Grand Inquisiter

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade March 2001

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This issue of the freedom can be applied to the society today. I now serve many homeless, oppressed women at my PULSE placement, Rosie's Place, and that started me thinking about the existence of poverty and oppression in our society. What caused the homeless people to end up in the situation they are in? I agree with Ivan to some extent, that freedom can be a cause of the destruction of societal harmony. Many people living in poverty and oppression are powerless in our society, and they are being ignored and stepped on in our materialistic society, just as children are being abused by their parents in some family. Because of the way our society is, there is so much freedom given to rich people, and almost none to poor, oppressed people.

On the other hand, Zossima has different view on human necessity in terms of bringing the ordered world.

He argues in the text that, "Of the pride of Satan what I think is this; it is hard for us on earth to comprehend it, and therefore it is so easy to fall into error and to share it, even imagining that we are doing something grand and fine (p.76)." He claims that the reason we make false decisions and errors is the excess difficulty to comprehend the definition of sin and especially because we have no fear of man's sin.

How do we have a better comprehension of it then? Zossima's answer to this question is to love everything what God has created for us, to love everyone and be responsible for every one. He says, "If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day (p.75)." Loving and taking care and responsibility of each other will prevent us to make errors and wrong decisions.

Zossima's idea is a perfect solution to the attempt to better the situation of the oppressed people today. If everyone could care about those oppressed people and made actions to improve the situation, it would make a perfect, idealistic world. However, just as mentioned throughout The Grand Inquisitor, human beings have the animalistic side that leads them to act to satisfy their own desires, and sometimes even the evil desires, which makes it impossible to create a world without any suffering of any individuals.

Although the two characters, Ivan and Zossima have different approaches to come to the conclusion of reaching true happiness; Ivan passively idealizing the perfect world or Zossima actively trying to better the situation in the world we now live in, they are ultimately trying to answer the question, "Why did God create us so we will suffer or make errors?" I think this question was led from two of the fundamental questions in Philosophy; 1)"Where does evil come from?" and 2)"What was the essential purpose for God to create us (basically asking what our expectation is)?" There cannot be one single answer to answer these questions, or at least I have not yet come up with one.

Our society now is a good reflection of what both Ivan and Zossima talk about in The Grand Inquisitor. Our society needs a good balance of both of their ideas, in order to better the society, in which every individual can be happy. Now that I am involved in PULSE, I really see how Zossima's view is very important, because I now feel like I can take part in the process, and help those oppressed people. If every individual could come to this realization and make even a small action to help the situation, our society could have less issue of poverty and oppression.