When something becomes uncountable, or its number too large to fit into ordinary experience, we go numb. We sense our words and feelings won’t have the slightest impact on something of such magnitude. Quantity introduces a qualitative difference. Language is outscaled.
A poem written in exile by Bertolt Brecht in the years from 1934 to 1936.
When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain
Like one who brings an important letter to the counter after office hours: the counter is already closed.
Like one who seeks to warn the city of an impending flood, but speaks another language. They do not understand him.
Like a beggar who knocks for the fifth time at a door where he has four times been given something: the fifth time he is hungry.
Like one whose blood flows from a wound and who awaits the doctor: his blood goes on flowing.
So do we come forward and report that evil has been done us.
The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.