13 September 2011

The Just Assassins

I usually don't read books twice because there are so many excellent books that I still need to discover. An exception to the rule is The Just Assassins, by French philosopher Albert Camus, which I couldn't resist reading again last night. It's a short play based on a true story, exploring the moral issues associated with terrorism and justice. Read it in French or English (you'll need less than an hour to read it) and tell me what you think.

Here is an excerpt:

Kaliayev: Men do not live by justice alone.

Stepan: When someone steals their bread, what else will they live on but justice?

Kaliayev: On justice and innocence.

Stepan: Innocence? Yeah, maybe I know what that is. But I chose to ignore it, and have it be ignored by millions of men, so that one day it can take on a bigger meaning.

Kaliayev: You have to be very sure that day will come to destroy everything that makes a man willing to keep on living.

Stepan: I am sure of it.

Kaliayev: You can't be. To know who, me or you, is right, you'd need the sacrifice of maybe three generations and a lot of wars, terrible revolutions. When that rain of blood is dry on the earth, you and I would have been mixed with the dust for a long time.

Stepan: Others would come then, and I salute them as my brothers.

Kaliayev, crying out: Others ... yes! But I love those who live today, on the same earth as I do, and they're the ones I salute; I'm fighting for them and for them I'm willing to die. And for some far-off future city that I'm not sure of, I will not slap the faces of my brothers. I will not add to living injustices for a dead justice.