14 July, 2006

Dissecting Bomb Blasts

It feels like deja vu again. It was London last year, Madrid two years ago, and a few days ago it was Bombay's turn to suffer a series of bomb blasts in its mass transit 'local' train service. The same thoughts of disgust, revulsion, shock and anger that occupied our thoughts exactly a year and two ago seem to be making a return visit. It feels so insanely unnatural because, somehow, we feel, it shouldn't happen this way. These barbaric acts of terror seem to be, according to our misguided impression, the preserve of some bygone era or a regular feature of some hell-hole of a failed and/ or a failing state.

All that is fine but what does one do if such acts of terror seem to happen in places we least expect. Like our cities, for instance. Modern cities that, we believe, are supposedly immune to primal rage. Situations such as these shatter our comfort zone, and increase our vulnerability and sense of mortality. It makes us realise that we are not superhuman creatures at all, and that the savage beast dwells within us and is cleverly concealed by our designer clothes and saville row suits.

However, that's something for sociologists and anthropologists to figure out but, as for me, I am quite keen to know what goes in the mind of terrorists who plant such bombs in crowded places. I'm sure it requires some depraved genius to devise such an attack on civilian targets because a rational mind will not and cannot develop such a terrorising scheme. Maybe I'm wrong in making such an assumption. Rational minds, after all, have, in the past, developed nuclear bombs, planned wars, spread dangerous rumours and hatched conspiracies that it would seem quite natural for even a rational mind to plan such an attack.

In all probabilities, a rational mind would measure the number of corpses in terms of psychological impact instead of looking at it in purely emotional terms and seeing only 'loss of human lives'. In fact, if some historians and commentators are to be believed, Hitler and Stalin were all rational creatures who 'thought' through their genocide and planned their ethnic cleansing operations quite clinically and methodically.

In anycase, that's them and they lived in a different time and era, but what does one have to say about our mass-transit bombers? How do they operate anyway? What rationale do they have in wreaking havoc on civilian lives?

I wish one could come up with a suitable answer that would seek some justification for this horror but I find it increasingly hard to do so. It just seems so inhuman that some people would actually believe that killing innocent lives will serve their political or whatever agenda. I am sure they have friends and families of their own, and are aware that death creates loss and gives rise to an empty void that can never be filled. I mean, I'm sure they know what it feels like to see loved ones perish, and so how could they just lose their sense of empathy and perform the very thing they are, probably, upset about?

I'm sure the terrorists have some genuine grievances that are making them behave in such a horrible manner, but it makes me wonder if this particular grievance is really worth all this trouble and misery. If it is making its supporters behave like savages, then, perhaps, they need to re-evaluate their priorities, strategies and, if need be, question the grievance, too. In my opinion, no grievance or cause or ideology is that sacred that its violation should demand the loss of innocent lives. If its proponents believe this to be the case, then, they are seriously misguided and must not expect any sympathy or support from fellow humans.

Such terrorist activity, in my opinion, is quite self-defeating and counter-productive because it makes it hard for anyone to take their 'cause' very seriously. No one is ever going to believe that a mass murderer has something important to say, and the same goes with these bombers. No one will ever take their cause seriously and it will, eventually, die an ignominous death. Sad. Very sad, because it completely destroys the possibility of dialogue and communication, and the benefits of possible reconciliation it might produce. It ends any hope for peace, and scuttles any chances for happiness and joy.

I wish I could understand why terrorists do what they do, but I doubt if it will ever make sense. And I don't think it is meant to make sense anyway because some things, however hard we try, can never be understood. It's the way things are, and will remain. But I do hope there is, at least, a fear of God that would make these terrorists think twice before embarking on their 'projects'. Am not sure if it will help, but, at least, it will be a beginning of major changes. And hopefully, a re-think of strategies and priorities. If that happens, then, it will definitely be worth celebrating, and let's pray that that will happen. Someday, soon.

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