Of Mankind And War

In a season of so much senseless carnage on our home front, it’s difficult to put anything coherent into words, much less wise or helpful. When people seek to destroy other people, it just doesn’t compute.

The only way I can put the recent bombings and murders in elementary schools into perspective is to look at history and to remind myself that, while horrendous, events like these are nothing new. Mankind is at war and really always has been.

As far back as recorded history, cultures have clashed. Almost 2,500 years ago (484 B.C.-430 B.C.), Herodotus, a Greek known as the father of history, wrote in The Histories of Herodotus, “In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children.”

Herodotus confirmed that war, a fixture in the world across history, brings harm to innocents inevitably causing parents to “inter their children.”

I pray I never have to bury a child of mine. It must be the most devastating of all experiences. How could Bill Richard imagine he’d be burying his 8-year-old son, Martin, only three days after finishing the prestigious Boston Marathon; that his wife, Denise, would be recovering from brain surgery and his little daughter from a leg amputation after an IED – the kind used to kill our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – would explode on them?

But does a bombing by one or two bombers qualify as war?

One dictionary definition says to be “at war” is to be “in an active state of confusion.” Terrorism, an act of war whether perpetrated by organized groups like alQaida or a lone actor, is certainly meant to instill fear and create confusion. Radicals inside and outside of the U.S. are at war for different reasons: Some hate the government, some our alliance with Israel; some are at war with bankers and investors, some with those who provide abortions, others with those who cut down trees.

Extremist groups have perpetrated acts of war against the U.S. for decades. In the mid- to late 1970s, airplane hijackings and hostage-taking almost were commonplace.

The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a group formed in prisons, kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in February 1974, holding her for ransom while robbing banks. In March 1977, 149 hostages were held by 12 Hanafi Muslim gunmen, disgruntled former Nation of Islam members. They commandeered three buildings in Washington, D.C., and killed a reporter, police officer and shot then-D.C. Councilmember (later mayor) Marion Barry.

Well before Sept. 11, 2001, dozens of attacks occurred against the U.S. at home and abroad.

American hostages taken in Iran, the 1983 bombing and deaths of 241 Marines in Beirut, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the bombing of the USS Cole and the 1993 World Trade Center, bombing the American Embassy in Nairobi, and a recent attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Besides al-Qaida, six or seven other key terrorist groups in the Middle East would celebrate if the U.S. went up in smoke. In fact, Israel News Agency, Jerusalem, reported April 15 that “Shortly after terror bombs exploded and murdered over 12 people at the Boston Marathon, members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were reported to be dancing in the streets of Gaza, handing out candies to passersby.”

I do appreciate President Obama calling the bombings in Boston evil. Despite the ideology people and groups embrace as justification for violence against Americans, only evil intentionally kills innocent children.

Even if war has proven to be the natural state of mankind, can’t we still hope and strive for better? For the sake of the innocents?