The gasps and squeals of horror are often so warming that little or no attention is paid to the quiet, human particulars that created the horror in the first place. Taking the time to investigate is too exhausting: Crooning with others who are likewise horrified is much, much easier. Ain't war awful?! Ain't disease and starvation awful?! Ain't unkindness awful?!
And of course it is. But as a personal matter, I think there is something to be said for sorting out the human tendrils, for digging into the particulars, for reining in the lawsy-lawsy of horror and taking the steps necessary to be honestly horrified. And in that regard, I imagine each picks his or her own realm to investigate ... investigating them all would be too much to expect.
Today, in email, I received a very good -- and yes, quite long -- news story about Edward Courtney, a man described nutshell fashion in the headline with the words, "For 30 years, the man of God molested students he was hired to
teach and guide. Over and over he was accused, questioned, transferred,
rehabilitated, and accused again. But he never truly paid for his sins."
The story itself is far quieter and more compelling than those headline-esque words ... the kind of words that might arouse a crooning, harmonizing horror. The story is step-by-step and written in clear English. It's pretty human.
And, for those interested in clerical sexual abuse, I think it is worth reading. Horror is never really horrible because it is somehow outside the human realm. Its real horror lies in how tightly woven it is with the mundane and sometimes astonishingly-benevolent capacities of one human being or another.