Natural Violence

“Only look about you: blood is being spilt in streams, and in the merriest way, as though it were champagne. […] And what is it that civilisation softens in us? […] And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed. […] In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty. In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper. Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever. Which is worse? Decide that for yourselves.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “Notes from Underground”.

The day is almost over and I am struck by despair that is now known to me. I haven’t written any post yet, I have none saved for a moment like this, and, what is worse, I do not have the motivation to write. However, write I must. As a friend of mine always says (referring to the habit of running every day): when it is hard, when there is no mood, when all you want is not doing it is precisely the moment when you most should do it — only then is there true merit. And so I force myself to write. But all that comes to my mind is the absurd violence we live in, and every word I write bothers me.

I just slept about five hours during most of the afternoon. I hate sleeping during the day, but today it was inevitable. The reason is that work yesterday, which should have lasted fourteen hours, lasted thirty-six. And I’m getting old.

We have been called on a mission that I can not speak of in detail. But what matters is that it involved trying to catch a gang of heavily armed criminals who has been operating in a city near Rio. The problem is that this place is known as a paradisiac destination for those who like to enjoy the peace of a small city. I haven’t been to that region for many years, and today, as I drove semi-sonabulating back home early in the morning, I was amazed by the beauty of the place. However, if the mission had been successful, that same place would have dawned covered with blood and corpses — perhaps even my own.

I am accustomed to violence, at least to some extent. But today, the absurdity of what we tried to do yesterday (or rather, of what we tried to prevent) joins the absurdity of what happened a few days in Rio to leave me with a bitter taste in the mouth. In a “domestic terrorism” event, two youths stormed into a school and shot and killed eight innocent people, including students and staff, before killing themselves. What is there to talk about an act of barbarism like that? A lot. But, out of sheer weakness, today I will talk very little.

When we read history, we see endless atrocities. When we read the newspaper, we see the same thing. When I look at my past, I see deaths and more deaths. In a rational effort of understanding, we try to integrate the various particular events that we perceive in an attempt to abstract their differences and focus on their similarities — it is the latter that will give us the essence of what we see and therefore bring us closer to an appropriate description of reality. What, then, is the essence that unites all that I see around me with all I see within me?

The nature of man.

I look anxiously forward to the clarity of the morning — when it is much easier for us to lie — for today the black of the night only brings me shame.

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