I don’t believe in God, I believe in Stories – or, maybe it’s Vonnegut

“There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too.”
Though this quote comes from the World War II-centered Mother Night (published in 1961), its wisdom and ugly truth still ring. Vonnegut (who often said “The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected”) was righteously skeptical about war, having famously survived the only one worth fighting in his lifetime. And it’s never been more true: Left or right, Christian or Muslim, those convinced they’re doing violence in service of a higher power and against an irretrievably inhuman enemy are the most dangerous creatures of all.

Kurt Vonnegut is swell. I was going to say he is one of my favorite writers, but, really, he is my favorite writer.

The below is excerpted from 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will:

“There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too.”
Though this quote comes from the World War II-centered Mother Night (published in 1961), its wisdom and ugly truth still ring. Vonnegut (who often said “The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected”) was righteously skeptical about war, having famously survived the only one worth fighting in his lifetime. And it’s never been more true: Left or right, Christian or Muslim, those convinced they’re doing violence in service of a higher power and against an irretrievably inhuman enemy are the most dangerous creatures of all.

Mother Night is the first book I read by Vonnegut. It’s time to read it again.

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  1. this will be a post I must expand upon – but for now, it is what it is.

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  2. I only read Slaughterhouse 5 (and saw the movie). I loved it! I just posted that pic / quote on FB.
    Thanks Holly! xoxox

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    1. Geordie – it’s time ti expand to the joy that is Vonnegut! You will love him. My first book was Mother Night – which is very dark, but sooooo human, the Cat’s Cradle, The Siren’s of Titan, God Bless you Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse Five, Wampeters Foma and Granfalloons, Time Quake. Oh!!! Welcome to the Monkey House – you will love. I still have to read Man Without a Country. These are just the books oof the top of my head. Highly highly highly recommended. Very zen – very funny – very wise.

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  3. The way the statement against violence is worded, so carefully, makes me a little suspicious about it. I’m not expert in just war theory, which is a domain of philosophy, but in my view the answers that are selected here have to do with the aesthetic sensibility particular to a given society. Since it has to do with largely ritualized death, was is attributed central cultural significance. Situations like the Iraq wars become opportunities for people to proclaim their moral views openly, and thus socially, and thereby achieve a sense of life-fulfilment. Still, the terms of evaluation have never been universal from time to time, nor yet again are they universal from place to place. As always, there continue to be disputes over the legality of fighting such-and-such a foe, whether at home or abroad, and about the morality (!) of the means of butchery and maiming (as if death by 5-inch bayonet is somehow more just than death by mustard gas). But i think it’s important to realize that the solutions were present as first principles are not apodictic, but matters of choice. They are meaningful not because they are obvious, but because they’ve been thought about, weighed against the alternatives, and chosen. That is the meaningful choice. And mine: of course i agree with Vonnegut — who wouldn’t?

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    1. Some heavy stuff to think about! wah!

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