The Bombing

We call it The Bombing.

We don’t use qualifiers about the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building, or Oklahoma City. Anytime you utter the words The Bombing around these parts, everyone in hearing distance will know what and when you mean.

We also don’t talk about it much. This monstrous event knocked us flat as a community. It re-focused our fight away from the everyday conflicts that engaged us before it happened. Anger and rage were an indulgence we couldn’t afford. We had people to save and lives to rebuild and only so much emotional gas to do it with.

The bombing was mass murder. What happened in Denver and Wisconsin and Sandy Hook and so many other places were also mass murder. What we have narrowly avoided in other places were other mass murders in the making.

Mass murder is not entertainment.

These tragedies are on every news show, even though there’s often no news to report. They are analyzing and pontificating, all without data, like so many useless hamsters in their respective cages. The object of almost all this attention is the individual or individuals who commit these crimes.

Mass murder, whether it is committed by an individual, a mob or a government, stuns us into incomprehension. We can’t fathom why anyone would think that it is a good idea to scheme, plan — use all their money, resources and ability — to work toward and then actually do this ultimately senseless thing.

We ask why. The only answer we get is a cacophony of psycho-babble from the book authors, psychologists and profilers who go in front of the camera and serve up heaping platefuls of meaningless word-salad pontification. There is no usable answer. The question echoes. Why?

Mass murder is inexplicable to those of us who look for reasons in the healthy motivators of love, fun, achievement and reward. This is at least partly because, in addition to all its other negatives, mass murder is just plain stupid. I think this stupidity is part of our fascination. We can’t figure it out.

Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” when she described the execution of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. Eichmann mass-murderered millions. His crimes challenge our notions of civilization and human goodness.

Arendt witnessed Eichmann’s execution. She reported that Eichmann refused the ministrations of a protestant minister, announcing that he didn’t believe in God; then he made a few inane remarks and proclaimed long life to Germany, Austria and Argentina. That was it. This man who murdered on an industrial scale died with a hiccup of banality.

Arendt had experienced Hitler’s anti-Semitism. She was interrogated by the SS, then fled the Nazi death machine from Germany to France and finally America. I would guess that Eichmann was the monster in her closet, the darkness in her nightmares. And yet, when she witnessed his execution, she didn’t see the fireworks of an evil god. She saw the big zero of nothing much. Eichmann’s evil deeds haunt the world, but he himself wasn’t even an interesting person. In her words, ” … this long course in human wickedness had taught us the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”

I think she spoke a great truth in this sentence, one we overlook at our peril. Evil is not grand. It is not glorious. It is banal. Stupid. Senseless. Useless. And ultimately, boring.

Spinning verbal webs about the banal little nothings who commit these crimes gives them a substance and a dignity that they do not possess on their own. It creates the unfortunate illusion that these killers are interesting, and it feeds the cravings for significance of future killers in the audience.

Ted Bundy, another mass murderer who achieved celebrity status, said that when he killed he was god. What rot. It doesn’t take any special skill or god-like power to kill. A child can do it. Giving life, living life, caring and nurturing, providing and serving are what bring us close to God, the real God, the One Who made everything, everywhere.

A young mother, sitting up all night with the shower running while she consoles a croupy baby, is closer to God than most saints.

These twisted ciphers of people who commit mass murder are not gods, evil or otherwise. Their dark banality defies the comprehension of people who live and love in the sunlight of life. The media obliges our hunger for an answer to the omnipresent Why? of these things. They give us word-salad ramblings and psycho-babble speculation around the clock. But they don’t tell us what we want to know. They don’t and they can’t explain Why?

In the end, the one thing we know about these mass-murderers is what we knew at the beginning; that they are too dangerous to be allowed to roam free in our world.

We glamorize these people with our obsessive questioning. We feed future mass-murderers and their bizarre quest for significance with the unspoken but very real promise that they, too, can become stars of the obsessive media spotlight.

If the bombing taught me anything it is that these crimes against humanity are not entertainment, that these obsessions we form about those who commit them are our own contribution to the dark side.

Good people are hurt in these atrocities. We should focus our energies on finding ways to help them re-order their lives in this new reality of what has happened to them. We should pray and pray some more. We should pray especially for an end to the interest in these murderers. Contrary to the pretense of those who fixate on them, they have nothing to teach us.

If we want to learn, we would do much better to study those who gave their lives so that others might live, like the school principal who charged a gunman to save her students. We could learn from the security guard who saved a building full of people in Washington, from the cops who went into that theater in Aurora, and the teachers who blocked the doors. The people who bring flowers and lay them on the sidewalk, the generous souls who write checks to help the injured and bury the dead:  These people have something to teach, something worth learning.

There is goodness all around us. If we are sincere about doing something to end these repetitive mass murders, let’s stop looking to the murderers for our solutions and focus on the people who give life, not take it.

