The Farmer and the Snake
A Farmer walked through his field one cold winter morning. On the ground lay a Snake, stiff and frozen with the cold. The Farmer knew how deadly the Snake could be, and yet he picked it up and put it in his bosom to warm it back to life.
The Snake soon revived, and when it had enough strength, bit the man who had been so kind to it. The bite was deadly and the Farmer felt that he must die. “Oh,” cried the Farmer with his last breath, “I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel.”
The Greatest Kindness Will Not Bind the Ungrateful.
However the problem with assuming that good is repaid for good, and evil for evil, is that it presumes that all peoples, all cultures, all ideologies and religions are equivalent. That they all react in the same way and with the same motives, treating others as they are treated. It furthermore assumes that evil exists because evil has been done to someone else.
In September 1 1939, W.H Auden responded to Hitler’s invasion of Poland by penning the lines;
Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return
Since then those same lines have been routinely taken up by liberals eager to pen their own apologetics for evil. In the wake of another early September, September 11th, Auden’s poem was re-embraced once again by liberals penning essays explaining why we were the real terrorists.
But while it is easy enough to dismiss W.H. Auden as naive, snakes don’t always look the way you expect them to. Particularly snakes who take refuge in the mind of man. Auden was more snake than farmer and his words were the snake-words of one scaly creature excusing the evil of another.
Auden you see was a Communist. And in September 1939, the USSR and Nazi Germany had an agreement. An agreement to carve up Poland. And W.H. Auden was no pacifist. The man who two years earlier had penned the line, “The consious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder” in his poem Spain, when referring to the Soviet atrocities in Spain, was not a pacifist. He was one of the snakes.