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Thursday April 14, 2022
These days, every newscast about the war in Ukraine includes a warning about “disturbing images.”
Victims lying in the streets, hands tied behind their backs, a bullet hole in their heads. Bodies, wrapped in plastic, laid out like speed bumps. Trenches with the dead stacked like sardines.
Tomorrow’s “Good Friday” church services should carry a similar warning: “This service may contain disturbing images.”
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Good Friday, Cruelty, sadism
The progress of civilization is not measured by democracy or economics, by health or wealth, nor by art or architecture. It’s measured by our reduction of cruelty.
I needed to state that thesis up front. To discuss it, I have to cite instances of cruelty that will turn your stomach. If I started this column with them, you’d probably quit reading.
Let’s start with Genghis Khan, who reputedly killed 40 million people in his 30-year reign. He executed one enemy by pouring molten silver into his eyes and ears.
Which is probably characteristic of his time. A rival tyrant boiled captured generals alive. Victims may have been conscious for several hours as they cooked.
Scottish explorer James Bruce became the first European to enter the mountain kingdom of Ethiopia. The emperor and his vizier entertained their visitor by putting out the eyes of a dozen slaves while they ate dinner.
Tags: Cruelty, Genghis Khan, Inquisition, torture, kindness