Orwell’s “A Hanging”

Orwell’s “A Hanging”

A time to reflect upon the value of a human life; to watch a man’s life taken from him, at the order of someone not even of one’s own country, leaving a man with now unattainable promise, lying in the dirt. One must feel at least a twinge of guilt on such occasions. To assume a superiority over another human being; treating them with contempt, as if the man were nothing more than a clod of dirt upon the ground, and not a living human being like oneself. Being a living breathing human being, taught to respect others and their beliefs to be as valid as mine own beliefs. One would have to feel some part of responsibility in the death of another person, to have stood there quietly and watched as a man’s life left its body forever. To have indulged in a celebratory drink with the other participants involved in such an injustice is abhorrent to one’s sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Yet, many nations today still find reasons to dominate their weaker neighbor to attain financial gain, and valuable commodities, which cannot be found elsewhere. It has been done in the name of religion, exploration, and to control the lives of others. There are tribal disputes in which dominating hordes align themselves with one tribe over another to gain prestige in the society in which they reside. Normally, a western country is responsible for the human carnage that these actions provoke. In Orwell’s story entitled “A Hanging” the British Raj was the imperialistic society he referred to the hanging. Orwell’s description of the ordial goes as follows;

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. . . I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive (George Orwell, 4-5).

 When it comes to imperialist actions the United States has also been a culprit; setting up puppet governments with puppet rulers who are favorable to U.S. interests in the guise of humanitarian assistance in order to rid the country of uncooperative leaders resistant to America’s design for a better world, and unimaginable monetary gain by its elite industrial machine. Can we disavow our complicity in imperialistic aspirations being perpetrated by our leaders today? I think not! 


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