Having been caught between the colliding tectonic plates of two totalitarian systems, it is easy to see how Grossman saw history not in terms of a matched battle between good and evil, but of a juggernaut trying to mow down seedlings of kindness.

Despite – or because of – everything he witnessed as a frontline war correspondent, he concludes that if our humanity hasn’t been crushed by now, evil probably won’t prevail.

Thank goodness, or kindness, and amen.

‘Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil.  It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness.  But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.’

This is a quietly, persistently, recurrent theme in Grossman’s writing.  See also: ‘Kindness maketh man’ and ‘In praise of senseless kindness’.

Source: Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman; trans. Robert Chandler (New York: New York Review Books, 2006 (1985)), p. 410

Photo credit: Matthew Ansley at unsplash.com

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