I chose to write a story instead of describing the Mars Mira (Peace March) we endured this past weekend, partly because others will likely do a better job than myself in their descriptions and partly because the experience inspired these thoughts and I wish to use these blogs as a creative space to express my true thoughts and feelings.
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” – Primo Levi (Holocaust survivor)
Once upon a time there was a very old and beautiful country. In the country lived both blue people and red people. The blue and red people had been sharing this country for many, many years and besides their skin color they had everything in common. They roamed the same rolling green hills, they farmed the same fertile ground, they drank from the same turquoise colored streams. These were happy days and it seemed they would last forever. But, one day, a blue person looked down at themselves and thought, “how beautiful my skin is, it is so cool and calming but how dreadful that red skin is, it is so harsh and alarming, what an eye sore it is to see those red people everyday.” This blue person shared their feelings with other blue people and they thought “why yes, our blue skin is rather nice.” Blue people then started making fun of red people. The red people patted their crying children and just smiled at the blue people when they told their jokes and thought, “Let them have their fun, they are only jokes, this will pass.” However, the jokes kept getting harsher and now children were coming home, not only crying, but with bloody noses and broken arms. Adults were even starting to fight. One night, there was a very bad fight and a blue person got so mad that they killed the red person they were fighting. The country became very tense. The red people got very angry and the blue people very defensive. In fear of red people’s retaliation the blue people started organizing in secret, they gathered up all of the weapons in the country and made plans to keep themselves safe from the red people. Meanwhile the red people huffed and puffed, excluded from all blue people circles, and unaware of the blue people’s actions. Slowly, blue people started arresting red people, with excuses of alleged violence or vandalism. As the arrests increased the red people started to get scared, they knew it was wrong but still they did nothing. Most did not fight, most did not run, they kept their families close, and again, waited for it to pass. The blue people were getting away with arresting so many red people that they stopped giving excuses and started arresting red people without warning or explanation. All the arrested red people never returned to their homes and families, they were forced to work to death or were killed outright. At first all of this was done subtly but over time the emboldened blue people started doing it out in the open. The blue people thought, “how nice it is to get these criminals off the street and how nice it is to see less red people in our towns, let’s try to get the rest of them out!” Red people were no longer arrested in twos and threes but rounded up by the dozens. Red people’s homes were destroyed, their possessions were looted, their families were ripped apart, all the red people who was too old, young, injured, or sick to walk and anyone who protested was killed in broad daylight in front of everyone. All the rest were herded into small camps and forced to stay there living on top of each other in their own filth with little food or water. The rolling green hills were now full of graves, the fertile ground was now littered with bodies, the turquoise streams were now red with blood. For the red people, it is as if they simply blinked and this was what their country had become. It was so much worse than any of them had predicted, but it was too late to fight, the blue people had all the weapons, it was too late to run, the blue people surrounded them. Now, there was nothing left for them to do but wait as they always had. Meanwhile the blue people thought, “it is so nice to have those red people out of our towns but what a nuisance those camps are, so smelly, such an eye sore in our pretty country, wouldn’t it be nice if they just didn’t exist?”
My story of blue and red people is, of course, an oversimplification of the process that leads to mass killings and is in no way supposed to capture the exact details of the Srebrenica genocide or any other specific mass killing, it is fiction. However, sometimes I believe simplicity and fantastical stories are the best way to express the complicated and serious topics of genocide and war, especially for those lucky enough to go through life without ever experiencing them.