Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, October 28, 2005  

Ultimate Depravity

Christian girls beheaded in grisly Indonesian attack

Beslan, Oklahoma City, Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. The province was the scene of a bloody religious war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1000 people from both communities.

At the time, beheadings, burnings and other atrocities were common.

Somewhere at this very moment some fellow is writing a story with a character who is evil and is trying to imagine how that character became so. Whether it's Stephen King, the guy who wrote all those Hannibal Lector books, or someone with a true crime Ted Bundy tale to tell, a writer is trying to use his imagination to discover how an innocent little boy grew up to be a sadistic psychopath dedicated to the pleasure, the sense of power, he gets from doing ultimate and gratuitous harm to another human being, especially a child.

The writer will make it all seem determined. The little boy will have a rotten mother, or no real mother. He'll have been abused sexually or violently. He'll have taken to tormenting insects and torturing small animals. He will be like a caged animal poked from all sides with sharp sticks by laughing boys until he goes mad. Whatever.

It will all seem to make psychological sense to the writer and the reader. The man became evil because he was treated so cruelly himself.

But that really isn't true.

The men who killed those three girls in Indonesia aren't criminal psychopaths like we see in the movies. They are a group of men who have banded together to avenge humiliations they are certain they or their families and group have suffered.

They are only evening the score, they think. So what if they beheaded children? If that's what it takes to make others cry and suffer, then so be it. In fact, it makes the suffering of others all the more acute. How wonderful. Now, let's go wash off, head home and have some tea. Soon we can laugh about how this one looked as we did this and that to the other one.

The human conscience is a pretty weak thing. It takes about 48 hours for any act of shame to lose its effect on us if we want it to pass. And most of the time we do want it to pass. Great crimes are generally committed by sadists who have no intention of feeling anything but wonder at their audacity and power.

The sadist, of course, always lives a life of fear that others are planning to do to him what he does to others, but such things don't often catch up to people like him. Since most people in the world aren't at peace with themselves, the sadist, the depraved thug, doesn't feel particularly out of place in the world.

In the mid 1800's a reporter for a Dublin newspaper went on a tour of the Irish countryside. On one rural road he came to a hovel in a small field where an old, weatherbeaten man in rags and tatters was working the ground with a worn hoe.

The reporter approached him, spoke a bit about his desire to learn more about the rural people like him, his situation and asked him what he might want.

"What I want? I tell you what I want. I want de Judgment Day!"

Beslan, Oklahoma City, Indonesia. I want the Judgment Day, too.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:31 AM |