How to Reconcile Intense Beauty with Crimes Against Humanity in The Hague
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 1:03PM
Jack Rice in Editorial, icc, the hague

After more than a few years rolling around this planet, I think I can say with some certainty that life is about balance.  Getting shot at and /or hit by IEDs will do that to someone. Go figure. And oddly enough, The Hague has a strange balance that goes beyond few places I have seen.

After a flight from Minneapolis to Toronto is cancelled and then rerouted through Chicago and then to Munich and then finally to Amsterdam, I stumble onto a train and try to embrace this relaxing stress-free ride down to Den Haag, The Hague.  At least, that's where I think I'm going. Not even sure what day it is. Watching the countryside speed by, its hard to believe that there are truly any problems anywhere in the world, which takes me back to the purpose for this trip. It's so strange as I prepare to go to the International Criminal Court.  The juxtaposition of this place could not be more stark. That work begins in the coming hours.

Sometimes just a slow lumbering walk is all it takes to remember the balance and why you are here and I know a slow lumbering walk. The Hague is absolutely stunning, even fairytale like.  The Government buildings, centuries old, the Prime Minister's office, small, almost inconsequential and yet amazing for that reason alone. If you can imagine a jewel box in city form, then you get it. The cobblestone streets, the historic architecture, the blue doors and window frames that are so unique in color that they seem to grow from this place only.  And then there are the canals. They criss cross the city just enough to give you the contrast and focal points that leave you breathless.

And yet, The International Criminal Court is here too. And more than anything else, it is none of these things. Oh, to be sure, its architecture is stunning and in an intensely modern way.  Of course, what I'm talking about is what they tackle. Genocide. Rape. Murder. Crimes against humanity. Let that sink in for a second. It stands as a testament that people should not be able to act with impunity and that they should be held accountable.  And maybe as much, maybe because it stands, others will think twice before they do something that puts them in the cross hairs of the Court.  

All that being said, as I think about it, having this intense beauty surrounding the Court actually makes sense. The beauty of life is real. It matters. It is stunning. And, when it is taken, by anybody, and any where on the planet, that beauty is stolen too.  And that beauty matters just as much.  

As as result, surrounding oneself with such intensity, both sides of it I mean, is probably the smartest and best way to remember the beauty and the brutality, so you can handle both with the focus and intensity that they require.  

Article originally appeared on Jack Rice: In the Cross Hairs (
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