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Friday, November 28, 2014

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How in control are we really?

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We humans aren’t really sure if we’re running our world well. How would we know? We’ve never done this before.

Yet, with the advent of such mind-blowing discoveries as cloning and stem cell research, it’s as if we’ve rubbed elbows with God and figured things out. Sometimes we become so cocksure about our achievements, such as the splitting of the atom and the discovery of fish without eyes at the bottom of the sea, that we think we’re in charge.

Who needs God at all? Like the people who built the Tower of Babel, our universal confidence, combined with a sense of self-importance, grows so much at these times that we see ourselves as central to existence.

Then what has come to be seen as the inevitable happens. A wave called tsunami washes away eons of children and we are once again pitched back into a reality where we recognize how little control we really have.

I think Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian mass-murderer responsible for the killing of 77 fellow nationals on July 22, 2011, is like that wave.

Like the wave that arrived irrationally but quite naturally and washed over land in 13 countries in 2004, Breivik’s behaviour hints at his being both sane and insane. He gave us no notice of his well-thought-out plans, and even today, makes it impossible for us to define his core motivation for such evil and to see what lies within his soul that allows him to enact a mission contrary to a universal belief in the sacredness of human life.

Breivik makes us quiver and vibrate about our existence because his humanness is so inhumane.

Breivik is a steely character with an Aryan stare, look and demeanour, who spent three years diligently preparing for his crime, right down to a reminder to include bottled water in his backpack on the day of his rampage.

He studied Al Qaeda magazines for their successes and mistakes, and wrote a 1,500-page manifesto on the ills of multiculturalism and the Islamization of Norway. With the assiduousness of Nazi leadership, Breivik masterminded a flawless attack on Oslo and Utoya Island where teenagers affiliated with the country’s Labour Party were enjoying the summer.

Was this a regular Norwegian citizen’s commitment to his ideology and task at hand, a reflection of his insanity, his psychosis? Or are we to believe when he says, “The worst thing one can do is take a life,” that he is sane and indeed recognizes the difference between right and wrong and the illegality of murder?

Are we to trust in the cogency of his mind – compos mentis (literally, a composed mind) – when he tells the court he said to himself just before he started shooting, “I just don’t want to do this,” and “I knew it was wrong. Taking life is the most extreme action you can do.”

Did you know the prophets were considered insane by many because they foretold the future? So who is sane and who is insane? What are we to make of Anders Breivik? How human is he?

What are we to consider when Anders Breivik, like the average German citizen who participated freely and often excitedly in the chilling massacre of children during the Holocaust, appears on the world’s radar?

Breivik believed in his ideology. He thought he was right. Are we all from the same human family? How in control are we? When does the wave arrive?

avrum@veahavta.org

 

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