The Humanist

“I gaze at these great marvels of engineering, these spectacles of architecture, with the wide-eyed wonder of an innocent child. The grown adult in me recognizes the excess, and the exploitation of the human spirit that must have occurred to realize these grand achievements, and while my compassionate heart may shed a silent tear, it’s not one of protest. How can I protest? I’m all too aware of my own culture’s bloody past. How it was that humanity’s inhumanity toward itself led to our position of relative comfort in a world filled with relentless suffering. The enslavement of cultures and flesh, the domination of nature, the countless murders that have been committed and continue to be committed to secure our way of life. I accept the brutes that we are, and no handful of conscientious objectors who wear about themselves, like a hypocritical cloak, the shame over the atrocities done in the name of progress, culture, or nation, shall change this old woman’s mind.

“Instead of tut-tutting at the waste and uselessness of these edifices, I applaud as hard as I’m able, until my hands and heart hurt from the expression of joy. It is no different from gaping at the ancient pyramids, the Great Wall, or any other wondrous ruins from our bygone ages. Does anyone think for one moment that those stones found their places without suffering? Does it stab at the conscience, taking a selfie while standing on the very bones of a dead past built, brick by brick, from the tormented sweat and blood of its citizenry?

“These days I find acceptance and appreciation far easier on the mind than the guilt that so many seem to glom onto themselves, and perhaps it comes from a place of privilege, but who knows? Who can know my own past but myself? I have suffered well enough and continue to do so on a moment-to-moment basis, thank you very much! But rather than dwell on that pain I choose to embrace the present accomplishments of humanity, no matter how ‘evil’, for if I can in this way ease a tiny portion of my own pain then I will take it. Like a rat chewing through a convict’s belly to escape the boiling inferno of a heated bucket, so I scrabble through my own existence.

“I’m only human, after all.”

2015.01.05 – 2023.08.06

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