24th January 2013
By 1910, many in Europe, Asia, and the Americas felt that their societies had reached a high point in culture and freedom, with their governments beginning to recognize and codify basic human rights and the rule of law, albeit at different levels. Yet a mere 50 years later, nascent democracies in Russia, Germany, Turkey, China, and Japan had all been overtaken by totalitarian dictatorships which institutionalized the killing of their own or conquered citizens at a scale unimaginable in 1910. Indeed, government sanctioned killing of unarmed civilians continued with the Killing Fields in Cambodia in the 1970’s to the mass murders in Srebrenica in the 1990’s.
The brutal murder of school children in Newtown by a lone individual is horrific and unforgettable. Yet, every day throughout Nazi occupied Eastern Europe, groups of unarmed civilians were rounded up and executed; fully sanctioned by the Nazi government.
We tend to think of governments in a benign manner; minder of the infrastructure, deliverer of the mail, dispenser of the free stuff, “the only thing we all have together.” Those lying face first in mass unmarked graves throughout the world would disagree.
In a nutshell.