Quote: Through Every Human Heart

Where did this wolf-tribe [of KGB torturers] appear from among our people? Does it really stem from our own roots? Our own blood?

It is our own.

And just so we don’t go around flaunting too proudly the white mantle of the just, let everyone ask himself: “If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just such an executioner?”

It is a dreadful question if one really answers it honestly.

So let the reader who expects this book to be a political expose slam its covers shut right now.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish.

Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren’t.

From good to evil is one quaver, says the proverb.

And correspondingly, from evil to good.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, abridged version, from pp. 73, 74, 75

6 thoughts on “Quote: Through Every Human Heart

  1. Chris Schallert, Idea Engine

    I’ve thought about this much in these days as I see something like evidence of the line quavering in those I once counted close friends. And even, at times, in my own self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a very important insight.

      Recently someone threw a quote at me which I believe was from Ibram X Kendi, something like, “You either locate the source of problems in groups of people, which is bigotry, or in structures and power.” The naivete shocked me. It’s as if the writer had never heard of the idea that the source of evil is in every human heart.


      1. Chris Schallert, Idea Engine

        You ever read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”? The first principle is to take ownership of what you do and think. So many people hate the idea that they might be responsible (or irresponsible) for their lives…

        Liked by 1 person

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