An excellent article (see here by Rabbi Berel) builds on the story of Balak and Bilaam to remind us of a few very relevant isssues for today.
Wein begins “This past century, the bloodiest in all of human history, should have lain to rest two of the most cherished theories about mankind postulated by the Enlightenment and Secular Humanism. One was the idea that all moral questions, all issues of right and wrong, good and evil, were subject to being correctly decided on the basis of man’s reason alone, without the necessity (better put, without the interference) of divine revelation or organized religion. Man, and man alone, would be the final and autonomous arbiter of morality.
This idea brought with it, as a necessary corollary, the firm belief that man left to his own reasoning devices would invariably choose to do what is right, what promotes life and fairness and the common good. This second idea of man’s innate choice of goodness was aided and abetted by an arrogant belief that an educated person was more likely to do good than an illiterate one — that a Ph.D. graduate would be less likely to kill, harm, maim and destroy than a poor, hardscrabble, backwards farmer.”
….. see the continuation of the article.
The article and its relevence to current Israel haters also serves as a reminder of the George Orwell quote “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”