When I was in college, the school decided that their liberal arts mission would be “Exploring the Human Condition.” I never figured out what that meant when I was there.
But I have a different vibe nowadays. However, it’s not the grandeur that many focus on. It’s not the humanistic achievements that so much of the liberal arts is grounded in. Instead it focuses on the gloomy side. In short I can’t believe the amount of debasement and cruelty we humans are capable of. Examples abound. Medieval tortures and executions, Shariah head and hand choppings, tribal punishments. All that human creativity directed towards hurting each other as painfully as possible is sometimes astounding. Why do we do it?
One answer is that is simply life, or sometimes it is simply war. All that gives me is a yeah but feeling. Yeah but what a crappy answer. That implies that it is simply part of being human. Since that’s the best answer we have, I guess it’ll have to do.
Other, more optimistic folks, will point to the great things humanity has accomplished. But that in no way makes the negative “worth it.” It simply states that the equation balances out. Hmm, that leaves me cold.
Others live in the hallucination that somehow, we moderns, we westerners, are different. Would be nice if it were true. But let’s face it. We’re human too. Our nation started as a religious experiment. How much blood was spilt in pursuit of the city on the hill? Then the
But what does it feel like to experience this stuff? What is the experience of having your ear nailed to a post while you’re whipped, until you are cut free? What is the experience of standing on the verge of the 90th story thinking of your family but knowing you can’t stand the heat another 30 seconds? What is the experience of having a burning coal placed into your kneepit and bound in until it cools – because you ran away from your husband? What is the experience of being a 7 year old girl, watching your family murdered, your little brother raped and murdered, and yourself raped for weeks? What is the experience of watching the cavalry gallop down onto your little village, with your grandparents and your children in the village? What is the experience of hearing the bombers and looking up only to see the world explode as in
I guess this is where god would help. It would feel good to think that there was some greater plan and all this human suffering actually meant something. But what if it is just the nature of humanity? Our cruelty and creation might be no different than other carnivores killing their prey so their young can grow.
That thought will make you existential quickly. Especially realizing that you really have no control at all.
Then I look at my own kids. All I can think is that if I can help it, not them. But this is knowing that this crazy shit does happen to regular people. On a regular basis. And sometimes it is our people who are doing it.
I don’t know if my