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Re: [HoB/D] Terrorism -- An Israeli's point of view
Thanks for highlighting some disturbing questions.
To me these posts have seemed to be trying not to justify the terrorists
so much as to understand them, and in doing so, maybe to understand more
about ourselves by seeing how the terrorists and those who cheered them
see us. We can learn from seeing ourselves as others see us without the
necessity of accepting their conclusions.
When dealing with horrible crimes -- as in your own example of sex abuse
-- indeed our first priority should be the victim, and some may need to
have no other priority. Those who work with the offenders do not have
that luxury, however. Those who want to rehabilitate, or maybe just to
understand the offenders might begin with your explanation "there is an
absence of conscience," but few would agree with " -- pure and simple
sociopathy." Outside comic books, sociopathology is rarely pure or
The only way to understand a pathology is to probe all kinds of
connections, true and false, made along the way. Sometimes the most
rational person you know needs to make only one false connection, and all
else methodically falls into place. Some marginally rational persons
function well as human beings by responding to moral tests with some
primal values. Reason by itself is amoral and is not a foolproof
deliverance from evil.
"Thus it is said that one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not
be endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy
but knows himself will sometimes be victorious, sometimes meet with
defeat. One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be
defeated in every engagement." ...Sun Tzu from Art of War
What troubles me more than whether I can understand, is whether and how I
can forgive. What must that forgiveness look like faced with the enormity
of the 911 disasters?
As a Christian, I have no choice. I pray faithfully that God will forgive
me my sins as I forgive others theirs. I would cheat if I added a
footnote, "but God, I don't mean these particular folk."
Nor do I want to indulge in cheap sentimentality about my forgiveness of
them. It's too easy for me to say "God loves them!" with an undertone of
"so I don't have to."
"To understand is to forgive." Is it? I don't know. Maybe it is the
other way round, 'to forgive is to understand'? If we can get ourselves
to a place of forgiveness, will we understand?
Of one thing I am certain, namely, the location of all forgiveness:
Thanks much, David, for your probing post.