Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Five Worst Things to Say to Someone Who Is Committing Genocide

When someone is committing genocide, what should you do?

Genocide happens everywhere in the world throughout human history – in colonial America, Europe, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Armenia, Bosnia, Rwanda, etc. etc. Historians, ethicists, priests have been trying to figure out what's the right thing to say to someone who is committing genocide or has recently done it.

At ad hoc trials and international criminal courts, finding the right words to express yourself can be tough. But here’s what NOT to say:

"You're breaking the law!" A useless declaration, as the person doing the genocide is not breaking the law, at least from their perspective. The law is a set of written codes of conduct that govern behavior. If the person committing genocide doesn’t agree to it, what good is reminding them?

"How can you do such a thing?" Questioning the depravity of human intent and action is like demanding water to justify being wet. They are committing genocide because they are human, and some humans will do unbelievably horrible things when given the chance.

"There is no God." Once again, it’s a matter of perspective. To the person committing genocide, God probably told them to do it. So who’s right? Only the priest or philosopher knows.

"You’re a Monster! Burn in Hell, you murderer!" More useless declarations. Yelling at a perpetrator of genocide and calling them names won’t help. After a while, they will tune you out or harden their stance that you are merely one of the weak, mewling scum that have no right to judge them.

"Can I help?" Don’t try to steal focus. By asking to participate, you’ll be taking credit away from them, probably causing them to want to commit more genocide. They’ll probably want to include you in their insane rampage, or they may decide that you are one of those who need to go next. Besides, asking someone to help them commit genocide is weird and wrong...what kind of person are you?

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