Stiletto and wheels Stiletto title Sole to sole Stiletto

STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.

WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
ARTS - October 2009
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I went to see a new play at The National Theatre this weekend – Our Class by Tadeusz Slobodzianek. As a mechanism to illustrate his themes, the playwright sketched out the lives of a group of classmates, who were either perpetrator or victim in the massacre of the entire Jewish community in the Polish village of Jedwabne in 1941. Simply staged, well acted, the first half was dramatically powerful, the second half less so but interesting, if a little long.

It was the universal nature of the themes that resonated most with me, especially:

  • the human propensity to persecute those who are ‘different’.
  • how persecution transmutes frighteningly to torture and murder, even amongst friends and neighbours.
  • the collusions that often arise between perpetrator/victim.
  • the constant incidence of persecution in human history.

I have always wanted to believe that persecution is based on ignorance and fear, if not, that it is due to aberrant demonic individuals, themselves different from us - from me and you.

Sadly, there is just too much evidence to the contrary – intelligent, sane individuals seem as prone as anyone else to being caught up in generic acts of violence based on difference or personal interest. Too many of those involved are 'just like us' for us to take comfort in thinking ourselves superior. But, are we all really capable of torturing and killing our neighbours and friends?

I do not want to believe so and yet, seeing the brutality evident in prejudice around the world, the discrimination against people like Fiona Pilkington, I am depressed.

In our ‘civilised society’ to see irrational persecution expressed through extreme violence is shocking, as is our shrugged acceptance of it. Is there any hope that we will ever develop a communal propensity to be open-minded, tolerant and kind to all – even those we perceive as different?

global prejudice
Notes from author’s journal:
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