The Man Who Destroyed Innocence

There rumored to be a village, where people lived with innocence. There was not a single conflict. No hatred could be discerned. No fights ever broke out. The people in the village lived harmoniously, without friction. The visitors described it as a dance of life, and the joy of living in that village attracted ever more visitors. Yet no visitors up to this point were allowed to stay. And a man heard of this village, and he was determined to bring corruption into the villagers' hearts.

Before he went on this journey to the village, he proclaimed to the public that innocence cannot exist. “Anyone can be corrupted.” What the villagers did was only a pretense, as fake as the rest of the world. Some said he was mad. Some said he was right. Some took pleasure in knowing that innocence did not actually exist. When asked, what would he do to corrupt the villagers, the man simply said, “who isn't greedy, and who isn't afraid?”

When he arrived at the village, he talked to many villagers, and he could see that conflicts did not exist. So he began by telling lies to the villagers, that some villager stole money from the other, while he was the one stealing. The villagers were shocked, and they gathered, and told the truth, and they resolved that no one knew who stole the money. They all contributed to cover the loss, and this incident had passed like a leaf in the wind.

The man was annoyed. He then injured a villager at night by breaking the his leg, and the village was shocked again. The man told the villagers that a ghost had come to exact revenge, and that he had seen the ghost himself. The injured villager must not be so innocent after all. He must have done terrible deeds before. The villagers responded, they had done nothing wrong, so no ghost would ever come. “Only the guilty are haunted. He has no guilt. This is the truth.” So they talked among themselves, and surmised that the man was suspect. And the man shouted at them, “I did it! What are you going to do about it? Are you going to punish me?”

Yet the villagers had a quite different understanding of justice. They told the man, “the past is the past; there is no point in revenge.” So they politely asked the man to leave, and to never return to this village.

The man, of course, stayed. Unable to believe his experience in the village, he would try one last time to corrupt the villagers. The next day, he held a villager at gun point, and told her that she must kill her son. She did not appear to be afraid, and resolutely refused to comply. She said to the man, “I do not fear you, nor do I fear death. You cannot corrupt someone without fear.” The man shot her in the leg, and the woman cried to the heavens, and other villagers came to the scene. They began talking to the man, and asking him whether his project was meaningful at all. They asked the man, why was happiness and peace so disturbing to him, that he would go to this length to destroy. They asked the man, what was his reason for existing, what was the meaning of his life.

The man said, that he could not believe innocence existed. He said, that the world was selfish, was doomed to destruction, and this village should not exist. The more he talked, the more conflicted he became. He could not resolve this mounting conflict in himself. He could not face the fact of this village's existence. His fundamental belief was challenged. So, like an animal driven into a corner, he reacted violently. In his rage, he started shooting at the villagers. Many of the villagers were killed, many injured, and many fled. Blood flowed into streams that went into the soil. Crows were cawing and hovering in the air. The man sat alone in the village square, and cried for what seemed like eternity.

When the man returned from the village, the public were quite curious about what had happened. They thought this was a spectacular show, the theater of the ages, the ultimate struggle between good and evil. The local news were predicting the outcome of this struggle for weeks. A show was organized. A stage was built, and as soon as the man arrived at the port, he was taken to the show. When he arrived on stage, everyone became very quiet.

A lavishly dressed interviewer came on stage, and after a brief introduction, and the announcement of the sponsors of this event of the century, he asked the man a very simple question:

“Did you destroy innocence once and for all?”

And the man said, “Yes.”

“And how did you do it?”

“I killed them all.”


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash