2005-07-08 Numb

Love and Courage

I woke yesterday to the words "There's been a terrorist attack in London", uttered by my British born husband as he stared at the stark images CNN beamed into our bedroom. Groggy, thick with sleep, it took a few seconds to process what he was saying and then I sat bolt upright, gawking, slack-jawed with horror.

You all know the rest. Four bomb blasts in London, more than fifty lives snuffed ruthlessly and needlessly, 700 injured, blood spattered on a building, wreckage lying twisted and smoldering beneath the city.

I've been watching the relentless broadcasts, sort of numbed, but not entirely shocked. I listen to the analysts, the experts, the speeches from Tony Blair, the broadcasts from Glen Eagles and the G8 Summit. I process it all through a kind of dull glaze, heartsick and heavy.

And one word echoes through my brain, "Why?"

Not one person, in all the faces paraded across my screen, has yet to answer that satisfactorily.

Why? I don't get it. What does this mean? I get that these horrific attacks are part of some larger crusade, some extremist viewpoint, some hideous intention to shock and awe and to cow us all into submission... or something. But why? What is the ultimate objective for these heinous acts? What is it these terrorists want?

I don't get it. I don't understand. Are we suppose to immediately don burkas, renounce our capitalist ideals, surrender our liberties, denounce Christianity, embrace... something? What?!!

I don't get it. If these terrorist acts are meant to deliver some higher message, well, that message is completely lost to me. And apparently, everyone I see on CNN or the BBC or Newsworld or CBC.

I'm serious. Someone please enlighten me. Recommend a book or a website or something that I can read so that I might attempt to understand. What is it that al Qaeda or these extremist groups whoever they might be are trying to achieve? What do they want? if it is about some sort of jihad, some kind of Muslim Holy war, why can't anyone seem to express what the objective is or what the reasons are? Are these acts intended to convert us immediately, make us more sympathetic to the Muslim ideology and goals? Are they simply trying to erase everyone except people of similar belief? Is this punishment? Is this retribution? Is it genocide? Is it some kind of public service announcement? I mean, I know they want troops out of Iraq and Afghanastan and all that... I know that. I know all the Bushisms "they want to destroy our way of life, our freedoms" stuff. But I'm talking the big picture. What does al Qaeda's version of Utopia look like anyway? And how do they expect to achieve that Utopia by bombing innocents on buses?

It would seem to me that whatever it is they are trying to communicate is failing miserably. I'm not stupid. Really, I'm not. I'm an educated person. I consider myself to be an informed person. I go out of my way to keep up with world events. I read newspapers and news magazines, have a background in journalism. It would not be overstating it to say that I'm addicted to CNN. Via the television, I've witnessed these acts over and over... in Bali, in Madrid, in New York, and now in London. But I still don't get it. What do they want?

What do they want?


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