And everybody wants to see you suffer,
They know that you need the pain so much,
They throw you up a rope when you’re too high to,
Lord, you lose, lady.
Then they charge you with the Rescue Blues
-Ryan Adams, “The Rescue Blues”
Is the universe a cruel place? I don’t think so, even if it seems like that sometimes.
The universe isn’t really cruel at all.
Unfair, because it doesn’t give a damn about fairness.
Unfair, because it doesn’t really give a damn about anything at all.
It just exists. It just IS.
Cruelty is something defined by us humans. It’s a label we apply to some particular permutation of fate and chance that strikes us as horrible, hopelessly unfair. To situations like this honor killing. And it is only us, self-aware, intelligent humans who really have the capacity to be cruel as well.
It’s so easy to take what you have for granted.
A’s minor whining grated on my nerves yesterday. I got angry. I didn’t say anything, but she figured out what was going on and shut up. And we relaxed. We talked about things we liked. We talked about movies. We discussed our day. We discussed coding.
No one will ever force me to marry anyone. No one will ever force me to take up a particular job. No one will ever force me to conform to social norms. No one can. The constitution, the law, protects my rights as an individual.
It’s unbelievable how different life trajectories can be in the same country, a similar cultural heritage, within a geographical distance of little more than a hundred miles.
What if I was like that guy from Haryana? A simple dinner with my girlfriend would be a threat to my life. Talking to a girl could end in my getting beaten up with sticks and rods. A simple touch could well make me a victim to someone’s misplaced sense of honor. The constitution would do diddly-squat to protect me from that. No one could really guarantee to save me. I’d be on my own, and in a very real sense, I’d be FORCED to confirm.
It’s just chance, isn’t it?
Chance, that I get to make my own choices, be my own person, be proactive about my own happiness. Chance, that I am not condemned to die for doing those things.
I wonder what the guy felt as he lay on the ground, merciful unconsciousness ending his pain, merciful death ending the entire ordeal. Did he feel angry? Sad? Resigned? Did he dwell upon the irony of honor being preserved by taking an innocent human life? Did he feel the bitterness of being the victim in that irony? Did he savor his last moments? Or did he, perhaps spit at them, in a final act of defiance towards an uncaring universe?
I don’t know. And I’m not sure I want to know either.
Because I don’t think my mind would be able to take the strain of knowing. It just wouldn’t.