“Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing — may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget.” – Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
I think about places like Auschwitz and Hiroshima quite often. I also think about “smaller crimes” to humanity, which are committed every day. I think about places that have been touched by violence and hate. Is there any place on this planet not tainted?
I, like most, see myself on the side of the oppressed. I, like many others, have been oppressed and violated — my boundaries blurred.
I think of these things not to feel sorry for myself or pity others or even to sympathize. I think of them to remember each person is capable of evil. Great evils don’t just happen in some far away lands. It is within each one of us — much closer than we’re comfortable.
The greatest threat or danger isn’t some terrorist far away, it is a denial of our own potential for evil. Denied, unknown, buried deep within, it lurks, at any moment ready to explode. That is danger. That is a real threat.
When tragedies occur, people ask why. Why did it happen? Why did they do it? Why was it possible?
If you do not know the answer to these questions, you have not become familiar with your own evil. You have not explored your own selfishness and greed, your hate and the violence pulsing through you. You must become familiar with the dark, because THAT is where you will find your light.
It is not enough to be good or decent, we must do the inner work these times require. The good you think you are isn’t the real good, the real light within. To find it, you must dive into the depths of your own darkness, and face your own fears about yourself.