The American Embassy in Iran in 1979. New York, Washington and a field near Somerset outside of Pittsburgh on 9/11. And the attacks on Paris on Friday night.
While decades apart, I felt the same after each event — first shock and then deep sadness that the world had changed overnight and not for the better. In each event and a few others over the years, I’ve been surprised by the attacker’s callousness and their utter disregard for human life.
I’ve come away from each tragedy questioning how someone can injure, maim or kill the innocent and not feel anything. Do they not realize that the man or woman lying on the ground was just some innocent mother or father trying to get to work or get home to take their kids to practice?
We’ve been fortunate in the U.S. in that we haven’t had to face the level of hostage-taking, bombings and challenges on our own homeland as the rest of the world. (Frankly one is too many, but we’ve still been fortunate that there haven’t been more.) However when I read about the beheadings in Iraq and Syria, see the footage of the bombings in Beirut or then in Paris, I worry first for our safety. Even more than that, I’m struck by the insanity of the situation. What makes a person kill someone who has done nothing to them? What drives that type of hatred? Where does that that level of anger originate?
I’m not naïve. I know the world can be a dangerous place. I know that we have enemies simply because we exist. I know they have a deep hatred for our way of life.
I have some simplistic tendencies, but I know too that my values are not uniform. I may respect life but that doesn’t mean you will too. I may pray or wish for your happiness, but that doesn’t mean you will wish for mine.
I know too that killing is as old as time. But I still question why. I can understand going to war to protect a homeland, to protect a people. However, I can’t understand killing just to bully or kill. I find it unfathomable.
And no, I don’t believe the killing would stop if we simply picked-up and left the Middle East. It would go on. It would continue onward, first to Israel and then the rest of the region. A bully is a bully.
In the end, I question humanity and if we have learned anything from history? Did Nazi Germany not teach us anything? Cambodia? Bosnia? Have we not learned anything about the sanctity of life? In turn, I’m left to wonder what the future holds.
I come away with just two answers: The world has changed and it doesn’t always make sense.
So God help us all.