Heaven, or Hell

“I once went to report on a village in Russia, a community of artists who were forced to flee the cities! I’d heard that paintings hung everywhere! I heard you couldn’t see the walls through all the paintings! They’d painted the ceilings, the plates, the windows, the lampshades! Was it an act of rebellion! An act of expression! Were the paintings good, or was that beside the point! I needed to see it for myself, and I needed to tell the world about it! I used to live for reporting like that! Stalin found out about the community and sent his thugs in, just a few days before I got there, to break all of their arms! That was worse than killing them! It was a horrible sight, Oskar: their arms in crude splints, straight in from of them like zombies! They couldn’t feed themselves, because they couldn’t get their hands to their mouths! So you know what they did!” “They starved?” “They fed each other! That’s the difference between heaven and hell! In hell we starve! In heaven we feed each other!” “I don’t believe in the afterlife.” “Neither do I, but I believe in the story!”

Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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