The world was a terrible place, cruel, pitiless, dark as a bad dream. Not a good place to live. Only in books could you find pity, comfort, happiness – and love. Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.
People talk sometimes of ‘bestial’ cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beast; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically, so artfully cruel.
We have probably all seen teachers who would pick a student up by the scruff of the neck for saying ‘Shit,’ but who would walk by without a word when overhearing that same student taunting a classmate, calling him a ‘fag.’ It is often easier not to intervene – even when there is a clear-cut victim. It’s out in the hall. It isn’t our business. It isn’t our problem.
But our inactions, like our actions, define who we are and what are true values are.
I know what I’m talking about, Alecto! When I think of Jud, I think of the times he wanted to be a coal miner, the times he took Wendy and me sailing in the harbour, the times he showed me how to play soccer, but I forgot all the bullying and I’ll never understand why. And now you ask me, you ask me what happened once we were in high school. You said you didn’t understand what having a family was like, so ask me!
Christine did not live, or love, as most people do. She lived boundlessly, as generous as she could be cruel, prepared to give her life at any moment for a worthy cause, but rarely sparing a thought for the many casualties that fell in her wake.
10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and the remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.
There is an undercurrent of savagery in the human psyche. Anyone who forgets this and doesn’t guard against it, risks being swept away by it.
Remorse shows the difference between a cruel person and one that is not.
Soft feathers cannot make a cruel bird kind
The world was simply too cruel; how could I survive?