31 March 2010

Tears for the Tools

The news on the radio said that at least 38 people were dead and more wounded from two suicide bombings in Moscow. 38 families left to mourn, and many more to deal with the aftermath of another senseless act of violence. I swallowed the lump in my throat, sent up a prayer for the victims, and wondered who would shed tears for the suicide bombers.

I would have cried for the victims, I think, if I was less fatigued from these sort of events. I am hard pressed to recall a week in the years since the invasion of Afghanistan, that has been without a car bomb, suicide bomb, IED...always something exploding, always someone getting maimed or killed...This does not mean I have no sympathy, anymore, it means I have no more to give.

That the bombers were allegedly women made no difference to me. It is no more tragic because the supposedly gentler sex perpetrated these crimes. If history has shown us anything about men and women, it is that one gender is no less capable of savagery than the other. So I do not feel sadness for the bombers simply because they are women. Double X on the spiral does not mean 'exempt from human frailties'.

That the bombers were a nationality other than American made no difference to me. It is no more tragic for a horrible crime to be committed, no more indicative of a intrinsic 'bad' or 'good' national character trait, for these events to have occurred in Russia. Nationality and citizenship are no more guarantees of rationality or compassion than skin color or native language. People like Timothy McVeigh are proof that Americans are just as capable of heinous acts on a grand scale as any group on the face of the planet.

Strangely, or so I thought at first, I felt greater sadness that two people had killed themselves to kill others, perhaps, with a twisted notion that they were furthering some greater ideal. Whether religion or politics, the most likely suspects, I do not know but either is highly probable, and equally odious, should they be shown to be the 'why' behind what happened. Those reasons are enough to be upset and angry, but I was beyond them as I wondered at my own feelings on the matter. 

I felt sad because I know that many people will curse the bombers for their lunacy, their terrible actions, their inversion of the natural order by dashing our collective expectations. I felt sad because many will look upon the perpetrators as the worst of the worst...but that is missing the point. What matters more is that someone was led astray. Someone was coaxed into believing that the Cause was more important than respect, compassion and understanding for your fellow human beings.

They were led to think that politics or religion or both were more important than human lives. The bombers were tools, tools used by evil mechanics to build soft engines of destruction and misery.

I do not absolve the bombers of responsibility. It is highly improbable that they were ignorant of the ramifications of their actions. But I have heard so much, seen so much violence perpetrated in the name of Higher Ideals that I feel less anger towards the tools and more towards the mechanics who use them. I do not despise the bomb so much as the person who activates it, and regrettably nowadays there seems to be little difference between a suicide bomber and the explosives he or she carries.

We should feel sadness for the victims, I agree, and anger at the criminals. But if we are to be serious about compassion and understanding, sadness for the perpetrators is not out of the question. I do not mean the bloody crocodile tears that some will shed for "martyrs to the cause", for what they did has no justifiable reasons to support such heinous acts.

If any tear should be shed for the bombers it is for their humanity and their reason lost, knowing that someone led them astray, and as a consequence innocent human beings lost their lives. They were tools in the wrong hands.


  1. I feel as you do. We have seen so much violence on our TV screen since 9-11 that not much of it seems to phase me or my husband. Unfortunately it will probably take a catastrophic event right here at home in the USA before it grabs our attention. Our brains have been soaked in violence just as an alcoholic's brain is soaked in 99 proof and it has deadened our emotions. Sad but true.

  2. I still will not shed any tears for suicide bombers, not ever.

  3. Excellent post Gumbo. It has always saddened me when reading reports of suicide bombers who were happy in their training, thinking they were dying to enter a 'higher glory'. And as you say, at a total disregard of fellow human beings. And seeing photos of injured and distraught victims makes me wonder where is the point in it.

    I agree that these and similar acts are happening all around us on a daily basis and has become a part of life. That's not only sad but frightening.

  4. I'm with you in the struggle to feel. Sometimes it seems like there is too much to sympathise or feel pain about, and when it feels like that I tend to pray, mourn quickly in my soul and move on.

  5. I, too, was shocked to hear about this. And sad for the death and destruction. Not so much for the suicide bombers, only for their delusions.

  6. I am with you on this. Well said. Not a popular view... to have compassion for souls led astray.

  7. Leading people astray is a powerful energy. Getting people to blow themselves up for a cause is the most blatant extreme.

    And then there are the more subtle examples, like getting people to believe there is something wrong with "some" people having health care.

    When we start to care about people just because they are people, then we will begin to live in a better world.

  8. I heard John tell his son, when he was getting ready to go back to Iraq (he did 3 tours) that it wasn't Mark's job to die for his country. Mark's job was to make sure the other guy died for HIS country. I thought that was brilliant.

  9. I've always been bothered by the pointlessness of suicide bombers. I understand if they're trying to kill soldiers at a checkpoint or something of that nature, but to blow up their own people in a market place? There's no logic in that.

  10. i agree...i sometimes marvel at the power of faith, and the strength it can exert to bend the minds and souls of humankind. And to give up your life for your beliefs is something I cannot comprehend. To have that fervent, unshakable belief that what you do, you do for greater glory, or for God, or whatever, can not be dismissed with, "oh s/he was just a crazy suicide bomber, s/he didn't care about anyone." I really don't think they do it just for the mere pleasure of killing other people, although that is how some would want us to believe - "all muslims train their children to hate americans" - bull crap....anyway....thanks IG - this is good, and very very sad....

  11. I weep for all but the dead.

    Beyond Sympathy

    I weep:

    for the boy
    bleeding from shrapnel
    in his head,

    the mother who buries
    her children beneath
    the burning sands of Canaan,

    the soldier who pulls the trigger
    when his edgy nerves
    no longer withstand the strain,

    the engineer who spends
    meticulous hours
    inventing ways to kill.

    I do not weep for the dead.
    They no longer suffer what we do.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...