murderers and humanity

I’m still thinking about and processing the violent, terrorist acts committed against George Tiller and yesterday at the National Holocaust Museum.  I’ve been

This image is what so profoundly affected me at the National Holocaust Museum.
This image is what so profoundly affected me at the National Holocaust Museum.

 to the Holocaust Museum twice, and both times, it profoundly affected me.  I remember sitting on the floor in a room filled with Holocaust victims’ shoes, sobbing.  This room is toward the end of the museum, and yet it moved me more than anything else in the museum.  Perhaps because of the idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Perhaps because it just engaged all my senses.  I could even SMELL the shoes.  Visiting that museum  gave me both a profound sense of the evil humans are capable of perpetrating on one another, but also of the indomitability of the human spirit.  You can try to take away someone’s humanity.  Treat them like animals.  Attempt to eradicate them.  But you can’t control someone’s spirit.  You can’t take away their faith.  

 

In the wake of horrible tragedies, it is easy to see the perpetrators as not human.  I’m guilty of it.  I am a pacifist, generally, but in the wake of something awful that one human has done to another, I know what it is to want vengeance, to want an eye for an eye, though I rationally know that this “leaves the whole world blind.”  I know, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder.”  While it may be easier to simply dismiss these hate-filled killers as somehow less than human, it just isn’t right.  The Nazis, in all their horrific violence, were still humans.  Scott Roeder is a human.  James von Brunn, hateful as his prejudices are to me, is a human.  Someone loved them.  These killers were someone’s babies.  How did they get from there to where they are now?  I don’t know, but it’s worth exploring.  People may hate, and people may have prejudices, but a variety of factors contribute to making a hateful person into a murderer, a terrorist. Continue reading “murderers and humanity”