my civ teacher wanted us to design a hell for the 21st century. . .

The Hell of Our Dreams

I believe that Hell exists only as a construct of our individual minds – as if the thought of going someplace that we truly do not want to be, and spending eternity there, is enough of an incentive for most people to do what is “right” and not what is “wrong”. I believe that we have this good/evil paradigm primarily because: (1) early humans needed a way to explain why “bad” things happen and how our concept of God would punish “bad” people for their crimes; and (2) early churches needed a way to scare the masses into being faithful to organized religion, in order to distinguish between “us” and “them”, “civilized” and “barbaric”. Those are just my opinions, though – beliefs that I hold to be true, according to my own readings, life experiences, and studies of human behaviors. From that premises, the Hell that I would construct (if I were, Heaven forbid, ever given such a task, would look a little different to each individual whose fortune led to That Bad Place Where Bad People Go.

First, I must re-define the word bad, because I think that calling something “bad” confers upon it what author Robert Anton Wilson calls an isness, an ability to “be” something other than what it seems to be.[1] I try to see things as they seem to be, if I have to attach a value judgment to whatever it is I am looking at, at all. For instance, my friend Michael lost his partner of 19 years during last year’s holiday season. To say that he “is” still sad does not lend credence to the fact that there were many moments during the past year where Michael seemed perfectly happy, content, and adjusted. However, if I say that in this moment, Michael seems to be sad, that lends more accuracy to my perception of Michael’s current state of emotions. This is a technique known as English-Prime, or more simply, E-Prime (Wilson 99). So, to define the word bad as it will be used herein, I will simply define it as “having a quality that seems to not be beneficial for one’s self or for anybody else”[2]. Therefore, villains, we will surmise, are the people that commit acts that seem to “bad”.

I have trouble with that because I believe that whatever a person does, it is right, according to that person’s worldview. While a particular decision may not be one that I would make, if I were to put my self in . . . say, Hitler’s shoes, I can not completely guarantee that I would not have made the same choices that he did. Everything from his childhood to his religious beliefs, even to the semi-hallucinogenic effects of the syphilis he is believed to have contracted while in Vienna[3] made an impact on his worldview. He studied, and came to believe in, the works of Lanz von Liebenfels and Georg von Schoenerer; he learned politicking from Karl Luger.[4] If I had, too, would I hate Jews?

So, to design Hitler’s Hell, he would just have to be made to believe that he had it all wrong – that really, God (as he knew God) really did favor the Jews and Jesus was really a Jew. Or better, to have him believe that his own mother was Jewish. I believe that either of those scenarios would be worse than any amount of fire and brimstone for the poor son of Alois and Klara Hitler.

I chose Hitler because he always seems to be the obvious choice for people looking for someone to reserve a special seat in Hell for. But there are other “villains”, too, like bank robbers and rapists. A bank robber likely fears poverty, so Hell for a bank robber would mean internalizing the thought that no matter what that person has, s/he will always be looked upon – even by her/himself – as poor. Hell for a rapist, I think, would be spending eternity as eunuched sex slave. Or at least, having that rapist believe that that is what s/he “is”, and not just “seems to be”.

If I were to design a 21st century Hell, it would not be of bricks or mortar or other things that can physically decay. In my 21st century, Hell would be more subtle, like a post-hypnotic suggestion – and not one dealing with fire and brimstone. It would be one that made the Hell-bound one relive his most excruciating fear, over and over and over again.

[1] Wilson, p. 100
[2] Author’s definition
[3] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/hitler.html
[4] Ibid.

Sources Cited

Adolph Hitler (1997). The Jewish Virtual Library: A Division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved 26 November 2006 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org.

Wilson, Robert Anton (1990). Quantum Psychology: How Brain Software Programs You & Your World. AZ: New Falcon Publications

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