Sonntag, 27. September 2015

Treasure Islands of the Bookshelf (5): About hell – and heaven #BloggerFuerFluechtlinge

What about hell – is it a big fire in which you have to burn, suffer great physical torments and many red devilkin gambol around you? And is it the same thing for everybody?
The philosopher and author Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980, Paris, France) considered this question in his 1944 premiered play No Exit.
Three people who never met in life – the journalist Garcin, the postal employee Inés and the wealthy Estelle – are trapped together in a room an realise slow but steady that they won’t come out of it. So for example Inés:

There is no physical torment, is it? Yet still we are in hell. And nobody may come. Nobody. We will be alone together to the end.

At the beginning they accept it, but with increasing length of stay it gets more and more inconvenient. It turns out that all the three are in hell because they tortured other people during their lifetime, and the confrontation with that truth hurts. Partly so much that Garcin tries to get the door open and to leave the room:

Open! Open! I tolerate everything: Screws fort he legs, forceps, fluid plumb, jougs, everything that burns, everything that tortures, I really want to suffer. Rather hundred stitches, rather bullwhip, vitriol than this abstract suffering, this shadow suffering that touches you, that strokes you and never really hurts.

But then the insight becomes prevalent that it is and will stay like that: That they are trapped with the two other ones and that they have to bear with each other for all eternity. So finally Garcin says:

Oh! You are only two? I thought you’d be more. He laughs. So this is hell. I never had believed it … Do you still remember: brimstone, stake, grate … What inanities. There is no need for a grate, hell is other people.

Hell is other people.
Or we ourselves in our controversies with ourselves and others.
And thereby everybody has a hell on his own.

But in the here and now we are not forced to stay in this hell.
We have the freedom to change single things, or even to leave complete living contexts. And we have the freedom to decide to be heaven or hell on our own, for others and even for ourselves.

Many refugees who come to us have gone through hell. They witnessed terrible things, decided then to escape from this condition and to set out for a hopefully better future. For some of them the getaway was another hell.
Now it is our turn to decide what we want to be for them – heaven or hell?

Explicitly this difference is shown by a picture of a child that went around the world during the last days: It is the picture of a Syrian refugee child for the German federal police which shows clearly the experienced hell and the afterwards perceived heaven.

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