Thursday, February 02, 2017

Simone Weil replies to Donald Trump

The list of obligations towards the human being should correspond to the list of such human needs as are vital, analogous to hunger.

Among such needs, there are some which are physical, like hunger itself. They are fairly easy to enumerate. They are concerned with protection against violence, housing, clothing, heating, hygiene and medical attention in the case of illness. There are others which have no connexion with the physical side of life, but are concerned with its moral side. Like the former, however, they are earthly, and are not directly related, so far as our intelligence is able to perceive, to the eternal destiny of man. They form, like our physical needs, a necessary condition of our life on earth. Which means to say that if they are not satisfied, we fall little by little into a state more or less resembling death, more or less akin to a purely vegetative existence.

They are much more difficult to recognize and to enumerate than are the needs of the body. But every one recognizes that they exist. All the different forms of cruelty which a conqueror can exercise over a subject population, such as massacre, mutilation, organized famine, enslavement  or large-scale deportation, are generally considered to be measures of a like description even though a man’s liberty or his native land are not physical necessities. Every one knows that there are forms of cruelty which can injure a man’s life without injuring his body. They are such as deprive him of a certain form of food necessary to the life of the soul.

--Simone Weil, The Need for Roots

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