Evil is banal. It is boring. It is stupid. And it hurts people.

We should not cooperate with evil by making it, and the deaths of innocents, into our entertainment.

  • http://dgcree.wordpress.com dgcree

    Evil also carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction – thank God ! although it may take a while for those seeds to grow !

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      That may be because evil is always destruction and death, no matter how attractively it may be disguised.

  • http://laportsiablog.wordpress.com addyclay

    A great post! Thanks so much!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you. I like your poem, I Measured the Time Today. Great writing!

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Outstanding Post, Rebecca. I didn’t know Arendt had been interrogated by the SS. She and you are correct evil is banal.

    The lesson from Aurora is the old one, that there are people who love enough to give their lives willingly for others. All we need to know of evil is how to stop it.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I think the most important step each of us can make toward stopping it is to be the light that Jesus told us we were. The darkness is obliterated by the light.

      • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

        And I, in turn, believe you are right.

  • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com servusfidelis

    The Catholic Church gave us the phrase “mysterium iniquitatis” or the mystery of evil. While we remain in the human condition it will always be that; a complete mystery to us.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      And I think that when we leave this life, we will no longer have to worry about it. Done and done.

    • Subsistent

      Well, the word “complete” is the above commenter’s addition, of course. In this connexion, I remember Bishop Fulton J. Sheen saying on TV or writing, “a mystery is not something about which we know nothing; it is something about which we do not know everything.”

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com JessicaHof

    Only through. Chirst can we’ve redeemed, and. OT all the psychobabble in the world will heal what He alone can heal. I wish the media would just stop speculating. By all means concentrate on the grief and the loss and the mourning, if the media must – but better by far to be silent and respect the dead.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      “Only through. Chirst can we’ve redeemed, and. OT all the psychobabble in the world will heal what He alone can heal.’

      Absolutely true, Jessica.

      • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com JessicaHof

        I am glad the typos did not spoil it. It was an excellent post Rebecca.

        • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

          Thank you.

          I think there must be typo gremlins. I read and re-read, and still they get into every post and comment I make.

          • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com JessicaHof

            Indeed. Mine live in my I pad :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.tittiger Joe Tittiger

    ” My people will perish for lack of knowledge. ”

    Looks like you are all keeping that tradition here.

    It is an embarrassment to me that you call yourself Christians – as through your lack of action and knowledge you are supporting the evil of which you speak.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Joe, in what way are we ignoring anything?

      Would rage, filthy language and hopping up and down in a froth bring one person back to life? Would it heal any of the injured? Would it ensure the safety of even one person in the future?

      No. It would not.

  • http://unbornwordalliance.com unbornwordoftheday

    Yes, I agree – and I have been impressed by the brother of San Antonio victim Jessica Ghawi who is trying to bring to light the memory of those who were killed on that tragic night. He wants the victims names remembered – not the killer’s name. He has passed up chances to politicize this event – he just wants people to know about the names and lives of those who were killed.

    Also, I visited Oklahoma City about 10 years ago on a cross country car trip to move my daughter to her new job. I stayed only one day but was very moved when I visited the site of the bombing especially by the statue across the street of Jesus weeping. Although I was only there for a day – I was impressed by the spirit of the city and the people I met.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Jessica Ghawi; a beautiful, talented young woman with so much to offer. She is worthy of remembrance.

  • http://neoprimitive.wordpress.com jmar198013

    Thank. You. Rebecca! Those are the sorts of words that cut like a scalpel through the pretense, the hype, and the gimmicks that seem to spring up around every tragedy in my lifetime. A culture that has not learned to stand in the face of evil and admit that they do not understand, that has forgotten how to lament is a culture that is quickly spreading the seeds of its own undoing. By far worst is the conspiracy theory brigade, who before the victims were even cold were proclaiming the event a “false flag” operation carried out by the CIA and the UN to take our guns away. In all earnestness. It makes me sick to my stomach, because if you try to argue this twisted soul was under the influence of mind control, all you’re doing is refusing to come to terms with the depths of human depravity. Thank you for telling it like it is in a culture hell-bent (in the most non-flippant use of the term i can muster) on telling it like it isn’t.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for these kind words.

  • http://juancastillojr.wordpress.com jcgator1

    Gorgeously spoken. I rarely watch the news for this very same reason. The news glorifies things that are evil but refuse to glorify things are good. Id rather be completely ignorant to the happenings of this world than having to subjugate myself to wasting my time on senseless news sensationalism. Especially when they sensationalize such horrific events as these.

  • http://ournewaussielife.wordpress.com ournewaussielife

    Reblogged this on An American Catholic in Australia and commented:
    J.M.J.

    A thoughtful and well spoken blog by Rebecca Hamilton.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for the re-blog!

