Saturday, January 2, 2010


I watched a documentary--a 2007 documentary entitled simply "Nanking"--tonight on the fall of that city, at the time the capital of China, to the Japanese in December 1937 and the subsequent sack and pillage of the city by the Imperial Japanese Army.  It was horrible beyond the telling of it. And what makes this story particularly poignant is that to this day, it remains a political issue. The government of Japan has never acknowledged or apologized for the atrocity, and Japanese nationalists and militarists deny it ever occurred or that it has been grossly exaggerated. The bare facts are horrifying enough: one-third of a thoroughly bombed-out city burned by arson, somewhere around 300,000 massacred, up to 80,000 women raped.

No matter how many times you're reminded of what human beings are capable of, no matter how often you witness scenes of unspeakable brutality and evil wrought by war, it still strikes you dumb and numb to realize that nothing whatever has altered in the character of human beings in the intervening decades since this crime against humanity to prevent the same things from happening all over again. Indeed, the same atrocities--mass murder, torture, and rapine--none of them has disappeared. Indeed, they have only flourished in the years since. We have become so inured to suffering and death and cruelty, that none of it has much effect on us any longer. We still just love the hell out of war.

It makes me sick to know what we're capable of. And ain't this a hell of a cheery way to start the new year?

Pray God for some miracle. Let there be peace.
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