psychologically endure in a way that the political prisoners often cannot. Well, what happened with Mahamadou, the man next door to him that they ended up committing suicide, he couldn't take it. Whereas Mahamadou he, despite that, he went
through torture, he went through waterboarding, and this is over a period of years. I mean, it's pretty horrific. What happened to him but he, you know, he has an amazing spirit and I know where it comes from, because I lived with those people for over 10 years. And and they're, you know, he's, he memorized the whole Quran. So he had access to this spiritual well, that he could drink from, in the worst of conditions. And I just feel if we don't restore that place, of of,
you know, of the Theo Centricity and the importance of it in a culture, however you want to call it, I just, I don't see any way out of this morass that No, that's right, then, then you're extinguished. I remember, I knew I used to work in Gaza. And I wanted to go spend several days in the refugee camp of Hunter Yunus, which, at the time was controlled by Hamas. And I knew the head of Hamas or NTC. And I told him I was going, and so he called ahead and said, you know, leave him alone. He's all right. But I remember going through the refugee camp. Now remember, in Gaza, you you're living 10, to a room, there's no work, there's nothing really there by which you have that
you can actualize yourself within the society, other than your faith. And it was then that I understood the importance of praying five times a day, because everything up in their life had no structure, but that gave them structure. And I couldn't Well, I don't how it is today, but I could walk through that refugee camp, which I did at one or two in the morning, and I was perfectly safe.
And, and so yes, I think that, you know, there is there are deep psychological and spiritual reasons. People in every culture have
formulated religious systems
to essentially give them structure and meaning and, and with the rise of a secular culture, we have allowed the demonic to essentially seize complete and total control. And what's so frightening is that we don't even know it's demonic. I'd totally agree the Palestinians are an amazing example of people that do have a well to draw from both the Christian and the Muslim in those horrific conditions. One of the things and I like as we're coming to a close here, one of the things that for me
The virtue that the countervailing virtue that really is able to constrain anger is forbearance and patience. And, and, and and that goes on to the moral virtue of courage. So it's very interesting that courage is what counters anger, it's not courageous to get angry, it's actually courageous to be able to suppress your anger. And our Prophet peace be upon him said that. It's the grit the wrestler, who can throw a man is not the strong man, the strong man is the one that can suppress his anger. And there are so many verses, one of the most
reiterated virtues in the Quran is patience. And it seems to me that this age is an age that really demands that spiritual practice, the virtue of courage, and from that the daughters of courage, of which include patience and forbearance. And, and, and just the idea of being able to, to bear other people. I mean, God gave us families, for in order for us to teach, teach that fundamental truth that we need to bear other people because we don't choose our families. And very often, I don't think there's any family that's not immune to the uncle or somebody they don't want brought to the dinner table, but they come anyway, because home is the place where if you have to go there, they
have to take you in as frost reminds us. So I feel like if we don't restore the place of virtue ethics, in our culture, I just I don't see any solutions to this problem. Well, we also diminish,
or we don't understand the power of the moral life.
Vasily Grossman, I think, writes about this beautifully in life and faith, that the power of kindness, he calls it simple human kindness. And I saw that in Eastern Europe, we in the revolutions that I cover, where these figures like Vaslav Havel, I was every night in the Magic Lantern theater with Hubble.
He'd been a non person from since charter 77, since 1977, till 1989. And yet his steadfastness to that moral imperative to what he called Living In truth, gave him an authority that brought down the communist regime of Czechoslovakia. And I, you know, I was invincible at Square, it was cold and snowy for all those demonstrations, half a million people, and the great
check singer, Martha Cooper Shava, who had sung a prayer for Marta, which was the anthem of defiance and 68, when the Soviet tanks rolled in and overthrew Duke check. So after the Soviets took control and put in a puppet regime, her she was banned from the airwaves, the recording stock was destroyed. She worked on an assembly line in the toy factory, and I was there when she walked out on that balcony 500,000 checks, she begins to sing a prayer for MARTA. And every check in the crowd knew every word, and most of them had hadn't even born
in the end, and that is the power of Mandela had it on on Robben Island, you know, that forbearance, that patience. And essentially, you know, there were large numbers of guards, apartheid regime guards, who were struck down by that moral force. And this again, I know you admire soldier needs and as I do, this is a constant theme of soldier needs. And I think that
in a secular society, we've done many things wrong. And one of the worst is that we don't understand the power of love. And and that that power is one that can vanquish evil. If we have the courage to practice it, that's what Tobias was teaching what he called Bold love, which is, is really that kind of loving somebody who's really not worthy of your love. And, and one of the interesting things about anger in the table of the Seven Deadly Sins of Hieronymus Bosch, you know, he has, he has the two. One one's got a table on his head, I think, and the other one's brandishing a sword, but it's the woman who's holding him back.
And I think, you know, there's something very profound in that, in that image, that it is love that can overcome that hate cannot overcome hate. And that and that was I think, Dr. King's you know, the power that he has
had of of love and and
Chef Abdullah bin Bay also that's something that he definitely he emanates that and and people can feel it around him because it's something that the spiritual power of it and not a kind of, you know Agave right it's it's that deep spiritual love
that that we need more of and I think that's the only thing that can really diffuse a lot of these things it doesn't always work unfortunately with some people but there are people that are completely disarmed by it. I mean, there are we, you know, our tradition distinguishes between spirit demons and human demons and the Prophet Muhammad said that human demons were much worse, because they have they, they can actually, they have a type of volition and agency in the world that the spiritual demons don't the spiritual demons can only suggest, whereas the human demons actually can impose their will, on the material world. You know, I we could go on and I'm always I always
marvel at what you've done and where you've been and the power that you can bring into a conversation because of that experience. And I've seen you do this many times. It's very disarming, because so many people have have not seen what you've seen or been through what you've been through. And I think the Palestinian, you know, the testimony that you've given to the Palestinian people has just been so powerful over the years, because,
you know, despite the fact of, unfortunately, the leadership is, is in all in all cases, everywhere is wanting deeply. But the people as you know, are just, they're just extraordinary people and just have a beautiful culture. We were people of hope. And,
you know, it's, it's, it's one of the great theological virtues that our faiths share. A lot of people don't know that you are a minister. I hide it on so I know. You know, unfortunately.
I'm my experience because I went to Catholic schools. I was like you I was from a very poor, my immediate family was very poor. But I came from a extended family that had a lot of wealth. But my mother was a working class mother, and, and I, I had an opportunity to go to a prep school. So I went to school with the rich kids. And I agree with you. I was I was laughing about you saying that they they're surrounded by these psycho fans who don't realize, you know, and Dylan has that great line, you never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers on the grounds that I'll do tricks for you. Yeah, I think it's there's a tremendous wisdom to them, you know, I I go back to them. And
I and I really do feel
that, yeah, that they're definitely a wisdom, even the six poisons in Buddhism has four of the seven. So I think their end pride is always you know, traditionally they saw pride is really at the root cause I think anger, a lot of anger comes from Pride. One of the things that the Prophet Muhammad Ali said him said that if somebody gets angry that he should, if he's standing he should sit down. And if he's still difficulty in one narration, he says, let him put his cheek on the earth.
And, and Imam Al Ghazali is commenting on that in his book called the 40 of our brain, he says, because it's arrogance that makes us angry. And and he said that putting your cheek on the ground is to remind yourself that you are human you are of the earth and and that you should be like the Earth. Everybody stomps on her. And yet all she gives is goodness. Yeah, that's great.
God bless, Chris. All right. It was great to see you. Take care