The Western song begins with rage. The rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, whose prideful wrath resulted in the deaths of thousands; the searing rage of Ajax at being ignored, resulting in humiliation, madness, and suicide; the rage of Hecuba’s bitter revenge taken on innocent children in a futile distortion of justice. All are the lurid actions of thinking animals. These are where our culture starts, and they never really end. A civilization built from rage and wrath is always in danger of reverting to them; always waiting for the ax to fall, and barely surprised when it does. School shootings, mass murders, serial killers, or Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nanking, are all the voice of Achilles, saying: Hello again, I’m still here, I never left. Killer apes skulk beneath the thin veneer we call society. Violence remains more interesting than non-violence, war more compelling than peace. Murder speaks louder than mercy. It takes great effort to keep those deadly voices at bay, a difficult effort to sustain, but we either make the effort or devolve into barbarism. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the perception of inevitable chaos, to let it wash over us once again. This is what we must not do. We must find a way to remain human in an inhuman world, or humanity is finished. A difficult task, but absolutely necessary. There is no alternative but rivers of fire and oceans of blood. Keep on pushing. We cannot escape our origins, but we must become more than they were.