I ask myself this sometimes when I see, hear, or read of certain things--things that make me tremble and quake at their contemplation. They make me want to go into a corner in a dark room, curl up, and lie their forever, for a creation in which such things could take place is not one in which I would like to live. They make me want to scream and cry out to the heavens until my throat is raw and my voice as gone, they make me want to take a knife and slowly, methodically cut off slices of my flesh.

"How could such things be?" I wonder.

They make me doubt man.

When we walk through the day, most of us feel fairly secure--as though no mad killers are going to lunge at us with knife in hand, as though no terrorist is going to cause our place of work or school to explode, as though a friend or love will not reasonlessly pluck our heart from our chest and devour it whole.

Sometimes, we pretend, and it is this pretense that allows us not to spontaneously burst into tears and eat ashes while lamenting for all creation. We pretend that man is, or at least the men around us are, for the most part, fine and good at heart. We pretend that in all death, there is the creation of life, and therefore no ending can truly be bad. We pretend that a fate of stardust is one of beauty, or that immortality can lie in memory.

Or, alternatively, sometimes simply allow ourselves to not fathom that which is around us: on the news, a number is quoted, and that number is the prodigious magnitude of children who have died because they and their families lacked the few dollars it would have cost to become immunized to some ancient, wholly preventable disease. But to us, that number doesn't represent the number of corpses that lie in a ditch across the sea; it is just a number. A string of digits. Nigh meaningless. And when someone tells us of Armenians butchered in World War I or hell in Rwanda, those stories mean absolutely nothing because they are completely ineffable--we allow them to be. For us to live, they must be.

And, sometimes, to avoid confronting this unconfrontable, the most horrible thing of all, the most terrible thing I can think of occurs: we become desensitized. A man starving on the street corner: nothing over which a tear must be shed; there are thousands of others as he is. So what if he dies? So many others die, we cannot shed tears and change for all of them, so why should we offer any to one of them? I see a clip on the news of a massacre in some country I have never heard of, and I have seen a hundred such clips in days gone by. So what if a hundred thousand more men, women, and children are murdered before my eyes because they worship the wrong god or have the wrong skin color? A hundred thousand others died as such not a handful of years ago. It happens all the time; why should any man care?

The first is necessary, at times. The second is horrible, for it prevents the learning of lessons so that such things should never again take place. The last makes me shiver, for, in that case, life quickly becomes as worthless as dust, and death means naught. So that which was should never be again, all men should sometimes wonder, "How could this happen?" at what they see.

It seems like things that evoke such feelings are almost random. Reading of nine Israelis murdered in Munich. Recalling of 10 million slaughtered a little past two score years ago, and hearing of someone asking why we must continually think back to such events. Remembering of how stupid and terrible I am that I did not say goodbye to a friend of mine when I moved away, and thinking of how I shall never see him again.

Creation makes me marvel; Creation makes me quake.

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