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We Are Proud to Present…Difficult Ideas


By Zachary Stevens, ArtsEmerson Creative Producer

There has been much anticipation about what to expect from a play with a title like We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia Formerly Known as Southwest Africa from the German Sudwestafrika Between the Years 1884-1915. It is an incredibly funny play but the laughs don’t come free of thought. The play did not give me any concrete answers, either. Rather, it left me with an internal argument:

I feel like the most memorable moments in our collective human history are the most horrific. The big tragedies bind us together. They’re also the things that are most forgotten because people don’t like to remember them. They are too painful, so they are hidden or buried. I remember when Hurricane Sandy hit New York. It was a horrible event and many lives were destroyed. But the city united in a profound way. People were more selfless than ever and people bonded together to help everyone in need. But beyond the good deeds done, I know that not everyone that was there will remember what it was like. Maybe it’s survival guilt. We made it through this horrible event while others did not and therefore we must pay it homage. Maybe it’s sadness that such things could happen or shock and anger that such acts could be perpetrated by fellow human beings. Maybe it’s vulnerability that makes us cling to others for support. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all and more. But we will remember it.

Well, a Genocide is a very different monster from, let’s say, a natural disaster. People hurting people is very different from changes and shifts in weather. Genocide is a deliberate act, a very specific and intentionally devastating attack against a group of people. It’s more calculated. A hurricane is random and reckless. It rocks the area that it hits. A Genocide hits a specific group of people and only those people simply because they are who they are. Nothing else. So while they are tragedies, lumping them together with all disasters is not right. A tragedy is not a disaster. A disaster is a mess: a tidal wave, an earthquake. A Genocide is an extermination: a thought out, well-planned hunt. It is violent and ugly because it is just people, like you and me. How did it come to this? Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Right but I think the point I was trying to make was that tragedy unifies us. We are never closer as human beings than after tragedy.

So Genocide brings people together?

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