When Violence is Right
In a remote forest there was a tribe of apes that had grown large and burgeoning. It was mainly due to the overabundance of fruit in a mango grove along a certain fresh water river.
They had everything there that they needed to survive and thrive. This is also why a tribe of humans settled along the same strip of land.
They lived in harmony until the apes grew tired of the food their land freely offered them.
At first the attacks were few and spread out over several years. But eventually the apes assaulted the human’s village daily. Children were being taken away. The elderly were battered and the strong men could not overpower them. And young women were being taken by the male apes.
The apes seemed to crave their new food source obsessively and it was even reported several times that they were feeding the human meat to their young.
The humans said they could see their leather-wrapped eyes had changed. They were no longer co-inhabitants. The apes had tasted human blood.
The human village was not a violent village. Besides fishing and the reluctant slaughter of boars when they attacked, they lived off of the plants the jungle provided.
But there was a man different from all the rest- who seemed built to be a warrior, when all others were simply peaceful gatherers. But he was different in another way. The strongest and by far the tallest among the humans had also been a mute since birth. And he seemed to sense things about the jungle the other humans didn’t. He was a head taller than any other man, could clear a path with a machete twice as fast as any other man, and he seemed to be able to sense when the apes would attack. He was more capable and powerful than the other men but he was a loner. He had not married like the rest. He wandered into the jungle alone for days at a time and would come back when he sensed restlessness among the apes.
But whenever he came home, he did not tell stories with the other men around the campfire. He spent hours just playing with his 5-year old niece. Her giggling, unassuming playfulness seemed to be the only thing that could bring a smile to his face.
The attacks grew worse so the leaders convened. They realized that although apes had enough food to live they were still transgressing the humans. As if their history in the land and the providence of its bounty gave them permission to take new things. But the humans didn’t know what to do because although they wanted to live in peace, the apes seemed to have made an irreversible change. Even if they had not all attacked the humans, they had all tasted the human blood and even the young ones seemed to desire it. The humans could see no turning around.
One night as the leaders talked the mute warrior stood at the back of the room. They could come to no solutions as a leadership.
Nobody looked at the mute warrior because they knew he preferred to only observe, but every man in the room knew that only the mute warrior would know what to do when the time came. None of them felt confident they could fight off the apes, but maybe he did.
Fear gripped the entire village. Sleep was haunted by fear. Each warrior slept near the door of his hut with one eye open.
But a few days later, the mute warrior’s niece was taken away from the very next room. He woke the moment the walls shook and he got to her room just as he saw the corrugated metal roof slap back into place.
The warrior pursued them through the jungle. The ape fled with her, dragging her by the ankle. Her body went limp at the first fall and she quickly felt no more pain.
The whole town woke and many of the warriors set out after them with fishing spears to do their best to help. They knew the moment had come and the mute warrior had simply done what he knew needed to be done.
By the end of the week an estimated 230 apes had been slaughtered. The majority of them had been killed by the mute warrior. As far as people could tell, the entire tribe of the apes that had gained a taste for human blood had been tracked down and eliminated.
The story of this spread down-river to the closest town, and then to the nearest globalized city.
Within two months an animal rights organization arrived, investigated, and declared it a barbaric disaster. Sanctions were put on the tribe, and the land was reclaimed by the government so that apes could repopulate it. The human tribe was striped and stained with the colors of being hated, and seen as “inhumane, barbaric, and evil” by every peace-lover and every animal-lover across the civilized world. At least all of the ones on Instagram.
Many of the men who had helped to slaughter the apes were hit with monetary punitive measures larger than they could repay. (They had been convicted of a violation of some obscure nation-wide animal preservation law.) But the mute warrior was imprisoned and when his refusal to talk was seen as defiant he was put in solitary confinement and his public reputation was solidified.
But that was just as well to the mute warrior. All he had ever wanted for his people was to keep them safe and unafraid. And that had been accomplished. And he hadn't much cared for the company of anybody else, other than his little niece the apes took from him
I wonder if, just like with many things, we’ve labeled violence as intrinsically right or wrong, without considering the reason for which one is doing it.
We see violence in the Bible so sometimes we are tempted to discount those parts of it. but perhaps we don’t know god’s reasons for doing what he does.
Raw Spoon, 2-11-16