The great Christian Roman philosopher Severinus Boethius once noted that man, when he forgets his nature, becomes much worse than the beasts. As we look around at a world where Hamas terrorists committed unimaginably horrific atrocities on Israeli civilians and thousands globally turned into the streets or took to social media to celebrate, Boethius’s observation seems disturbingly relevant.
Boethius, born in the late 400s AD, was from a Roman consular family. Both he and his two sons served as Roman consuls (chief magistrates), and he was a confidant to King Theodoric. His life changed dramatically when political rivals falsely accused him of various crimes, including disloyalty to the king; he was imprisoned without trial, eventually executed, and is considered a saint in the Catholic Church, his feast day Oct. 23.
But Boethius’s great gift to posterity was the book he wrote in prison, “De Consolatione Philosophiae (Concerning/On the Consolation of Philosophy),” where his trials enabled him to have a very clear understanding of the shallowness of worldly prosperity—and the depths to which human nature can sink. One of his observations is particularly apropos of the Israeli-Hamas conflict and the reactions it sparked:
Indeed, the condition of human nature is just this; man towers above the rest of creation so long as he realizes his own nature, and when he forgets it, he sinks lower than the beasts. For other living things to be ignorant of themselves, is natural; but for man it is a defect.
It ought to be easy for every sane person to understand that the Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel and the Palestinian leaders who justified the terrorism are worse than animals. If animals are brutal, it is because it is in their nature to be predators — the tiger or bear that kills another animal is not malicious but simply feeding itself as it was designed to do. But the terrorists who ravaged villages, raped women, butchered babies, stabbed and burned alive civilians, decapitated innocents, and gunned down entire families are worse than the beasts. They set fire to living humans, including children, and tied up family members to make them watch their loved ones be brutally mutilated.
And yet there were thousands of people all over the world who celebrated these unspeakable, demonic crimes. These included many Muslims — brainwashed by their twisted religion into hating all Jews and Westerners. But what is particularly astounding is how many leftists went wild with joy or marched cheering in support of “Palestine” when they heard the news that kids had been chopped apart and entire families had been slaughtered.
BLM celebrated the Hamas terrorists. College campuses were overrun with “pro-Palestinian” protestors. Thousands turned out for rallies in Philadelphia, New York, and elsewhere. A Jewish group stormed a Capitol Hill building in support of “Palestinians.” Countless young people took to TikTok and other social media to celebrate the “freedom fighters” who murdered Israelis in cold blood. My God, what happened to the West — to America?
A crowd of Muslim pro-Palestine demonstrators chant “gas the Jews” outside the Sydney Opera House in Australia on Oct. 9. Where was Antifa? pic.twitter.com/hLbifvXhYS
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) October 10, 2023
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) October 17, 2023
Boethius would have an answer for us. When men not only forget their own nature but their common human nature, which we share with all other men, they do terrible things. The Hamas terrorists did not see innocent babies and mothers. They did not see fellow humans. They saw “colonizers” and “oppressors” and “Jews,” against whom — in their perverted minds — any atrocity was justified (of course Israel is absolutely not the aggressor, the Arabs always have been, but that’s a different topic).
The foolish leftists who danced with glee at the heinous Hamas terrorism — many of whom would themselves be killed by Hamas on sight for their lifestyle or skin color — did not think of the Israeli victims as humans. They, too, thought only of “colonizers” and “oppressors” and “Jews” and “white supremacists” and “dirty Zionists.”
The terrorists and their supporters forgot their human nature and became more degraded than the cruelest and lowest animals that exist. In fact, they became not only bestial but also demonic.