Wednesday, October 11, 2023

When Does It End?

"Inhuman," we cry, when we see human beings committing unspeakable atrocities.  "These aren't human beings," we growl.  "These are animals."  But what are we, we who claim to be human beings?

We homo sapiens sapiens are such paradoxical creatures.

We're self-aware, inarguably sentient, capable of such beauty and compassion.  We can envision realities and make them actual.  We find a way, frail and weak though we are.  We cross seas.  We make wings and fly.  We take to the heavens themselves.   We can cast our thoughts into symbol, holding thought and memory across centuries.  No other life does what we do, anywhere that we have ever encountered it.  We are a marvel, a thing of wonder.

We are also, at the same time, exceptionally horrible.

We have always been horrible.  For my whole life, the story of our world has been full of monsters, and those monsters have mostly been human beings.  For all of recorded history, that has been true.  Lions and tigers and bears?  Barely worthy a mention.  Great white sharks?  Amateurs.

We human beings butcher and we bomb, we rape and we torture, we seethe with hatred, we thirst for the suffering of others.  We spread across the land like a clattering cloud of mindless locusts, denuding it of life.

In our moments of compassion, we struggle mightily with that, with our perpetual cycle of violence and grasping.  And then something unsettles us, and we succumb again to the bright hot clarity of our hatred.

That has been evident, again, for every moment of my short life.  News is and has always been a parade of horrors.  It is nothing more than a continuance of our history.  Wars and slaughters, tragedy piled upon tragedy.  

We know we have to step away from it, to release the sword.  But the moment we go to set down the sword, it whispers to us.  "I will be used against you, and you will die."  

That's true, of course, in the way that every word of that archetypal Serpent was true.

So we keep our hate tight in our hands, and our suffering never ends.