“Evil begins when you begin treating people as things.”
DEATH said it…
Tiffany Aching said it…
Sam Vimes said it…
Granny Weatherwax said it…
Of course Terry Pratchett said it…through them all.
And if you think about it, most of our problems stem from just this…
“He should move away/die/believe only me/ walk only in tight circles/… for me to succeed/ be happy…”
“She should wear only saris/ think in whispers/ live in seclusion/be my slave….then all will be right in this world”
Once people stop being themselves, being irrational, weird aka- being human in our books… once they stop being people like us, with joys and sorrows like us; then they become things.
And things can easily be changed/controlled/ subdued according to OUR whims and fancies…that’s when the trouble starts and evil brews.
Letting people be people requires courage.
Understanding others despite differences in culture/sex/social status/religion requires courage.
And true courage is rare.
I remember a newspaper picture of an old man, wearing white sitting alone in a room with a walking stick held tight between both hands. The background was black and the tables and chairs in the background had merged into their shadows. It made him stand out more in his white clothes.
The picture held my gaze while the story below was of a courage so rare that it made me stare harder at the picture of the old man with the walking stick and eyes looking away from the camera…a picture of grim repose.
That old man had handed over his only son to the police because he found him raping a minor.
In our society, people have been known to harbour criminal relatives and paint them as pillars of society just to save face…because we want no one to know the depths of depravity in our family. It helps us hold our head high in public. Yet this man had not done that.
He had not treated that minor as a thing to be suppressed under the cloak of his family’s respectability.
He had courageously stood up against the wrong and even admitted to it in public…he had treated that child as a person not a thing.
That’s true courage.