January 22, 2005

Beyond the Pale

Deep in all of us is a revulsion at certain behavior - torture,  beheadings and the physical abuse of the weak and powerless, for example.  Whether it's in our DNA or our souls, revulsion, I believe, makes us more human.  By turning away with a feeling of violent disgust at certain acts, we shun the perpetrators.  They are not recognizably part of anything with which we can identify.  They are beyond the pale, outside the bounds of acceptable and civilized behavior. 

Revulsion I think is an important instinct that's been honed by centuries of evolution.  Beyond the pale,  life is nasty, brutish and short. 

Whatever one's political inclinations, when graves are desecrated and the remains dumped on the street like so much trash, we feel revulsion.    The BBC reporter Mohammed Olad Hassan was horrified to see a large number of abandoned human skulls on the streets of  Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Young boys were playing with one skull, like a toy.   

Militias from some Islamic courts in the Somali capital dug up hundreds of graves at a colonial Italian cemetery and dumped the skeletal remains near the airport.    Some 3000 people were buried In the Italian cemetery - soldiers, traders and missionaries. 

The profanation of a silent and historical place, sacred to all civilisations, is a vile and particularly hateful act which can have no justification whatsoever," the Italian government said in a statement.

Italy controlled parts of Somalia from 1889 until it's independence in 1960. There has been no real government of any sort in the country since 1991 and  the transitional government is afraid to return from Kenya.  Without a government in place, roving gangs of militias rule the city and, as Thomas Hobbes predicted,  life indeed is nasty, brutish and short and so it seems is burial.

Posted by Jill Fallon at January 22, 2005 5:12 PM | Permalink