(8c) Dogs sometimes rescue people's lives
In west Poland, a three-year old girl went missing while temperatures were below zero degree Celsius. The next day she was found alive a few kilometres from her home. One would not expect such a little girl survives a night in a field in freezing temperatures, but she survived because her pet dog found her and kept her warm as he snuggled up to her overnight. Afterwards, she was sent to hospital where she was treated for frostbites.
Romulus and Remus, story of two brothers
Generations earlier their family came from Troy after prince Aeneas fled the sacking of the city by the Greek and arrived in Italy (it seems another of his descendants was Brutus who called an island after himself and ruled as king of Britain).
The twin's grandfather king Numitor was dethroned by his brother Amulius who killed Numitor's male heirs but his daughter Rhea Silvia was allowed to live although she was forbidden to have intercourse. Of course, she disobeyed and became pregnant of the two boys. Their great-uncle Amulius ordered them to be killed so they could not become a threat to him as adults but the servant couldn't kill the children and placed them in a basket on the river Tiber.
The boys survived and first they were nurtured by a she-wolf and a woodpecker before a shepherd and his wife continued raising them as their sons. In adulthood, the two boys discovered their real family roots, they killed Amulius and restored their grandfather Numitor as ruler. This indicates they were honourable people as they could have kept the power to themselves. But they were ambitious.
Indeed, they decided not to wait for Numitor's death to become rulers but to found a new city. However, they started quarrelling over the hill where the city should be build. Romulus began building walls around his city but Remus made fun of them and after jumping over the walls to proof they were too low, Romulus became so angry he killed Remus and thus Romulus became the only founder of the city he named after himself, Rome. But, it seems other less-known versions exist where Romulus didn't kill his brother, and he even mourned his brother's death. I summarised the best-known story because that probably was the story people preferred and thus it also tells something about the people.
The inhabitants of the city of Romulus were mainly men, such as liberated slaves who wanted women and thus, as happened in those days, they kidnapped them from the neighbouring city Sabines. As a consequence war erupted between both cities but the Sabine women ended the war by begging both armies to unite. The cities decided to merge and Romulus and the Sabine king Titus Tatius jointly ruled Rome until after the assassination of Tatius five years later when Romulus became again the only ruler. Remember, ages before, the war of Troy erupted after Prince Paris, family of Prince Aeneas who was the ancestor of Romulus, kidnapped the Greek Princess Helen and thus it seems that kidnapping women that caused wars were part of their family history although the war of Troy resulted in its total destruction while in Italy two cities united.
For many years, Romulus was a successful ruler who expanded his kingdom during wars but he became more and more autocratic and disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances (later stories suggest he went up to heaven). Still, during the following centuries the city continued to expand its influence until it became the capital of one of the largest empires ever on this planet: the Roman Empire.
Let us stick to the best-known story where Romulus killed Remus as this was the story preferred by the people and the rulers, then it almost seems as if the killing of Remus by Romulus caused a curse on the city and its rulers. Romulus may not have been the nicest person as he killed his brother simply for jumping over a wall and thus became the only ruler. Later he co-ruled with another person for five years until that person was killed, suggesting he could share power (but could he?). Still, he became autocratic. When studying the history of Rome, like Romulus many (most?) kings, senators, emperors killed their own family or allies to gain power or were killed during power struggles. Many emperors were either mad or worse, sane but so power-hungry they killed many to gain all power for themselves. If one loves a story about a man killing his brother to gain power, then maybe later rulers followed his example?
Cain and Abel, story of two brothersWe have a similar story in the Bible although of course there are differences and it may be a few thousands of years older. The biblical story mentions the brothers Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and his wife Eve. Cain killed his brother because his offering was rejected by God, his grandfather, although other stories seem to suggest a rivalry for a woman was the reason for the murder.
As the earth called out for revenge, God then punished Cain by preventing him to farm any longer and by sending him away from where he was born but God also protected Cain by marking him so no-one would attack him as otherwise seven others would die too. Although the story suggest Cain became a wanderer, I think he didn't as he founded a new city in his new land and it seems he died the same year as Adam when his house collapsed on him.
Later a descendant from Cain, Lamech, killed a young man and told his two wives that if seven lives were taken to pay for killing Cain, 77 lives would be taken if anyone would dare to kill him.
The story starts with the refusal of God to accept Cain's offer and to me the story suggests that the offer was rejected because Cain had already done evil (Gen. 4: 6-7). Maybe he offered bad stuff he wouldn't eat himself? Maybe he had already taken his brother's wife? Still, many people experience something similar in their own life without feeling the need to kill. For instance, a child rejects our (expensive) gift but is pleased with a (cheaper) gift from someone else. Although we all prefer that our gift is liked, we do not kill the person whose gift was accepted. Thus, why should Cain have killed his brother?
People argue that if God knew that Cain was planning to kill his brother, why didn't He stop him from doing so? Still, as the story of Adam and Eve tells us, we ate the apple of knowledge of good and evil and thus Cain should have known he shouldn't kill his brother. In addition, God even warn him to control his anger but as long as Cain didn't do anything wrong, it was difficult to arrest them (today people are arrested as a preventive measure and indeed many people protest against that). Maybe the reason for Cain's mild punishment (see next paragraph) was because God blamed himself for not having done more to stop Cain while finding it difficult to punish his grandson severely (God is father of Adam, thus grandfather of Cain and Abel). If indeed God knew his grandson would kill his other grandson, than God too should have been punished for not stopping the murder. As Cain was angry with God, he should have directed his anger towards God. But maybe their culture forbid to be angry with grandfathers.
