I’m having a hard time believing that any ideology conceived by human beings is worth killing for, and certainly not dying for. Yet we do it. We do it and we glorify it. We vilify it and we do it again. Over and over, generation after generation. We, all of us, are doing it right now.
We talk about Stalin and Hitler and Chairman Mao, and others as being mass murderers. Yet it was not they themselves who turned on the gas, who pulled the triggers, who tortured and executed and raped, and destroyed lives. It was everyday ordinary common foot soldiers who did most of the dirty work. Thousands of them.
Were they particularly evil? Were they ‘believers’ who drank up the propaganda and spilled blood for the greater good?
‘They’ believed they were doing good for ‘their’ side. They believed it came down to a choice between ‘their’ own survival, or that of their foes. ‘They’ listened to the speeches. ‘They’ believed themselves to be true and just in their actions. ‘They’ believed themselves to be better than those they persecuted.
‘They’ took one little step towards some unpleasant business. And then another small step past that. And then another. And another. And quickly more thereafter. Faster and faster ‘they’ moved away from the place where their moral compass first started out until soon the question of evil and morality and of good and bad and right and wrong seemed so clear…
They could not recognize how far they moved that line until it was too late.
Perhaps most chilling, ‘they’ are just like you and me. The capacity to bring destruction to our fellow human beings is as present in all of us every single moment of the day, as is our capacity to bring great works of good to the world. Often, one is confused for the other.
I stood at a Remembrance Day ceremony this morning, and these were the thoughts racing through my mind.