Bombs and sheep
Two bombs went off at the finish point of the Boston Marathon this week. As yet no one seems to know who the perpetrators are but as President Obama promised, and I am sure he is right, they will be caught.
I am as horrified and as sickened by this senseless violence as everyone is and my heart and prayers go out to the bereaved and injured and shocked people who are the victims. But I have been shocked too at the reactions of some otherwise gentle and kind people I know personally or by association, to the bombers.
Facebook is full of comments saying things like, “find them, hang them, kill them, no appeals, no mercy, no death row, just death”
Is that really the answer? It isn’t that I know the answer. Of course people who cause grave harm and suffering must be stopped from ever being free to commit another crime. And no, I don’t think they deserve to have their freedom ever. But I have stopped to think and concluded that they, the bombers are very sick indeed and here I am going to say something many people will disagree with vehemently and something I wouldn’t have realised a few years ago, but they too need some little compassion. I have no way of knowing if they are insane in the medical sense, but I do know for sure that to have such anger and hatred, such darkness inside of them, is to be more than mentally ill, more than just plain old mad. To have such a dark soul must be a truly terrible thing.
People are not born evil. I truly believe that. Little babies are born innocent. All of us have the capacity within us to be great or small, to be loving or cruel. Something in their life has somehow triggered this extreme callousness. I am a Mum. Since the moment my sons were born my primary purpose has been to protect them, and to teach them the best way I know how, to be good and useful and caring people. But someone has taught these killers something else. Could their teacher really have been a loving mother who wants a wonderful and good life for her boy?
I love my kids with every fibre of my being and so I weep for the family of the 8 year old boy who has been murdered and I cry easily for the parents whose son or daughter is maimed. I can empathise until it hurts and yet still not KNOW how they feel.
But I can imagine that although I might find forgiveness very hard, if not impossible if I were them God forbid, I still wouldn’t want another human, an executioner, to take another life in the name of justice. There seems to be a sickness in our society which feeds on terror and fear and then that effects otherwise gentle and kind people to bay for blood. It is a spreading poison and it hurts us all. Moreover when WE, the innocent, carry hatred and anger within us, it doesn’t hurt the killers at all. In their ignorance and their anger and yes, their pain, they have done what they set out to do, but our anger hurts US. It scars us, it brings us to our lowest self, not our highest. Is that how we want to be? Like them but without blood on our hands?
I have spoken before on this site about our connectedness to each other. So when these awful things happen, we all feel it. And when we hold a newborn baby or a tiny cute puppy, we all feel something inside of us soften. And as horrible as it is to admit to, we have all experienced dislike or even hatred and certainly all of us know anger. So the only way we are different from a terrorist is that we do not act upon that anger. This is a really hard concept I know because it has taken me many years and many books and many teachings from wonderfully wise people and some very uncomfortable meditations to actually face that fact and to now be able to spare some, a little crumb of compassion for these oh so sick souls who have to live, and then die knowing what havoc and suffering they have wreaked in their own precious human life.
There is no easy answer except what might sound glib and naive to some. Fear begets more fear. Violence begets more violence and love begets more love. But how can we love our enemy? I know on an intellectual level the answer to that but still it is so hard to practise loving someone who hurts others so grievously
I am off to Israel this week, as a volunteer in the Israeli Defence Force. Am I being hypocritical? Is it the same as my refusal to eat the meat of cows or sheep because I have seen on many long country walks how lambs and calves stay close to their mothers and how the mothers protect them as we do our children. They too are living beings no different from a beloved pet. I know they suffer fear and then a horrible death to provide me with a chop or steak. So I stopped eating their flesh and yet I buy pretty leather shoes. I bought some truly irresistable pink and silver shoes today! I shopped and had girly fun whilst other mothers in Boston were crying. What to do? And still its OK for me to eat chicken because I have some half baked theory that a hen has no attachment to her egg once it is hatched! So on one hand I am conscious and compassionate and on the other I make an excuse so I can continue enjoying chicken soup. I guess in one way or another we all have these anomalies in our life.
So I am going to an army base in a country I love dearly to support them however I can for many good reasons and of course I won’t be killing anyone, just cleaning and packing stuff, probably medical supplies, thus leaving the soldiers more time to do their job. Am I in effect saving the sheep and helping to kill the chickens?
I will be having fun, I know that! And I know whatever I am asked to do will be necessary and useful. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you and having some good discussions on this and other topics.