It has taken me this long to get together some thoughts on the horrific events in Mumbai. That anyone for whatever reason could cause such carnage so callously still appalls me even after the events of September 11, the London bombings, the Madrid bombings, the Bali bombings and the list goes on. Attacks on the civilian population are not new, of course. We don't have to look far back to see the massacres and genocidal attacks in many parts of the world since WWII. They have been used by fanatical adherents of all sorts of beliefs, social, cultural and religious, for centuries. The difference now is that global communication means we all see it - and its immediate aftermath - as it happens.
I think we are making a serious error in dealing with terrorists because when we keep talking about them and reliving their crimes - except in trying them - we give power to them. By acknowledging them we let them puff themselves up into thinking they are not the vicious killers they truly are and sadly risk make them heroes to others of their kind. By saying that I don't mean to imply that my heart does not go out to those who have suffered in such attacks. It does but I think we can inadvertently give glamour to these murderers by making them news headlines long after the immediate impact of the event.
For a start we describe them as terrorists instead of calling them what they are - mass murderers. No human society approves of killing other human beings indiscriminately. While the justifications for taking a life vary from culture to culture, none allow for indiscriminate killing. Even in war there are rules as to who is fair game - bizarre though that sounds in a time when military officials talk about unintended casualties as collateral damage in an attempt to minimise and dehumanise these deaths.
Before the Bali bombers were executed recently they were constantly on television. The media had easy access to them and they basked in the publicity. Would that have been the case for any other group of mass murderers? I doubt it. Yes, their trial and appeal details should have been reported on but that should have been it. By allowing them this opportunity, three men, who murdered over two hundred innocent people going about their lawful business, gained a status which should never have been given them.
The truth about terrorists is that they do not believe anyone else has any rights. What they want is paramount and for them this is justifies anything they do. Of course, if we all behaved like this humanity would never have achieved what it has. Our greatest advances have been made by groups - often from very different backgrounds - working together. More, we rely on each other for our survival and although we may have different beliefs or ways of doing things, we can live together. All it needs is a degree of tolerance and mutual respect. Most of us can manage this but sadly that is what mass murderers like these - and all fanatics - lack.