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George Orwell: Revenge Is Sour
cananian

George Orwell's essay, "Revenge Is Sour" seems especially relevant this week, although I'm always saddened when Orwell's writing is relevant (as it always seems to be):

[T]he whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish daydream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.

Who would not have jumped for joy, in 1940, at the thought of seeing S.S. officers kicked and humiliated? But when the thing becomes possible, it is merely pathetic and disgusting. It is said that when Mussolini's corpse was exhibited in public, an old woman drew a revolver and fired five shots into it, exclaiming, 'Those are for my five sons!' It is the kind of story that the newspapers make up, but it might be true. I wonder how much satisfaction she got out of those five shots, which, doubtless, she had dreamed years earlier of firing. The condition of her being able to get close enough to Mussolini to shoot at him was that he should be a corpse.

The rest of the essay is worth reading. It ends with,

...[H]e would probably have been scandalized at the idea of giving coffee to a 'Boche' [German]. But his feelings, he told me, had undergone a change at the sight of ce pauvre mort beside the bridge: it had suddenly brought home to him the meaning of war. And yet, if we had happened to enter the town by another route, he might have been spared the experience of seeing one corpse out of the--perhaps--twenty million that the war has produced.
Courtesy of Christopher Hitchens in Slate.

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