Next to deception, despair is perhaps Satan’s greatest tool. Could there be a more universal way to sow genuine despair than the horror of genocide? The fruit of such diabolical madness is to deceive us into believing the lie that no loving God could ever permit such brutality; that we are obviously no more than just clever talking primates, since no man with a soul could ever so blatantly fail to recognize that divine spark in another man.
The irony of such an effective lie is that, in nature, highly intelligent animals would never go to such great lengths to destroy so many of their own species, for so long, to derive so little benefit. Genocide is hard work, hard to do and hard to clean up after. So hard, in fact, that such intense effort could never be sustained without it being fueled by diabolically inspired hatred; hatred of the victim by the murderer, hatred of the murderer by the survivors and, perhaps most importantly, hatred of the murderer for himself.
We respond to the occasional pain and fear of death because we have all known it to some extent, yet, in the finality of genocide there is a deeply disconcerting, sick, order. The death is not strewn and random like in the aftermath of a bombing or the pillage of a town. Humans are herded and bodies are accumulated in garish order. The entire macabre process smacks of efficiency and premeditation, like stacks of crushed automobiles.
The black and white photos of acres of inanimate human junkyards, detach us from our essence. We ask ourselves why they didn’t fight back; how could so many have simply complied with the order to die? In listening to the stories of survivors it seems that the answer lies not only in the logistical planning of the executioners, but, in the despair of the victims. At some point, so many innocents, suddenly surrounded by so much evil simply give up on the possibility that such a world as ours is even worth occupying.
I read, long ago, of an exorcism during which the exorcist was repeatedly, diabolically attacked with mental images of piles of severed limbs and broken bodies; human corpses blowing and tumbling around like dead leaves. The visions became oppressive, until, deep in prayer, the priest finally came to realize that the reason for the incessant attacks was that this is exactly how the devil wants humanity to see itself.
Whether the human being is separated from the human body for sex or violence or simply to reaffirm the idea that we are just one giant herd, we are constantly being assaulted with the idea that we are just meat, just bones, just body piles. Satan must rob us of our dignity before he can attempt to rob us of our faith, for he understands, much better than we do, that the source of that dignity is our kinship with God. He must attack our intrinsic individual worth in order to convince us that if there even were a God, he could never love something as useless and banal as human beings.
To this end, as we’ve lost our way and wandered from our purpose, we have grown to expect so little from ourselves. We are now taught to believe that our very presence here is no more than a random accident; an imposition on polar bears and porpoises. Pictures of stacked whales that stupidly beach themselves upset us, videos of one eyed cats and three legged dogs abhor us, but, pictures from the holocaust; they simply make us sigh, and turn the channel.
© 2013. Val Bianco. All Rights Reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.