I’m generally pretty good about hating on the human race, by which I mean I generally hate the human race and am pretty good at it. But in light of recent research on my part, I feel I need to give us some credit. It’s hard to say this is the pinnacle of civilization, but…
A lyric in a song made a reference to “Catherine wheel” and I felt inclined to find out what it was all about. It turns out to be a torture device. Not a particularly clever one, but rather grotesque. I’m not sure why the wheel was needed, but the technique employed was essentially breaking all the victim’s bones then letting them die on their own.
Of course now that I knew about this particular torture device, it would be a disservice to not understand it in context of other torture devices in use at the time. So I had a lovely time of reading and understanding many different methodologies for punishing people. Sounds like fun, huh?
It made me wonder how it must have been to live in that age. Just like now, you have your rich and elite who can get away with most everything, and there’s probably a pretty narrow “middle-class”, who garner some respect and a small sphere of influence in their region. But then there’s the working class, and working might be a generous term.
The thing that strikes me is that physical torture was entertainment to the common people in those times. And it might have been a perpetual worry that they might be an entertainer some day. Could they ever have imagined what the world would be like now? Living back then, could you even visualize cities that were clean, buildings like malls and office complexes that were kept sparkling all the time? Paved roads, lit-up city streets, safe, secure houses? The pessimist in me is right there with you. “Clean cities?” “safe houses?” But let’s all think in relative terms, here.
Our current time would surely seem like literally heaven to them. Of course, they don’t understand anything modern, so it would all be “magic” to them. And how could they comprehend a civilization that didn’t employ torture as a standard practice (except for those rich and elite previously mentioned)?
So, looking around, yeah, we have a lot of stupid people. We have some bad people that do some pretty bad things on a local level and some at a global level. We have cases where people’s rights are violated by people in power. But at least we don’t have rotting corpses hanging in cages in our cities, or exhibitions of torture downtown. We don’t have to fear someone coming to town and randomly accusing people of heresy and torturing them for show.
I think short-term things look bleak, but long-term – like not in my lifetime – things should continue trending toward a global social structure. Currently, we define ourselves by race, nationality, and religion. Nationalism is in its death throes as the Internet allows global communication. Nations have less power to convince their populace that outsiders are “evil”. The more we communicate disconnectedly, the less race will be a concern. You could have years of partnership and communication history with a person and never know he or she is of a race you dislike. That proves the ridiculousness of racism. Religion? That’s going to take some work, but at least the religious leaders don’t have the power they used to, so maybe in time, we can work something out.