Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#16 – Behind the Mask – Tony
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more”
– Anne Frank (Annefrank.com, 2017)
Understanding why humans are so cruel to each other and to animals is a hard thing to do. Tony feels sad at the cruelty around us.
This isn’t a new thing. Throughout time man has referred to his enemies as subhuman. Slave owners considered their slaves to be less than human and treated them very cruelly. And in more recent times, Nazis referred to Jews as ‘rats’ and Hutus involved with the genocide in Rwanda called the Tutsis ‘cockroaches’. In each case, these people were treated very cruelly.
In the opening statement of the 1946 Nuremberg doctors’ trial, principal prosecutor Telford Taylor said:
“The defendants in this case are charged with murders, tortures, and other atrocities committed in the name of medical science. The victims of these crimes are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. A handful only are still alive; a few of the survivors will appear in this courtroom. But most of these miserable victims were slaughtered outright or died in the course of the tortures to which they were subjected.
For the most part they are nameless dead. To their murderers, these wretched people were not individuals at all. They came in wholesale lots and were treated worse than animals.”
– Telford Taylor (Ushmm.org, 2017)
In this trial, 20 doctors and 3 administrators stood accused of heinous war crimes. Hitler’s euthanasia program had been carried out by them. Around 200,000 mentally and physically handicapped people were declared unfit to live under the program (and by these doctors) and were killed in the infamous gas chambers. Some of the doctors carried out hideous and cruel medical experiments on thousands of prisoners (including children).
It doesn’t stop there, Tony chatted about his feelings concerning animal cruelty. We hear stories most weeks about animals being abandoned, injured or mistreated. Some people do not appear to realise that what they are doing is cruel – they may have experienced animal cruelty committed by older family members when they were children and think that it is normal. It is sad that in the world today, this still goes on.
Talking to Tony, he hides his frustrations and feelings about this behind his masks. Even though he declared that he is ‘unsure about humans’, he still treats everyone with the utmost respect and courtesy. Tony’s mask made me realise that sometimes we hide behind things that we have no control over, yet affect us every day.
Tony and I had a long chat about how these acts of cruelty affect how we face others knowing that it goes on. I hope for the sake of humanity that we get our act together soon and start treating other humans and animals respectfully. Although if history is anything to go by, we have an uphill climb ahead of us.
Annefrank.com. (2017). Diary Excerpts. [online] Available at: https://annefrank.com/about-anne-frank/diary-excerpts/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].
Ushmm.org. (2017). Opening Statement — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. [online] Available at: https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/special-focus/doctors-trial/opening-statement [Accessed 16 Nov. 2017].