Progressive activists are well aware of the brutalities in West Papua, in Gaza, in Guantanamo Bay, in Baltimore and Chicago . . .
Those war crimes, as they might be called, are tremendous but often unchecked. Protests and condemnation all too often find no foothold in the existing system designed to protect and guard inequality and inhumanity. For all intents and purposes, those brutalities are the way the world is run. Murder, deception, theft, rape, torture, incarceration — unjust, untried, unpunished.
But on a smaller scale, we see these in our own intimate lives as well. Dead dolls and painted faces, petty grudges and false witness, in-group behavior and blindness to the sufferings of others. Masks, scars, armor.
Our war crimes. The slap in the face. The knife in the back. The lying gossip. Turning the limestone foundation of our lives into the crumbles of a cupcake. Dividing us. Refusing one another protection, strength, respect, courtesy.
I’ve been playing the game Hearthstone, based on World of Warcraft, for a while now, and recently discovered the accompanying book series. I am reading War Crimes by Christie Golden now, in which a vicious warlord is standing trial for his many crimes. However, the book is not about condemnation, but rehabilitation. Even of this bloodstained chieftain.
I do not believe everyone can be rehabilitated. But especially not when they face no penalty, no censure, and their acts of cruelty and unkindness are tolerated by the system — and by the society, the human beings, who surround them. Sexual exploitation. Intimate partner violence. Gossip. All our war crimes in our own sphere.
This wheat-and-tares world.