Genocide and the holocaust are evils against the society that ultimately wrong in the eyes of both the law and society. The measurement and degree of these evils has always been a puzzle and still remain the same. The fact that the punishment awarded to perpetrators of this evil is not adequate and appropriate is another issue that arises with the discussion of these two acts. Also, the aspect of one being a greater evil than the other cannot be determined effectively. The common item with these two evils is that they undermine human life. This essay will focus and analyze the topic genocide and holocaust in the book a common humanity by Raimond Gaita. Also, this topic relates to the concept of human beings as infinitely precious.
Human beings are precious, and so are their lives. The act of taking human life merciless is evil, worse is the act of conducting mass killings. In this chapter, gait has shown that human life is precious. First, the chapter classifies genocide and holocaust as evils against morality and the law. It further pushes to say that the law may be inadequate and disappointing in providing justice to individuals responsible for holocaust and genocide.
The taking of people’s life is frightening, and many cannot understand those who perform these acts. ‘Many people who were present at Eichmann’s trial…their imaginations were defeated by the effort to put together this man. This demonstrates how people get puzzled with people who end numerous lives that are precious. The preciousness of life cannot be understood by those who have not suffered but rather by the victims of the holocaust or genocide acts.
The strengths of this chapter covering the concept are of two kinds. First, the chapter has covered the aspect of the victim along with the society. The chapter portrays the feeling of victims upon the destruction of their lives and those of the society. He says that only the victims can fathom the reality of the evil of holocaust. Second, the chapter has used numerous examples such as the story on Charles to show the extent of suffering that victims undergo. This has increasingly contributed to the reader having a wider understanding the infinite preciousness of life.
One weakness that comes up in this chapter is the treatment of life by the law. The chapter has shown the inadequate capability of law to punish perpetrators of evil appropriately. Also, the inability of law to distinguish what is moral and what is written law. The writer portrays the law as not being entirely sure about the concept of human beings being infinitely precious. As the law seems, hesitant to offer and give a verdict. The second weakness in the chapter is where the chapter points out that god watches as all the evil happen in the world and human life becomes destroyed. ‘The problem…there could be a god, who is omnipresent, omnipotent and good-is morally suspect’.
Gaita has presented a contradiction in this chapter on which evil is greater between genocide and holocaust. A clear conclusion has not been drawn. Though he argues that we should not classify whichever of the two is of a greater evil, it would have been better had he provided a conclusion. This would maybe give an insight on the measurement of a human being’s life and its preciousness.
The punishment awarded to genocide and holocaust perpetrators is not adequate, but it would be better if these people experienced the harm they inflict on others. Awarding a death penalty may be seen as an easy escape route for the likes of Ivan the terrible and Eichmann as compared to the crimes committed. This is because the taking of a human being’s life is brutal and should not be condoned.