Some people don't even understand why God punished Cain, but I think we would punish him much harsher for killing his own brother, at least by imprisoning him because a murder hurts those who stay behind (e.g. the parents) but also to prevent him from doing it again and as an example to others not to kill. God punished Cain by sending him away from where he was born but He also protected him by marking him so no-one would attack him as otherwise seven others would die. Thus, replace God by a judge or ruler, and the leader punished someone but also prevented others from taking revenge as many might have considered the punishment too mild.
As Romulus did, Cain then built a city in his new land where he lived until his house collapsed. Maybe the mark is a symbol for Cain's remorse: maybe after the murder he served others by building houses for them (and thus as the story suggest he was no longer a farmer while settlements were founded and thus the beginning of societies); as a result, others didn't take revenge. Nevertheless, from being the son of a leader (Adam) he became a servant, a wanderer.
But when a descendant of Cain, Lamech, killed a young man, he told his two wives that 77 lives would be taken if anyone killed him, referring to what protected Cain. I interpret this as if he tried to protect himself from being murdered as punishment by telling his followers what to do in case people would kill him. And thus, similar with Rome, a curse was placed upon them whereby people killed out of revenge ever larger numbers as the number probably increased by increasing population. In the end, it may have resulted in very large revenge killings as described in the Bible before the flooding.
Maybe such a mark exist. Indeed, after the murder of one man (and his wife) in Sarajevo, millions died in WWI. Others have smaller marks and cause rioting when they are killed while most are hardly even mentioned in the news. But even those smaller deaths may finally lead to a buildup of aggression that will explode when one person too many is killed. On the darker side, within e.g. mafia families, people place their own symbolic mark on their head and wars can erupt between or within families when a member is killed. And some people understand the meaning of such a mark; therefore they try to kill important people in the hope it will start conflicts (e.g. Rwandan genocide started after the President was killed). As we never know who is marked but can only guess, violence can erupt or not.
Or I think a curse can exist because of a very good predecessor, so that people expect all successors are equally good or better, leading to frustration with successors less qualified who imagine what their ancestor might have done and therefore make wrong decisions (e.g. most Egyptian pharaohs tried to be at least as great as Ramses II, and this started the decline of the empire). Or people become frustrated because the ancestor prevents equal chances as always descendants or like-minded people are chosen and thus others their ambitions are stopped.
But we don't know the whole story. Still, I think it is good when people question these stories because they are angry for the suffering of others and God's refusal to intervene to prevent harm to others. Although when He intervenes people are also angry (e.g. story of Sodom and Gomorrah). I think that if gods exist, they should only intervene when necessary, when evil becomes too big and we can't control it any longer, and this can happen when people allow it (e.g. agree that people without work can't get benefits during an economical crisis and accept the result when becoming unemployed). I prefer we can choose our path as long as it doesn't damage others. Indeed, religions and other institutions often dictated how they thought we should behave and although they taught us manners, unfortunately often they also caused much misery. Therefore, it is better that gods give us the freedom to live as we wish unless to prevent us from harming others (such as you shall not kill (of course, there are exceptions such as to protect others), or hell may wait as punishment; still even with the knowledge of this possible punishment, many people kill to gain).
We choose our own path and get our rewards for good behaviour or punishment for bad behaviour, and it is a pity often innocent people (and animals and plants) suffer. E.g. scientists warn us for the consequences of climate change, and as most people are not prepared to make sacrifices, the consequences will change our behaviour while without the consequences we won't change. Why should gods intervene? We all allowed it to happen. Similarly with our destruction of this planet, such as wiping out whole ecosystems.
Climate change and food shortages will kill, including humans as a sign we are no better than animals or plants, even when we think we are (if gods exist, why should they save humans if humans themselves have no respect for the planet we rule?), unless we behave (we start to have the knowledge what may happen if we do not behave and thus start to behave). E.g. fishermen know that overfishing will deplete fish stocks and as a result they will be out of work; still they continue criticising governments when governments try to save fish species. On the other hand, consumers know that when all fish is caught, never again we will be able to eat fish (unless scientists save us and design fish), and thus consumers could decide to eat less fish.
After the above, when the numbers of humans are reduced, nature will again be able to recover and it may save us from total self-destruction while we may moderate ourselves and for a very long time we will probably no longer allow that a few mess up our planet, thus preventing things go wrong so badly and so quickly. Thus, we will stop that a few destroy the planet by enforcing the law to prevent our own downfall.
Similarly, make too many people poor and those who took it all may regret too many people became poor and thus they may be more willing to share. But also ordinary people don't like sharing and hope for a bonus or tax reductions.
And that is life: it comes as it comes, with rewards for good behaviour but with punishment for bad behaviour. If people behave irresponsible in business, in the worse case they should go to jail and not as today get another bonus or golden handshake and thus other people suffer. But at this moment, because we tolerated fraud in the past (e.g. claiming disability or benefits when not needed) and even defended that people committed fraud, the system becomes too expensive during a crisis and thus the balance is now moving in the other direction and large cuts are made, whereby even people who are in real need suffer. In the end, we will no longer allow people to fraud so the system will not collapse.
Thus it all comes back to knowledge, know how to behave or know what may happen when something is done in one or another manner. In fact, if we're honest, we are still like viruses: multiplying and taking whatever we like until the body collapse and most virus particles die. A clever virus will moderate so it can spread without killing its host.
Still, natural disasters will always occur, even when one behaves well. But then, as I wrote before in another article, the aftermath will depend on its rulers and society.