The Fate of Humanity…

…sometimes seems bleak.

I’m working on a book of essays about genocide studies. Many of them are classic scholarly dissections of who said what and when, and whether the author agrees or respectfully thinks they’re morons.

But then there are the other chapters:
Nazis vs. Poland
English vs. Aborigines
Germans vs. Herero and San
Spanish vs. Inca
Turks vs. Armenians
Cambodians vs. Vietnamese vs.
Canadians vs. Blackfoot

and the list goes on and on and on…

It’s a pretty depressing assignment. To think that there’s enough genocide in human history that there are legions of scholars dissecting it, and journals and books devoted to it — well, it’s just sad.

I’d like to end on a happy note, something about rubbing noses with my darling daughter or giant little-boy hugs. But I’ve got a headache and this book’s taking forever to finish. I think I’m going to play computer games now…mindless entertainment sounds pretty good.



Filed under editing

4 responses to “The Fate of Humanity…

  1. thegoodwitch

    What I find worse is that in countries like New Zealand, the Holocaust isn’t taught in schools and Holocaust deniers are accepted. And we wonder how it can happen over and over again…

  2. Henitsirk

    Goodwitch: that’s amazing to me! I just can’t understand the idea of denying the Holocaust. If it’s all a hoax, where did my mother’s family all go? Why did my great aunt have numbers tattooed on her arm? It’s so offensive for people to say it’s a hoax or conspiracy. No one would have voluntarily chosen what happened.

    And why would they not teach about it in school — it didn’t impact NZ directly, but it was part of WWII and affected the entire world in many ways.

  3. Theo Huffman

    Hey Anthromama,

    I know where you’re coming from. I studied German literature in graduate school, and there were times I felt like I was getting a steady diet of holocaust literature, and I couldn’t get away from it because it was my assigned reading. Then I was Books Editor at an Enlish-language newspaper in Budapest in the early 90s, and the subject matter of a great many of the books I got to review was… you guessed it!… the holocaust. I even lived in a flat with balcony that overlooked the scene of WWII atrocities on the Danube banks.

    All I can say is: it passes. It’s like TV news and newspapers. They may focus on the worst of what’s happening to feed readers’ morbid fascinations (and sell advertising), but there’s still an awful lot of unreported good going on in the world. But you don’t read in the papers about well-functioning communities, beneficial institutions and all the many countless acts of love that take place every day. (Booooorrriiinnnggg! Say the editors.)

    On one level it’s important to become familiar with the horrible things mankind has inflicted on its own, so you can be on guard to prevent such things happening in your corner of the world, but eventually your consciousness can and must rise to a level where you realize that the nature of the universe is really truth, beauty and goodness.

  4. Henitsirk

    Theo, thanks for stopping by! I remember studying Native American and GLBT literature in college and thinking that if only I were male in addition to being white and straight, I would have 3 strikes!

    One interesting thing about this assignment was that I learned that all this nitpicking about what is and is not genocide is actually useful in a tangible sense — because the remunerations and justice outcomes depend on current opinion on definitions and the scope of genocidal activities. One thing that was left out of the original definition of genocide (post-WWII) was the idea of cultural genocide. So even if certain Native Americans were able to maintain themselves physically on food-bearing land and were not outright slaughtered, one could say that genocide still occurred if their very way of life was outlawed — e.g. the Sun Dance, which formed a large part of Plains Indians’ social and economic life.

    And what you say about the news is exactly the reason I stopped reading the newspaper or watching TV…the horrible stuff is sensational, but brings on a numbness to suffering in my opinion. And it doesn’t focus on what we all can do to make the world better.

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