By David Worboys •
Updated: 06 Jul 2023 • 10:12
MINSK, BELARUS - AUGUST 27: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a news conference August 26, 2014 in Minsk, Belarus. Putin and President Poroshenko of Ukraine met with their Belarussian and Kazakhstan counterparts and European Union officials amid heightened tensions over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The separatist war has prompted the United States and EU to slap sanctions on Russia, to which Moscow has retaliated. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Two recent trials in the UK have reminded us of the most appalling depths to which the human being can sink. Two men, Kyle Bevan and Stephen Boden have each been found guilty of the most horrific torture and murder of a defenceless infant under their care. The details of the prolonged cruelty, suffering and the injuries inflicted are too terrible for me to describe here.
The human being is incomparably the most remarkable and complicated of all creations. What humans have achieved is remarkable: the fire, the wheel, the automobile, the computer, Hawkeye, DNA, Artificial Intelligence …. We have produced inventions, works of art, scientific discoveries and acts of incredible kindness and courage. And yet the species is deeply flawed. Humans have also been the cause of neglect of the planet and cruelty to each other and other species.
If we can choose between right and wrong, why would we opt for the latter? Why do not all of us love our neighbour? Is it simply too difficult for us to identify with other people?
All of us are occasionally negligent, thoughtless and selfish. We commit wrongs, ranging from trivial lapses to the most unimaginable horrors. We may simply drop litter or jump the queue, so inconveniencing others. But some of us act as hooligans at events or aboard aircraft, upsetting people around us. Others cheat the vulnerable out of their savings – and damage or steal their property. While rape, torture and blackmail are on an even higher level of evil, it is murder that is regarded as the ultimate crime – the ultimate sin. And there are degrees of murder.
It starts with the murder of one person as an over-reaction to provocation or self-defence. Next is a totally unprovoked single murder. Then, a deliberate premeditated killing which may involve torture. It is worse if the victim is a child with its life ahead of it. And what about one´s own child, entrusted to its parent or guardian for love, protection and nourishment? The two men mentioned above have committed the most dreadful crime imaginable against a single person. And shown no remorse.
And then there are multiple killings. The murder of an entire family by a stranger or a relative; a grudge shooting in a school or other public place; serial killings; a terrorist attack.
Finally, we come to war. There are always wars somewhere in the world but the one that concerns us here in Europe is Russia´s invasion of Ukraine. The relentless destruction of a country and its peaceful way of life; the murder of thousands of its innocent civilian inhabitants and its soldiers. There are conventions in war but these are commonly disregarded. Anything is fair game – schools, hospitals, theatres, the energy grid and the water supply. And for what? For the temporary gratification of a deranged autocrat.
This war is tantamount to the greatest of all evils. Genocide.
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