ethel’s words

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Big humans beat up on little humans; fist them, kick them, whip them. Yet the little humans still want to live; even with their broken ribs and fractured arms and bruises all over and hunger inside. One day they escape for a beautiful hour; find a way into the sunshine, and the warmth of it kisses the flesh where the lash cut through. And it is good to be alive, to feel the sun and for a brief time to forget terror.

And the same it is, with the old man on the park bench, fearful of police, but luxuriating in the warmth of the sun, recounting his years of labor, rubbing his arthritic hands: estimates his time, treasuring life the more as it dwindles into remnant expectation; as memories fall and fail, there is little laughter, but the sun is sweet.


And there was a man, a prisoner in England, a man deemed to be like Evil Incarnate, oh, that wicked man did something terrible.

So, decade after decade, in a dungeon, he was kept alive, barely: not allowed books to read, not allowed paper and pen to write, not allowed to see sky or flight of bird nor to hear birdsong nor to smell hyacinths.

He could have, maybe, chewed into his wrist to cause bleeding and death. But he went on living, a shell holding a frail life-system, until, at last, his life flickered out.

What did humanity gain by inflicting that cruel punishment?

The horror is that humanity DID gain something: smug satisfaction to see agony and anguish suffered by a fallen brother.

Ethel C. Hale