I don't think there has ever been a time when cruelty didn't exist somewhere in the world. We tend now to think of it as something in other countries - that we are more civilised here. \but of course, when one looks at the figures for murders here that is not true. There is never a week goes by when our local news isn't dominated by a murder or a stabbing or some kind of cruelty.
Are we the only species that practises this cruelty? The animal kingdom has some kind of order to it where the cat catches the mouse - and tortures it for a while before eating it. But mostly animals kill for food.
What made me think along these lines was looking through an old box of photographs yesterday and coming across one of me in our Early Music Group. During the Summer our group, who all played a variety of early instruments, would at weekends play at various venues - sometimes just us, sometimes with dancers. One of the places we played at was Warwick Castle and I think it was here that there was an oubliette. For anyone who doesn't know, an oubliette is a dungeon with just an opening in the roof. It was often sunk into a pit in the floor so that the victim could be precipitated in and forgotten. We always played on a lawn next to this and the dungeons. It was a pretty little corner and the only other thing that was in that part of the castle was the nursery quarters. It used to fascinate me that nursery quarters and oubliette were so close together. Human life was held so cheaply that life could be lived like this and children grow up to accept it as 'normal'.
Of course we could go on to add Belsen and all the other places in the Second World War - and many places in the world where life is still held to be so cheap and cruelty is a way of life.
I put the photograph away again - starting to think along those lines particularly when one lives alone, is not a good idea.
So let's finish with a smile. On our visits to Warwick Castle we were always allocated a room in which we could change into our early music costumes and then just come down a winding staircase into the courtyard. My first husband needed to wear glasses to play and once we were coming down the stairs in our finery, carrying a variety of early instruments, when we met a family of visitors coming up the stairs. One little boy looked at us and said,"Ay look - it's King Arthur" to which another little boy answered, "Don't be silly, King Arther didn't wear glasses"! Out of the mouths.