Mint and Vinegar

Leaving the restaurant, I saw the poster of a rugby player, covered in mud, hair matted, missing teeth, eye swollen shut. He looked like hell, and I laughed. One of my sons wanted to know what my deal was. I was more surprised at not being able to explain handily, than he was at the father who espouses nonviolence.

Fact is, we all condone violence more often than we do not, and cover it with physical comfort, distance, and words. We take protein from the bodies of other animals. Our energy harvest destroys the environment. Engineers point and their technicians rip apart the earth. Our economy is predicated on continual, escalating violence to the planet and often other people. (Corporations have the values of a cancer cell, we say wisely and go about our business.) And what is more violent than most of humanity roasting in hell for eternity because they went unsaved by the right theology? Our politics too are founded on division and a monopoly on violence, which is challenged by more violence.

Sleeping, we dream of twilit violence, and waking take our entertainments, from hunting to Netflix, in violence. Our very maker is invested in deadly terrors. He is in us. How dare we judge the tiger and say we love the lamb?

John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, The Age of Clear Profit: Essays on Home and the Narrow Road (UGA Press 2022). His previous collection was Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life. He has also published a novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, and a narrative nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City. He was the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press. His work has been included and listed as notable in Best American anthologies.