Saturday, March 4, 2017

Present Day Cain and Abel

Cain led his brother Abel out to the field and killed him. On his return, God asked him: "Where is your  brother Abel?" In defiance and feigning ignorance answers:  "I do not  know, Am I my brother's keeper?" God lamenting: "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil!"

In the Catholic Peace Weekly column 'Word and Silence' the writer begins his meditation on the first two brothers of Scripture. Cain the oldest the farmer and Abel the shepherd. Out of jealousy, Cain kills his brother. Anger, dissatisfaction, dejection and rejection all came together to gives us the first killing in our history.

Cain and Abel can be read as the symbol of many things. Cain's disposition of anger, jealousy, disobedience, resistance, violence, murder, all showing his negativity. Abel, the opposite: virtuous, simple, both co-existing in our society. The victor is always Cain, with intrigue he will always be ahead of Abel. Descendants of Cain continue to grow. Abel didn't leave any progeny.

Darwin the founder of evolution did not find it easy to find an answer to a serious question. In the evolution of humanity the victor was always the strongest and  selfish. How did humanity continue with the virtuous and altruistic in the tree of life? How was it that in the survival of the fittest the altruist and virtuous were not weeded out?

Darwin after much thought  was able to give an answer. He went beyond the individual to the group. If you look at the groups separately you will find that  the selfish individual will be on top but when you have different groups the results are different. The selfish group is not going to overcome the one with sacrifice and altruism.

This is the way Darwin expressed this: "A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection." 

The tragedy of Cain and Abel we see repeated often in our world. In Roman mythology we have the twins Romulus and Remus, when they became adults  founded Rome. They quarreled over the site and Romulus killed his brother Remus. In Roman history, we have in the Roman Royalty killing of relations frequently. In Islam history, we have this happening often with the Sultanate dynasties killing brothers or imprisoning them. In the Joseun Dynasty, we have inter-family fighting for the throne.

In Korea recently we have the unfortunate heir to the North Korean throne who has been wandering overseas for some years, assassinated. Considered to have been killed by his half-brother the present leader of North Korea. He has been known to have killed many of his rivals in government.

In the Scriptures we have the first family given birth to another son called Seth. He may have been a mixture of the two. He concludes the article by reminding us that we may be a mixture of Cain and Abel, the good with the bad. Cain's descendants may seem to be victors;  Abel may seem to lose at times but with the continuation of the community life, love and grace will continue within the history of humanity.