Constance, I recently read something online that perturbed me greatly.
“I firmly believe what someone in one of the posts above has said- a human being can never be wholesome again after an experience of this sort. My grandfather, a resilient, hard-working man who faced adversity and difficult migrations more times than most, was never truly whole; he was bitter, angry, mad. He succeeded in life by cheating and deceiving others much like what had been done to him. He was not a caring husband or father and left many questions unanswered. I sometimes wonder if one can really cleanse oneself of evil. In the words of Primo Levi’s ‘Shema’…
Consider that such horrors have been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them in your hearts
when you lounge in your house,
when you walk outside,
when you go to bed,
when you rise.
Repeat them to your children,
or may your house crumble
and disease render you helpless
so that even your offspring avert their faces from you.”
…and yet. And yet…REALLY?
Is it true that one can never be whole after an experience of this sort? A person was bitter, angry, mad, and “succeeded” in life by doing to others what was done to him.
Here is what is disturbing: what this person chose to do, based on what happened, is the root of the bitterness, anger and madness.
There is never a point where we cease to be culpable for what we choose…because we are always choosers.
Otherwise, explain to me how other human beings who suffered identical horrors and worse emerged and became whole again and wholesome in life…Victor Frankl, Corrie Ten Boom are two that come to mind.
Otherwise, here is your alternative:
At what point do you cease to be responsible? Like for instance, you are beaten up in the body, but not hit in the face…are you culpable for what you choose, or are you now not responsible, being beyond the pale of wholesomeness?
If you suffer the loss of a parent but not a child, does that make you not responsible? Or more responsible?
It’s a sliding scale and no one knows where to draw the line…because the fact is there is no line!
There is only you…and your choice in who you want to be, live to be.
I am gonna tell you sumfin: no one can sully me by doing evil to me. Oh, they can beat me, they can rape me, they can hurt me with words…but I am a strong tower inviolate, so long as I know that I am a chooser and this is mine forever.
Do not seduce yourself with some rinky dinky scale of wrong, and pick a point somewhere on it that says “on this side of the scale, I am responsible, but because of these other things, I am no longer responsible because I cannot ever cleanse myself of evil”…
…cleanse yourself, no…but be cleansed? Yes.
Are we not humans? Are we not free? Even midst the horrors shall we sing of our love.
PS: My dear Dani over at Blooming Spiders writes an article about a person who experienced lots of hard and horrible things, and what happened as a result of choices: made and unmade. Go check her out…you won’t be sorry!