The Fractured Nation Interviews
Eulogy for a Prodigal Son
As you are probably already aware, one of our more delightful and thoughtful guest, and a good friend, Dr. T. Boom-Boom Singh, was killed yesterday when a car bomb exploded outside his official residence. We mourn his loss, the loss of his wife, two of his five children and the innocent well-wishers a man of Boom-Boom’s stature and reputation invariably attracts.
Two groups are vying for the honour of having killed so many innocent people. Boom-Boom’s crime, according to official communiqués from The Army of Allah The Compassionate and The Army of Allah the Merciful, was suggesting that their god was conceited and enjoyed inflicting pain. No explanation was given as to why so many had to die for this alleged insult to Allah by an honest man offering an honest opinion.
No doubt the authorities will quickly sort out whose army deserves the credit for this legally justifiable massacre and it will receive a heartfelt apology for the alleged distressing remarks Dr. Singh made on this program.
What can someone say about Dr. Singh, the former terrorist, father, humanitarian, statesman that hasn’t already been said? He got his nickname Boom-Boom by doing some of the same things that his assassins did to him. Poetic justice some have claimed. They did not know him.
Boom-Boom was not a religious man. This is probably why the violence he did and the violence he inspired never reached the level of barbarity and depravity that religion provokes.
He was, for most of his adult life, a spiritual man in the best tradition of Eastern religions, some would say Eastern mysticism. He believed that there is more to this mortal existence, but did not claim to have a special knowledge of why we are here, or that we are here to serve some invisible benevolent or tyrannical, omnipotent deity. He was not an arrogant man.
Eastern spirituality informs us that we are part of the universe, not apart, as claimed by the three so-called great monotheistic religions that came out of the deserts of the Middle East.
Acknowledging that he was a part of Creation, it was only a matter of time before Boom-Boom realised that by harming others he was harming himself. This self-mutilation was insanity, and this insanity had to stop.
He cured himself, then made it his life’s work to help others. He began to live his life according to that simple rule for getting along from Mencius, a Confucian philosopher who, almost three hundred years before another great teacher of the humanities would take up the theme, said: “All things are within me, and on self-examination, I find no greater joy than to be true to myself. We should do our best to treat others as we wish to be treated. Nothing is more appropriate than to seek after goodness.”
A young Boom-Boom believed that violence was justified to help the powerless and the poor overcome the real and imagined oppression of the rich and powerful. He killed, and risked his own life believing he was helping the oppressed. He grew to realize this was an irrational justification for murder.
Are those who murder and maim the innocent and the defenseless in the name of Allah suffering from a similar delusion, or do they have a license to kill, a god-given right to murder and mutilate? Do they have any claim to a higher purpose for the horrors they unleash in their god's name.
The revered hero of Islamic terrorists is Muhammad Atta. You may remember him as the leader of the terrorist group who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, killing almost 3,000 innocent unsuspecting men, women and children.
Atta left a note of encouragement for his fellow murderers. He wrote, and I quote: “Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out.”
So many innocent people dying a horrible death, some blown to bits; others burnt alive by exploding jet fuel; others falling or jumping to their death in the plaza below to escape the fire above; the survivors of the initial attack crushed between slabs of concrete as the buildings collapsed, their lives squeezed out of them like so much toothpaste.
AND FOR WHAT? To satisfy merciless young men’s sexual fantasies about grateful women waiting for them, a token of their god's appreciation for the atrocity they were about to commit.
Confucianism, not unlike the teachings of the Greek philosophers of antiquity, also informs us that “correct conduct arises, not through external force, but as a result of virtues developed internally through the observation of laudable models of behaviour.”
For the murderers of the innocent there is an external force, it is a uncompromising, vengeful god called Allah; their laudable model of behaviour, the Prophet Muhammad, the man who delivered His Message that unbelievers and those who don't believe with absolute certainty are not deserving of mercy or compassion.
Muslim children are taught, at the earliest possible age, to fear this Allah and to be wary of, if not to hate anyone who does not fear Him or acknowledge His existence and supremacy.
In adulthood, sometimes as teenagers, at the slightest provocation they will strike, not always out of hate, but out of fear of what this Allah will do to them if they don’t kill those who don’t fear or acknowledge Him, and only Him, and submit to His Will.
Is there any hope that men who commit unspeakable atrocities in the name of a god such as Allah will change for the better the way Boom-Boom did? We can only hope.
I will, we will miss you Boom-Boom.