I haven’t wanted to comment the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last week that killed 298 people before now, mostly because the news is filled with reports about the plane, the crash site, the bodies decomposing in the sun waiting to be transported for autopsy, the search for the black boxes, the confusion about whether the crash site has been tampered with—all those things. It is unrelenting coverage, as well it should be. But I have thought about it every day since it happened. And instead of my rage against the perpetrators of this atrocity abating as time passes, it has only increased as I read about the horrors that this flight and its passengers must have endured, and what family members and loved ones are enduring as they wait for information about when the bodies will be transported home to the Netherlands and to other countries. I need only read about the type of missile that was allegedly used to take down the plane, one that explodes under the plane, facilitating the destruction of the plane via shrapnel that pierces the plane’s skin in multiple places, causing the plane to shear apart, and my rage intensifies. I realize that this tragedy, like the destruction of the Twin Towers in Manhattan on September 11, 2001 that killed almost 3000 people, and the murders of 92 people on the island of Utøya and in Oslo by the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik three years ago today, are versions of hell that are beyond our most horrific nightmares and imaginings. Hell exists, make no mistake about it. Unfortunately, it seems as innocent people are the ones who experience this hell on earth, not the evildoers who rightly deserve it.
There is a lot of evil in the world. We cannot close our eyes to it. We cannot pretend that it does not exist. Endless dialogue and peace conferences are not enough to convert evildoers to good people. That’s a fantasy. Evildoers must be punished. To ignore the existence of evil, to explain it away, or to feel sorry for the evildoers only allows for more of it. The downing of a civilian plane is an act of war; the perpetrators need to be brought to trial in an international court of law, found guilty, and sentenced. Whether or not that sentence is life in prison or death does not bother me. When you drag 298 innocent people into your war, you may pay with your life. That is justifiable, in my book. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. I don’t know how this particular case will be handled. I only know that there has to be swift and hard retribution so that the families and loved ones of those who died get justice.
But what does one do with the rage that one feels when faced with dealing and absorbing the impact of these events? I did not know anyone personally who died in any of these terrorist attacks, and yet, I have a rage inside of me that scares me. I don’t know what to do with it. It is an all-encompassing rage, an absolute rage, a rage that desires annihilation of the evildoers. It is a rage without end; years can pass, and suddenly I can watch a TV report about 9/11 or read an article about it, and the rage returns. If I have this kind of rage, what do those who lost family members and loved ones in these attacks feel? If they feel rage like this, how do they deal with it? I don’t consider myself an evil person, but certainly some of my thoughts are evil, in terms of the afflictions I hope the perpetrators of all these attacks will eventually suffer.