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A tale of two tragedies, in China and the US — reflections and suggestions

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Yesterday was a hard day, even for those like me who were quite late to the news.

We woke up here to the news on BBC — a Caribbean tradition — that someone in China had attacked a classroom with a knife of some kind and had slashed twenty-two children. This, in a country where there is a very harsh one child per family law, backed up by forced abortions etc. And, apparently, it is not the first such recent attack in that country. (Cf article in the Hartford Courant — and yes, that is tragically close to home.)

Then, across the course of the day, news emerged of a similar attack in an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut, USA. But this time with a firearm, leading to some twenty-seven deaths.

Evil strikes, in major countries across the world, in almost the same form: mass attacks on children in school and on their teachers. Attacks by people thought to be crazed. A pattern that has repeated itself now in several countries over the past years, with a case where in Beslan, Russia, it was a major organised terrorist event. In this last event, the Russian army was forced to rush in at almost any cost, when it became apparent that the terrorists were seemingly about to blow up the building.

The shocking reality and echoes of Columbine and other tragedies moved many to tears, ranging from the US President to the owner of this blog and onward to many, many others. For some, there has already been so much crying, that there are no more tears left.

Why, why, why does this happen — happen often enough to become a horrific trend?

I think John Podhoretz, in Commentary, has his finger on something we need to ponder:

Gehenna in Connecticut

Gehenna, a synonym for Hell, is a real place, or so the Bible tells us. You can see it today. It is a valley outside Jerusalem, the valley of the son of Hinnom, and it was where worshippers of the idol Moloch sacrificed children to sate their god’s hungers.

[NB: –> It was later turned into a rubbish dump, and was a place where burning, decaying rubbish, flies and their larvae were to be found in abundance, hence its use as a symbol for Hell. And, hence, a significant aspect of the way we should understand that very painful doctrine.]

Gehenna was revived today in Newton, Connecticut, where as many as 20 children at last report were slaughtered in an elementary school this morning . . . .

The idea that civilization is dedicated to the protection and preservation the weak and the innocent, and not about fulfilling evil impulses to defile and destroy innocence, is the root and core of the West. One cannot conceive of anything more monstrous than a person or persons who could look small children in the eye and systematically shoot them dead. Which is why this crime, among the worst crimes in American history, is not just an assault on the children, or their families, or the town of Newtown—though it is all those things.

What the killer(s) did today was nothing less than a contemporary sacrifice to Moloch, in whatever form Moloch manifests himself today—the appeasement of a voice in the head, most likely. Evil, even if it is loosed due to mental illness, is an effort to destroy the common good by making good appear powerless, ineffectual, weak. Today saw a horrifically effective effort to give evil a victory. It has opened a portal and brought Hell to earth.

Gehenna is real again.

Gehanna is real again, as the hell-on-earth appeasement of a demonic, crazed voice in the head, or in the organised cases, of the demands of a rage- or power- driven nihilist ideology that imagines that waging war on innocents conveniently gathered in soft targets is somehow justifiable and not outright demonic savagery. Something, we must all ponder and find an answer to.

(And BTW, we can push to one side the “let’s get rid of the guns and it will solve the problem” talking point, for it is plainly a miss-the-point distraction.  The attack in China was a knife attack, could easily have been a cutlass- or axe- wielding attack that would have been just as brutally lethal as a gun attack. Failing that, as the past decade has driven home with all horror, we can have a walk-in or drive-in suicide bombing. How are we going to “control” knives etc, or basic chemicals, nails, Chemistry textbooks, glassware, plastic bottles or the like and simple electronics that can be used to make an initiator? Have we forgotten that “when guns are outlawed, it is the outlaws who will have the guns” — some of them in uniform, with duly authorised badges? Have we forgotten the implications of large scale smuggling and black markets for illicit drugs? Have we forgotten the lesson of the school-targetting attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Israel in the 1970’s, where the solution was to arm and train selected teachers, hardening the target? So, while indeed it is appropriate to see how we can regulate firearms and prevent needless tragedies, disarming the law abiding public is not a real solution. No, not while we are by and large finding silly excuses to turn a blind eye to thousands of rockets targetting civilians going about the ordinary business of life in Israel — including waves of rockets timed for when children are leaving school to go home, and when we are too often playing twist-about blame game tactics without doing something positive to resolve the problem of tens of thousands of terrorist rockets. No, not while we are  studiously ignoring the reality that a known terrorist state — the one backing the rocket campaign against Israeli civilians from behind the shield of civilians held hostage in Gaza and southern Lebanon — is rushing ahead to pass the nuke red line (probably by next spring), in a world where demolition nukes and suicide bombers are a horrific match-up made in Hell; pointing to a horrifically possible headline in a few years time, where it will not be a “mere” school attack, but a whole city gone up in nuclear smoke and fire — an all too literal manifestation of Gehenna. There can be no technological and simplistic law-making quick fix to the problem of Gehenna let loose again.)

I repeat: there can be no technological and simplistic law-making quick fix to the problem of Gehenna let loose again.

That is what we face, and it is what we have to address.

We have to rebuild a global consensus and a community consensus, that we must not invite Gehenna to walk in the door. And, we must be prepared to defend it, taking a clear sighted look at what is happening, and where it can go.

Clever talking point games and agenda driven irrelevant “fixes” must be put aside, and we need to look deep into the recesses of our hearts and deal with the portals within that invite Gehenna to walk in the door.

Evil must be faced, named, shamed and countered. END