  • http://lbkennett.wordpress.com lbkennett

    The “why” will never be answered by secular news. They have incorrect suppositions, therefore ask the wrong questions, and look in the wrong places. The answer is also not entertaining. The public doesn’t want to hear it. Why? Because it reflects its light on us all, in one form or another. No one is immune, “for all have sinned and full short of the glory of God.” This is eternal truth. It is simple, not flashy, gets right to the point. Along with this answer God also has solutions. They are found in God’s book – a best seller for years, but not very popular. An hour reading God’s book is worth eternity watching the news. Turn off the TV. Read your Bible.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      True.

  • http://hisglorysm.wordpress.com Kathie Siler

    Thank you for the thoughtfully written article tying in the perspective of the bombing in your fair state. I disagree on one point however, to say evil is “boring” seems to trivialize the awfulness of the act. Evil is sin and God hates it- how can it be categorized as “boring”? When 9/11 happened I prayed much of that day begging God to help me to make sense of all that we had witnessed. That evening I received my answer as these thoughts ran through my mind. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good . . . God is good.” That piece of wisdom continues to keep me steady in even the darkest of days. Keep up the good work!

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Kathie!

      I tried to answer your observations about evil, but the answer ran on too long. I may do a full post on it some day. For now, I’ll just say that I find evil boring because it is one-dimensional and repetitive. I think St Augustine was onto something when he said that evil was the absence of the good.

    • Subsistent

      Sometimes, I think, something can be such–and-such absolutely (Latin “simpliciter”), and and the same time relatively NOT such–and-such.
      For example, the only-begotten Son of God the Father — “begotten, not made” — stands uncreated absolutely, because uncreated in His very Self; yet He stands created relatively to His human nature, created in His human nature.
      So, I think that evil, in itself, being a mere negativity, a lack of some due good thing, is in itself, i.e. absolutely, boring. But sometimes it can be interesting relatively to its causes, and/or to its effects. For instance, What brought on the evil of Italian fascism? How and why did it differ from German fascism? And from Imperial Japanese fascism? Aren’t these at least mildly interesting questions?

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        I think these questions are interesting, yes. But they aren’t evil. They are human curiosity and the desire to understand at work.

  • http://www.wesleyheights.org Jim

    I’ve thought your thoughts for a long time in other cases – some much less in the news, but the same hype. Why do we people get so engrossed in dark and dreary evil? As you said, we’d be much better off walking in the light.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jim.

      “And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” First chapter of John. (I forget the verse.)

      We walk in the true Light, which is Christ Jesus.

  • http://hisglorysm.wordpress.com Kathie Siler

    What Augustine said was absolutely true, but what is boring about that?

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I haven’t decided yet if I think Augustine was absolutely right. I’m still rolling it over in my mind.

      I don’t think I can adequately address this here. It’s just won’t fit in a comment reply. What I did mean by saying that Augustine was onto something is that evil is nothing. It’s a lack. As I said earlier, it’s one-dimensional and repetitive.

      I just tried to explain further and immediately went off into a long discussion.

      Let me turn this around. What is it about evil that you find interesting?

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Kathie, I hope I didn’t scare you off with that question. If you’re uncomfortable with it, no problem. I’ll try to answer (see if I can do it briefly) later today.

      • http://hisglorysm.wordpress.com Kathie Siler

        I just was respecting your response that this may not be the best format to talk about the problem of evil. My concern is that in saying that evil is “nothing” then what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9 is nullified: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” To “love” and to “hate” requires a certain degree of passion. If evil is “nothing” then Paul’s instruction has no meaning.

        • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

          Kathie, I don’t mean that evil is insignificant. What I’m trying to say — and not very well — is that evil is the antithesis of the good. By that I mean it is the antithesis of creation, of love, of existence. In itself, it is nothing. Is that clear as mud?

          This is a topic that great minds have wrangled with for the whole of human history and never reached a consensus. Thank you for the intelligent dialogue on one of the major existential questions.

          • http://hisglorysm.wordpress.com Kathie Siler

            Yep, it’s still pretty muddy for me but I appreciate your patience and honesty. Blessings to you Rebecca! ( :

  • http://viewoutsidethepew.wordpress.com nopew

    Again, another thank you. May I add how aggravating I find it that movies always say that if the hero fails in their quest that evil will reign forever. No, God reigns forever; evil just deceives people into thinking it has power. It does in our own lives only when we let it. And when it overwhelms us, we are affected, but not destroyed. “Dear children, you belong to God. So you have won the victory over these people, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 God’s Word).

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      “God reigns forever. Evil just deceives people into thinking it has power.”

      True.

      Thank you David.

