Humanity commonly distances itself from the inhumanity of the past. Often this distancing occurs through historical rewrites or defining the circumstances that gave rise to past tragedies as unique and not repeatable. In this fashion we can prevent the discomfort of struggling with issues of the past such as American slavery, Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s gulags, Japan’s brutal occupation of Manchuria.
Such actions are in the past we reason and from a different time. Yet, all inhumanity is the result of humanity – and has the human condition changed that significantly since the mid-19th century? Genocide in Darfur, global human trafficking, Talibanic degradation of women in Afghanistan, religious persecution in China and violence in American streets.
Through history man has developed a remarkable ability to reside alongside evil, rationalize its presence and at times participate in its aims. Typically, the beginnings of such rationalization are found in efforts to dehumanize the victim of evil and then as a fall back argument: actually argue that the evil acts are of a benefit to the victim.
Such rationalization, however, simply provides a false comfort for it fails to take into account the human condition