Notebook

Debased

A friend has passed on some words Sara Lidman spoke on 11 November 1956, in the wake of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary. They keep ringing in my head, troublingly.

‘Time and again during these days that seem as long as entire years, one thinks: But surely this can’t be allowed to take place? Surely someone will eradicate this injustice? Must not nature itself take action against this evil? At times the state of being human is so debased that we’d sooner appeal to the clouds and the grass to show man mercy than to men. Oh, that we were reading of this barbarism in some old manual of history; that we could look up from the text and say: How cruel men were in days of old. Something like this could never happen now! But what we read is the daily paper. And we tremble for grief and shame.’