Serious post this time, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry, no bad knitting this week.
Hidden behind the tragedy of the Brussels attack and the drunken monkey farce that is the American presidential primary season has been a series of truly horrendous terrorist attacks across Africa and the Middle East over the last 3 months. The worst of these in magnitude of sheer brutality was on Easter Sunday, when a bomb went off in an amusement park in the city Lahore, Pakistan, killing nearly 70 people and wounding at least 300.
I found this attack far more horrible than most because of who it targeted. Lahore, a city of over 5 million people, is in eastern Pakistan, not far from the border with India. It is the capital of Punjab province, and the hometown of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Lahore has a very small Christian population, about 2%, but they have been targets of attacks in the past. A pair of bombs went off outside a Catholic church on March 15 of last year, killing 15 people. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for both that attack and this one, siting that it intended to target Christians, even though the majority of the victims in Easter’s attack were Muslim.
Now I can, with great effort, stretch my mind and my morals to comprehend the motivations behind an attack such as the one in Brussels. From the point of view of the IS terrorists, they are religious freedom fighters, doing all they can to destroy a great and powerful enemy of their faith. While I find this indescribably twisted, there is a dark sort of logic behind it. Flawed logic, yes, but it is there.
This attack in Lahore, on the other hand, makes no sense to me at all. What is the point? Why lash out so indiscriminately? Why harm the most innocent, the most powerless? Why target such a small group? Why do it in a way that harm many who, at least on paper, might agree with your ideals? What cause does it promote?
I do not believe in Big E Evil. The idea that there is some great external malevolent force that wants to lead humanity down the path of annihilation seems both childish and illogical to me. Evil, to me, is a very human thing, born of our ignorance, our fear, and our insistence that we are separate from each other rather than interconnected. When I am tempted to act selfishly, to make harmful assumptions, to separate myself from my fellow humans, I believe in my heart that it is me and me alone who is responsible for these feelings. There are times that I am afraid or disconnected or thoughtless, and I allow these feeling to interfere with my ideas of who I am and what I desire.
But I cannot imagine ever being so disconnected that I could deliberately kill dozens of strangers. I cannot comprehend being so threatened by others’ ideas that I would want to silence them through violence. This is beyond me. Yet these are thinking, feeling humans who carry out these acts. In their minds, they are not monsters or evil. They are the heroes of their lives, not the villains.
There is an idea in many New Age circles that I feel has a degree of merit. We see that we encounter the same negative situations over and over again. We get into the same sort of romantic relationships with the same sort of people over and over. We attract the same sort of “friends”, make the same mistakes, sabotage our lives in the same way. The idea that some people have floated is that we do this deliberately, at some deep level, because there is a “lesson” we need to learn there. If we do not learn it, it repeats. Now I do not believe that life is some sort of school. We are not here to have some lesson beaten into our heads. But I have also seen this pattern in my life, and I do believe that we draw certain circumstances to us. Not because we need to learn anything, but because we wish to experience something in order to choose who we wish to be in contrast to that.
So I have to wonder what experience we as a world desire, that we continue to draw this sort of violence to us. Whatever it is, I hope we finish soon, because these tragedies break my heart.