Why do people do that?

Many of us have been glued to the news as the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers comes to a close.  Many of us ponder the question, “Why?”  Why would people do this?

As with any such incident, I certainly would not want to say the answer is easy.  But some thoughts seem worthy of sharing. I am struck by one of the most moving books I read on this question titled “Eichman In My Hands.” The book chronicled the kidnapping of the Nazi general in charge of the logistical support that enabled the Holocaust. Eichmann was kidnapped from Argentia where he had fled after the war. The book’s author … the Mossad agent who had lost family in the Holocaust and who was tasked with bringing Eichman to justice.

The author’s words, as he concluded the book around the “Why” question, were chilling.  He said he now believed that very normalcy … almost boringly so … of Eichmann should deeply unsettle us.  He also noted that evil grows from “amorality by consensus.”  Restated, what he held was that individuals and communities embark on a dark path when they erase the moral conversation from life.  They become amoral, not immoral.  Ironically, extremists, religious and otherwise, do this adeptly, slowly erasing all moral consideration in a way that is insidious in its boredom.  The bombers, like Eichmann, progressively erased a foundational humanity years before the Marathon, years before the Holocaust.

It is heart breaking to see the photo of 8 year old Martin Richard.   It is apparent, given the evidence, that the bomber responsible for his death would have set the back-pack laden with explosives right near this child.  That is beyond hard to imagine for us.  And then to calmly walk back down the street, away from the explosion….

That spiritual dullness so apparent in the callousness of it all speaks to a conscience washed clean of any moral feeling.   “Amorality by consensus.” Evil is born of such a perspective.

Evil by its nature wants to wound everyone, goodness by its nature wants to hurt no-one.  The evil feel that are fully alive when they go on the offensive, because they are always wanting to destroy.  The good feel they are alive when they are not attacking anyone but are taking advantage of the opportunity to help others. (Heavenly Secret 1684)

And our call is to watch for ways in which that same callousness, dismissive of all forms of suffering, can start to grow in our lives.  Lord help us be helpers.

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One Response to “Why do people do that?”

  1. Peter Rienstra says:

    Was Eichmann the person that told Hitler if you tell lies loud enough and long enough people will believe them. I knew Hitler and his gang were bad even though I was only 5 years old . my teachers at school told me. At the same time, I had my own war going on . I was being bullied by the black kids in my school which had a greater % age of them. needless to say that the blacks were like the Germans in my mind so I also hated them. I am sure today that God and my parents and other people God sent to me kept me from the being like Hitler. When other people do bad things, I have to wonder where the evil really begins Can it start with a word or action in the home or in the schools ?

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