"Teacher" was talking to her Kosovar students about the war and about how not all Serbs are bad and it's not good to generalize the whole population as being one way...right?
MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2001
...Is their bitterness, their fear so great that they could do to Serbs what Serbs did to them? Could soft-spoken Veton burn a Serb village because his own was burned by Serbs? Would sweet, wide-eyed Enver, who loves basketball and never misses a class, stand by and watch while atrocities were committed? Could any of these bright, kindhearted young people kill Serbs because they are Serbs?
And if I were in their shoes, what would I be capable of? Have I come to grips with the darkness in my own heart?
Tonight I read the words of Francois Bizot, who was imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge for three months in 1971 and who writes in Le Portail: "Every war needs killers and they can always be found. We always put ourselves in the skin of the victims and not of their killers - we never put ourselves in the skin of a Nazi or Khmer Rouge. Yet between them and us there is very little difference, no more than between the victim and us."
And the same from Matthew Spender: "In extreme situations only chance divides the role of the torturer from that of his victims."
Are they right? Given the right circumstances, we are all, even the best of us, capable of anything? There are no easy answers, in Kosovo or anywhere else. (pg. 188)
I was talking to a friend in Damascus the other day and he was saying how things have changed the last two months. The uprisings that began in Syria back in March have continued yet Friend has noticed a shift. He said people are openly talking of revenge, of siding with the devil if it means toppling the regime. His exact words to me were:
ordinary people are now talking of revenge and very very dark thoughts
i fear that we will be torn apart there is so much hate now i never imagined that we would reach this levelHe said he'd even lost friends because of differing of opinions, there was much sectarian division and he did not like the way things were headed.
Listening to Friend talk and reading this excerpt from Ms. Huntley's journal makes me think the man she quoted is right when he says we often identify with the victims without perhaps realizing we are capable of evil things if circumstances go another way. Maybe the Nazis didn't realize they were doing anything wrong. They were cleansing the world of filth in order to ensure the strongest of the species survived, right? And for the Syrian regime: why not stop those traitors who are bent on destroying the country? Even religions OK killing treasonous people, don't they?
It's actually pretty easy to rationalize our favorite evil things. Thankfully most of us won't go the route of rounding up people for gas chambers, or mutilating young boys for the sake of power and control of a country. But...
What do you think of the quotes in this journal entry?