Trigger warning: this piece is dark, real dark. Bleak as fuck. There’s mention of all sorts of truly horrific stuff. Read at your own peril.
As I’m writing this, the sun is coming up in Ganggye, North Korea. Government scientists are getting ready to go to work at a military base.
There, at the behest of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, they will test chemical weapons on children with mental and physical disabilities.
If you’re reading this over a morning coffee, the experiments are taking place right now. Can you feel it? There goes one—a child with Down’s syndrome, punished by the random nature of genetics, cursed by the entirely natural phenomena of being born with an extra chromosome, pried from the arms of her desperate mother, loser in the cruel and morally ambivalent lottery of birth.
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See her now, her tiny body, shackled to a gurney. She’s probably smiling—the beauty of Down’s is that those with the syndrome are unable to comprehend or grasp man’s true capacity for evil, so she is likely unaware of the gruesome fate that awaits. Some consolation.
Now the gas (chlorine, mustard, sarin, take your pick—that twisted maniacal Kim fuck makes his scientists test them all) is smothering her nasal passage, choking in her throat, burning her chest, melting her lungs. Her small frame writhes in agony.
She takes a while to die—the gas doesn’t kill her directly. Instead, she drowns in her own blood and mucus.
The scientists record their observations.
That girl was real. She existed, she was alive, and she had a name, even if no-one will ever learn it—I don’t know what it was, and never will. But the tragic banality of her short life and the evil that took it is something we can learn from. Evil is so easy it’s almost boring.
And as bad as that all is, don’t forget for a second that me and you and everyone else in the world is consciously perpetrating an equivalent evil: we know this is happening. We have the power to stop it. But we do nothing.
And personally I’m terrified of what would happen if we did liberate these people. When (if?) the people of North Korea escape the treacherous grip of the Kim dynasty, we will have a lot to answer for. They will learn about the outside world, how everything they’d ever been told about it was a lie. They will plead with us, demand an explanation.
And we will have no response—at least I know I won’t. I’m not sure we as a species are yet capable of reckoning with the darkness at the heart of our collective soul, but I’m certain we wouldn’t be ready even if we could.
And that’s just one example in one country at one point in time: consider the desperate plight of Aylan, the dead Syrian baby on the beach and the millions of faceless others who have died and will continue to do so because we allow Bashar al-Assad to execute a campaign of hatred and extermination (incidentally he has also used, and continues to use, chemical weapons on his own people).
Consider the fact that Vladimir Putin, a man who almost certainly murdered people in his time at the KGB, is conducting a proxy war on the helpless people of the Ukraine while the NATO alliance stands by and watches from afar.
After the Germans first used mustard gas in World War I, we promised we’d never allow chemical weapons to be deployed in combat. After Hitler exterminated millions of his own citizens (recall that he also targeted humans with disabilities), we said we’d never let it happen again. After our species narrowly avoided committing collective suicide in 1945, we vowed that if any superpower attacked a defenseless neighbour, our allies, then it was an attack on us all.
And yet here we are.
Consider the hatred shown to women, to homosexuals, to those born in a different geographical location, to those different to us, a hatred that doesn’t seem to have a beginning or an end. Consider the rape and domestic abuse and violence and hurt that we have always inflicted on each other.
Consider the depressing reality that we are all descended from ancestors who were barbaric as fuck, and for most of its existence homo sapiens has had no conception of consent, which means that me and you and everyone else is the product of rape.
Consider the fact we had the idea to create a bomb so powerful it vaporizes everything in its path. Then consider the inexcusable and unavoidable truth that we dropped two of them on cities which were home to millions of innocent human beings.
Consider the fucking lobster. Basically, I’m saying that man’s capacity for evil is unlimited.
And you might say that there is less war today than there has ever been in human history, and that would be true, but I’m not sure that’s something to crow about it. Remember North Korea? Not a state of affairs to be proud of.
Cam is happy to be proven wrong about all of the above—send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you disagree.