Monday, May 3, 2010

Human Atrocities

“That the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of the history of the whole world” ~ John Adams ~

On Saturday night, hubby and I watched Schindler’s List, a war-drama film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Although this wasn’t the first time I’d seen this film, it touched me as though it was. Whenever I watch movies, documentaries or television programs that depict the dark underbelly of humanity, it leaves me disturbed.


My whole life has been spent in a quiet and relatively safe environment, so it’s difficult for me to imagine what people throughout history have suffered (and continue to suffer) in the name of religion or nationalism or discrimination. In addition to the holocaust, the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which saw the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of the country’s Tutsis and moderate Hutus, most of which were hacked to death by machetes, is another recent event that shocks me. How a majority of people in a country could unite in brutality is beyond me.

And what’s most unsettling is that we don’t know half of what goes on around the world. Humans torture, kill, maim and go to war with one another everyday in different parts of the world. We only hear about a small portion of these horrors; the majority of it goes unreported, unnoticed. The world is essentially oblivious to the magnitude of violence and mayhem that our fellow human beings endure daily.

How can anyone carry out these atrocities without remorse, without guilt, without an iota of compassion? How do these sadistic individuals cause the suffering of another person and feel nothing? How can anyone stand by and watch someone else in pain, pain that they have caused? It’s beyond my comprehension. The very thought of these inhuman actions causes me distress.

And I often wonder how much of a responsibility the world has towards these merciless situations? Should we get involved? Should we step in as soon as we are aware that something horrible is going on in another part of the world and put an end to it? Instead of shaking our heads as we watch it on the news, mumbling “That’s awful” but not really feeling the need to take action. How much of a right do we have to cross the borders of another country and intervene? Are we citizens of a country or citizens of the world?

What do you think?

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