On Suffering 2

The Mongols were known for using straight-forward and aggressive siege strategies to get cities to submit.

In the Siege of Kusong during the Mongol invasions of Korea, 1231. The Mongols used a myriad of methods including, but not limited to, tunneling under the walls, catapulting large boulders and molten metal at the town, siege towers and scaling ladders, pushing flaming carts against the city’s wooden gates.

The most brazen activity was the boiling down of their captives and using their liquefied human fat to light catapult-launched fire-bombs which were practically inextinguishable. There are accounts of boiling human fat running down the paths and stone stairs of the city with villagers running and slipping on the human oil of their fellow countrymen.

This nightmarish situation was eclipsed for me when I heard of the details of the boiling itself and the fact that the captives were sometimes alive during it.

Kneeling in a plain with your hands and legs bound behind your back, with you are maybe two or more of your fellow soldiers, also bound. In the distance you see a few Mongols preparing a large cauldron with a fire under it. You being to hear the cauldron bubbling and the blaze crackling.

Two men come and lift you, one holding your legs and the other your arms, you have a limited understanding of what is about to unfold.

Hearing the horrid bubbling becoming louder weakens your constitution and you quickly go pale from fear. Before you can understand what is happening, you experience a quick fall, then your body is entirely enveloped in suffering previously unknown to you, the depth of which seems almost otherworldly. After about two minutes of phantasmagorical torment with the Mongols looking at you with utter carefreeness, you drown and slip into darkness with your nerve endings entirely burnt out.

My mind goes to the place of recognizing that the possibility of this happening to me is not closed, and that it would be practically possible of torturing a human being in this way. Kidnapping a person and acquiring a cauldron like the one in this historical account for the sole purpose of reenacting this scene of torture. There is a difference between “possibility” and “likelihood”. The likelihood is small, but the possibility is always there.

An antidote to the uncertainty of life is a leap of faith concerning personal destiny where the likelihood of an event with grand suffering like this is so small that it closes of and seems to negate any possibility. The questions remain. Why did this happen to those people, why does the possibility become a reality for other people and not for others? And what horrors are open to you, if this happens in the same world you live in. What if your destiny contains horrifying events beyond measure? Can there be any meaning in a world where events are random?

“God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh”