Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blood and Candy

It was the strangest little fragment of information, lost in the thicket of coverage of the horrific shootings at the Kenya Mall.

The al-Shabaab attackers had herded a group of women and children into a room at gunpoint.  They were held there for a while, and then released.  When they were let go, the gunmen made a gesture:  they handed candy to the children.  Look!  We are your friends!  We're not so bad!  We're giving you candy!  Yum, delicious candy from your friends who really are very nice and are not going to kill you right now the way you thought they might!

All of those children had just watched as an outing had turned into a horrific, traumatic bloodbath.  They may have seen adults, adults they knew, shot and killed.  They'd been forced into a room by the gun wielding men who were responsible for instigating that terror.

And candy makes that better?  In the minds of the assailants, clearly it did.  "We are good and noble, the defenders of a great and terrible truth.  Yes, we must inflict pain, but that is only because we must.  We will hand out candy so that all will know that we are really the good guys."

That level of disconnect from what is real, from the actuality of what is being done, it can only be described as madness.  Human beings are horribly gifted at that, at becoming so lost in the thickets of their own patterns of thinking that they can no longer stand in meaningful encounter with the real.

From that place, steeped in the idolatry of our thoughts and imaginings, we most easily inflict harm on other beings.

It is not only Somali terrorists who do this.