We are such smug human beings when it comes to humane pretenses yet we live in a world rife with man's inhumanity to man. Sadly, inhumanity is very much alive in the Global Village -- always has been and unfortunately always will be as one generation passes to the next.
Interestingly, the phrase "man's inhumanity to man" is first documented in a poem written by Robert Burns in 1784. According to some sources it is possible that Burns reworded a similar quote from Samuel von Pufendorf who in 1673 wrote, "More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature's causes."
Last month we listened and read with horror the reports coming out of a hearing into the abuse suffered by First Nations children in residential schools operated by numerous church organizations in Canada. Just yesterday Allan Thompson wrote a piece in the Toronto Star about his father who was among tens of thousands of children from Britain who were unceremoniously shipped to Canada a century ago through a barbaric child labour scheme. My late wife's grandmother was in fact one of the "Home Children" included in the dreadful and poorly supervised migration movement at the beginning of the last century.
Today, too, we continue to live with the stigma of racial discrimination of all kinds. Terrorism
rears its ugly head all over the world and is a constant threat even in this peace-loving land of ours.
Almost daily we hear about hostage-taking incidents where individuals are held captive, brainwashed and tortured over a long period of time. The motivation very often is dominance or vengeance-based, sexual, or simply the work of a deranged mind.
It is not a stretch to suggest that over the centuries, nothing has caused more pain and suffering for mankind than man himself. Through war, hate crimes, and random acts of violence, the fear of the different and unknown has presented itself in human nature. The novel Night, the movie Schindler’s List and the article A Tortured Legacy are all examples of this. Through the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Germans, there is no clearer example of man’s inhumanity to man. The holocaust was far more than a tragedy; it is something you simply cannot describe with words. The sheer evil and hate that took place in the 1940’s really exemplifies what man can be like when he’s at his weakest and lowest point of existence. Through the merciless slaughtering and torturing of the Jewish people, the Germans showed to the whole world what it’s like to be inhuman; to be animalistic.
Wars in particular expose man's ultimate inhumanity to man. Wars are an innate but absolute part of human nature. Often fought by religious factions, wars reflect man's basest instincts, untamed by rationality.
We frequently hear the question asked: "Why does God allow these things to happen?" Well, I've got news! God may have created humanity, but He did not create inhumanity any more than He can control it. Generally speaking, inhumanity is a condition of a misguided human heart that more often than not, beats within an otherwise well-intended but ignorant body. We pay lip service to a humane society yet we stoop to being blindly inhumane when it suits certain perceived needs.
Man's inhumanity to man is the price we all pay for being short-sighted and agenda-driven by nature. And we continually have to make apologies while going back to clean up the mess that has been left behind. Makes you think, does it not?
We share the shame!