Thursday, 22 March 2012

La Bête Humaine

This report on the school shooting in Toulouse is worth reflecting upon

"According to eye-witnesses, the gun then jammed, temporarily putting a halt to the rampage but the killer swiftly changed weapons and headed into the school. He grabbed Miriam as she tried to escape, grasped her hair and shot her. Then, as she bled to death on the floor, he lifted up her head and fired two additional bullets." 

 Miriam was an eight year old little girl. Her killer, an adult man. held her by her hair as she tried to run away and shot her in the head. He was carrying a video camera around his neck at the time in order to film his actions.

If one human is capable of acting in this fashion then all humans are, perhaps, also similarly capable. This suggestion is so revolting that faced with crimes of this kind we instinctively recoil from the notion and say "No, this man was no man but a monster, a beast, a madman!"  In saying that we say nothing. He was not (I use the past tense as he himself was shot in the head) anything other than human and if he was mad, well if one human is capable of becoming mad in this fashion then all humans are, perhaps, also similarly capable.

All selfishness is radical, that is, all selfishness comes from the very root of what, who we are. Selflessness too is radical. In most of us most of the time there is enough of the latter to wage a lively combat with the former. Yet victory or defeat is never final while we live. What Catholics call Original Sin is never vanquished in the living although God in His mercy always gives us the weapons to best it in any and every given situation. We are not compelled to accept these weapons but the more we reject them the more we find other weapons in our hands. The desire to hurt, even to hurt harmless little girls with long hair, is nothing more or less than the prolonged and anguished cry "Look at Me!" Pride makes us selfish. The pride that says we are the best, or the most totally right or the most totally right-on. It is a long way from eight year old little boys pulling the pig tails of their schoolmates to grown men holding those same tresses to welter them with blood. Remember though that even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

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