  • http://swissdefenceleague.wordpress.com swissdefenceleague

    My add is this :
    Evil Must Be Brought To Light !
    No for his advertising or glorified it
    Evil Must Be Brought To Light !
    And be shown for what it is EVIL !

    If we “the people” Let the Evil
    In his Dark Corner, Do you really think
    It will GO ?
    No In Darkness it Will GROW !

    And More Evil Acts
    It is like Education…
    You let a kids says this..
    And then It will say that..
    And the barriers of non civilize behaviour
    Goes further and further, making it almost impossible to get back
    To a better behaviour..or understanding..
    When an EVIL ACT is.. It Must Be Bring To Light
    For What it is Even All Small It is.

    Then In The Light,
    The Sens of Consciousness May do his work..
    Fears belong to the Darkness
    Take Courage and see it through

    PSALM 23
    When I walk in the Valley of Death..
    You know..
    And It’s NOT I turn away, won’t recognize it
    And Hid it Somewhere that I don’t have to See It
    It is I see it for what it is
    And I Trust On My Shepherd Light !!!

    God Bless You All !!!

    Jesus Is The Light Of The World
    The Only True LIGHT !
    And That’s A Bomb Against Darkness !

    Rebecca, thank you for … just be :)

    Wil.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Wil!

  • http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com tazeinmirzasaad

    Dear Rebecca,
    you are a truly gifted writer!!!!
    Luv,
    Tazein

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Tazein.

  • http://ackans.wordpress.com Mr. V.

    Great post. And I strongly agree with the sentiments you expressed. I think the news of the massacre should have been along the lines of “Shooting in Aurora” followed by a description of the people hurt, and the efforts made to rebuild the community and the lives therein. There should have been no description or identification of the person responsible. Absolutely focus on the heroism and compassion of others. Focus on the studio and its efforts to help the victims. Focus on Christian Bale who visited wounded victims and the families of the wounded and deceased. Make no mention whatsoever of the perpetrator, not by name or description. Treat him and his deeds like the worthless and unimportant things they are. And when he gets sentenced, make no mention of it. Not even a footnote in the news. No glamourization at all.

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree. This might help reduce these tragedies.

  • http://apocalypseicons.wordpress.com apocalypseicons

    Dear Rebecca
    Thank you for dropping by on my blog and now I am aware of you, your courage and your truth. Praise God for this wonderful way of bringing people together from across the globe.
    My response to your intriguing and excellent analysis is that I feel we should understand that evil is not the person perpetrating it- they indeed may end up seeming dull, banal and quite uninteresting in themselves after all is said and done. But when the Enemy takes hold of such poor souls they are incapable of resisting the impulse and havoc ensues. It is solely through our love of Christ and faithfulness in his word that we can begin to resist or be immune to these assaults. Even the best of people spiritually are constantly under attack, as you are probably aware. It takes discernment to see the truth and sometimes this is a difficult process.
    It is so sad that evil is given prominence in the media but that is the nature of the hearts of people who are far from God. Their hearts leap at some new intrigue or unpleasantness. the most damaging evil is not necessarily the big bad things that happen but the constant everyday small evils of gossip, undermining, slander and unkindness that goes on unchecked. this ruins lives, families and causes rejection and loneliness on unimaginable scales. I call it the little murder and collectively these little murders weigh the world down. Yet they are the aspects of ourselves we can do something about and in this little way we can start to make a difference. I believe.
    Much love and peace to you. Constantina

    • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for a wise and thoughtful analysis, Constantina.

    • http://swissdefenceleague.wordpress.com swissdefenceleague

      I Really Liked What You Said apocalypseicons !

      It starts from the small things yes..
      And we blind ourselves saying that’s not that bad..
      Or ignore it.. Turn the head the other side..
      And the Seeds how small they might be..
      Grow, grow in darkness..
      And from those “small” things as the example you wrote..
      It goes further.. and link to bigger crimes..
      Bigger desperations.. and sufferings.

      A Owl .. Some look at it as a bad bird.. night creature..
      Some other refer it to some wise kind.. of sort.
      I just like Owl .. They See Trough Darkness !

      Thanks for your eyes..

      Wil.

      • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

        “Or ignore it.. Turn the head the other side..
        And the Seeds how small they might be..
        Grow, grow in darkness..”

        This is how evil prospers when good people do nothing.

        • http://swissdefenceleague.wordpress.com swissdefenceleague

          Hello Rebecca,
          I did have made some checking because I heard that sentence before..quote from someone..still haven’t found..that someone…but did find the source (you surely knew it, I did not )

          “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
          And : (John Philpot Curran) “Evil prospers when good men do nothing.” (Also attributed to Edmund Burke; the quote cannot be definitely traced to either man.)
          Many Thanks !
          Wil. :)

          • http://publiccatholic.wordpress.com Rebecca Hamilton

            :-)


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