Why We Study Crimes Against Humanity


Studying Crimes Against Humanity is important because it gives us a greater understanding of the world around us by teaching us to see it outside our own biases. It is the way a person critically inquires that helps mold independent thought on the way the world works. In society, there is a tendency to follow the popular belief. This spares people from reiterating what they already feel, or it is used to make decision-making more comfortable. The misconception behind popular beliefs is that they are truths. Having more people agree with something doesn’t make it essentially ethical or factually straight. People cannot see all the sides of a complex subject if they see from a narrow perspective. Crimes Against Humanity teaches the importance of understanding the reasoning and diversity in perspectives. We looked at Picasso’s series of bulls before as examples and more recently we are studying the depth of characters’ roles as heroes, villains, and/or victims. If one puts effort into dissecting a character, he/she sees that roles cannot be easily assigned all the time. A character can be a hero in one context, but from a different perspective the character could be a villain. Sometimes the roles even overlap: a hero can cross the line into criminal behavior, and perhaps observers can sympathize with a villain to see him/her as a pained victim. We have built upon the concept of perspectives to focus on stories that portray the complexity of roles. Understanding other perspectives other than one’s own swaying can prove useful because deeper knowledge about the characters and the story is gained through that process. By knowing the opposite of what you believe, perhaps that can strengthen your opinion. When opinions are protected, then it is easier to know what stories in real life you want to advocate.

When we went out to see Maxwell Street, I felt a silence that I related with the removal of culture. Nothing of Old Maxwell was left. Nothing spare a few bronze statues. Putting statues to replace the ambiance of Old Maxwell is an insult in my eyes. I see this as a crime against humanity because Maxwell Street stood for the livelihood of humanity; what do Caribou Coffee and Jamba Juice stand for? It represented a commercial power imposing itself upon a smaller power without consideration of the culture that place held. The justification was that it was needed for progress. From a different angle, the perspective of the ones I considered villains say that the replacement was needed in order for the greater whole of that area to increase revenue, which decreases the taxes people have to pay. This attempt to see things differently helped to widen the view I had of Maxwell Street. In a separate case, a literary source reflected on the issue of misjudgement. While looking at “Your Sweet Man” by Libby Fischer Hellmann, readers for a length of the story are under the impression that Jimmy Jay committed the murder of his wife. The truth is that his son, Calvin, did it. However, Calvin did not do it on purpose. Calvin’s actions were a result of his intention to defend his mother, but as events rolled out mistakes happened. Jimmy Jay took the full responsibility for his son’s actions and said the reason for doing so was for Calvin to grow up normally; to grow up and become a new example of a “sweet man” for his mother. Jimmy Jay sets an example that even though a person is behind bars, that impression doesn’t subject them to a code of morals associated with their situation. This example relates to Maxwell Street. Maxwell, which may not make a lot of revenue or be commercially successful but that does not subject it to being dispensable. Maxwell Street had it’s value in being a beacon of inspiration for artists and their supporters. However, Maxwell Street is now in the past and can be observed as an example. Understanding social ills helps us to become aware of indecencies towards certain people. The deeper we ground our personal points-of-view and consider outside perspectives, the more the world appears unfiltered.

Photo by: Sidney Pink, “All the Pieces” (2010). Retrieved from http://www.sidneypink.com

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