After an atrocity, the survivor’s emotions are a pall unrelieved by time – so powerful, so rending, those emotions, that even the avenging spirits have to flee. How does someone live with the horror and pain of watching their loved ones mutilated?
Fact – every atrocity in history was worse than we think. It is not just the parents that are buried in the scorched earth, crushed in the rubble, discarded underneath a jumble of rocks. Wailing children, too. Grandparents, already frail and failing.
Why, do you ask? Why do men do this to their fellow men? Pogroms need no reason. None that can weather challenge, in any case.
Difference in kind is the first recognition; the only one needed, in fact. Land, domination, accusations of insurrection, pre-emptive attacks, WMDs – all just excuses, mundane justifications that do nothing but disguise the simple distinction.
They are not us. We are not them.
Warmongers always view their adversaries no differently from the way they view ants underfoot, herds on the grasslands, or indeed the grass itself. Ubiquitous. A feature of the landscape, to be done away with as they please.
A richly cultured, ancient people reduced to simplistics. Nothing-isms, designed to dehumanise, to make them easier for the simple soldier to destroy without compunction.
Genocide knows the same formula, wherever it is committed. Eradication requires no mathematical calculations, no complex machinations.
All it requires is apathy – good people, strong voices, mute or cowed in the face of horror.
This is why Zimbabwe scares me. You do not know what is going to happen. Will it be next year? The year after that?
Do we have the capacity to brutalise our fellow men, to visit such horror upon our neighbours as to scar them for life?
We have already shown that we can – we have proved how bad things get. But we still have a chance to figure it out, to realise that no matter how motivated, what bring us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.
We are more than this or that party, this or that race, this or that language or ethnicity.
We are all Zimbos, after all.
Not this time.