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|"empire is not a matter of glory and honour, |
but one of murder and exploitation"
"Mrs. Hudson!" called Sherlock as he stepped through the doorway.
"May I pour you another cup of tea?" I asked when Mycroft and I were alone.
"Certainly, doctor," he replied. "Yes, please."
"Are you sure it won't keep you awake?" I asked.
"Not very likely," he replied. "It has been so long since I slept."
"I understand how difficult it can be to sleep soundly," I said, thinking back to my dreams of the man in the padlocked holdall. "You are probably in a mild state of shock, mentally if not also physically. So you can expect certain difficulties while you recover. But I will keep an eye on you, and if you need medical help, it won't be far away."
Mycroft looked at me very intently and said, "What sort of difficulties?"
"You might have more trouble sleeping than you think," I replied. "It may take a few days for your appetite to reappear. You might experience periods of restlessness, or lethargy. Everyone reacts differently."
"Go on," he said.
"Those are the most common short-term effects," I continued. "Some of the other changes will likely be permanent.
"How so?" asked Mycroft.
|"an attempt to conquer the world"|
"You may find yourself thinking about conflicts in the Falklands, or in Northern Ireland, or some of our other recent interventions in foreign countries, and questioning the justifications presented to the public. You may think back to the role you have played in these events, and recall some of the lies you believed at the time, and some of the actions you took which you would rather not have taken. It is a natural reaction, and it is never pleasant, but I assure you it is most necessary."
Mycroft nodded slowly, inviting me to continue.
"You may find yourself looking even farther afield, and deeper into history," I said, "and seeing it all in a much different light."
"How far are you thinking?" asked Mycroft.
"As far as you are willing to go," I replied. "The empire brought brutal repression to Africa, India, Malaya, and many other places. In Australia, we claimed ownership of an entire continent, and turned it into an open-air prison. We shipped the worst of our criminals there, to ravage the natives -- and ravage they did -- when they'd had enough of killing one another!
"When you begin to see that empire is not a matter of glory and honour, but one of murder and exploitation, you will recall an endless list of grievous incidents, all too painful to contemplate. And yet you will feel compelled examine them closely, as they are sources of valuable knowledge.
|"So many men were killed..."|
"I got off lightly. So many men were killed, or wounded much more seriously than I was. And plenty of other people -- 'savages,' we called them -- suffered far worse than we did, although none of them had ever attacked our country, nor could they have. We were the transgressors. They were trying to defend their homes and families -- just as we should do were the roles reversed.
"What made us 'civilized' and our victims 'savages?' Was it because we were so willing to spend our lives and fortunes building lethal weapons, and using them in an attempt to conquer the world? Is this what civilized people do?
"Were we simply gullible, eager to believe the lies we were told, and willing to do horrible things because of them? Or were we the savages?
"It has taken me a long time to understand this. But now that I do, the whole world looks different to me. I will never again see it as I once did.
"I see," said Mycroft.
"You will," I replied. "Before very long you will have a new perspective on everything."
Next: Needle In A Haystack