Coming in from the cold

Aug
19
2013
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
0
Comments

I´ve been traveling since mid-July and now on holiday for two weeks, which is why you haven´t heard from me, and two experiences I had during all these travels that really stood out for me had to do with the common theme. commitment, by which I mean commitment to common humanity.

I´ve been traveling since mid-July and now on holiday for two weeks, which is why you haven´t heard from me, and two experiences I had during all these travels that really stood out for me had to do with the common theme. commitment, by which I mean commitment to common humanity.

One of the joys of our annual family vacation is the selection of books to take on holiday with us. I always try for a mixed bag of entertainment, contemporary literature and one or two classics I´ve just never got round to reading.

This time, one of the stack was John LeCarre´s spy classic, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Despite its title and racy plot, which centers around a triple bluff bit of espionage during the Cold War in East Berlin, this is not so much a spy novel as a book about the moral ambiguity of the two positions during the Cold War, and how humanity was sacrificed in the name of dubious ideology, both in East and West.

During one scene, the British spy protagonist Alec Leamas is asked by an East German secret agent what his ´philosophy´is. ´

We´re not Marxists, we´re nothing. Just people,´ he replies. The German Fiedler keeps probing, saying, then what makes you do all this? You must have some sort of philosophy?

And Leamas finally says, ´I suppose we don´t like communism.´

But Fiedler isn´t satisfied. How, for instance, can all you, who are mainly Christian, do all the killing you do when you are supposed to believe in the sanctity of human life?´

The point is, of course, that neither side really does have a workable philosophy, and there are no really good guys or bad guys here, just people who have lost any sense of humanity.

I began thinking about another experience I had a few weeks before when I met Patricia Ellsberg during my travels to the States.

Patricia is married to Daniel Ellsberg, the former Pentagon insider who leaked all the Pentagon papers to the New York Times and other newspapers in America in the early 1970s to expose all the lies told by the American government about the Vietnam War.

Ellsberg knew what he was in for: he was arrested, put on trial and faced life imprisonment. Nevertheless, he and his then new wife Patricia were willing to martyr themselves because they believed that it was an important thing to do – that the American people needed to know what sorts of atrocities were being committed in their name.

They believed that in fighting communism, America had given up its fundamental sense of humanity, and that this was an essential thing to recover.

I think of that now – that sense of commitment to ourselves and humans – and I see very little evidence among the rank and file of young Western people of commitment to that sanctity of life, few protests or acts signifying any objection to the atrocities committed by Western countries, particularly America, against the human family.

In the end, Alec Leamas makes a sacrificial act that restores to him his sense of humanity.

He truly comes in from the cold. It´s time for the rest of us to do that as well.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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