In an interview this week details were released on the bombings in October which killed 170 people in the crowd gathered to welcome once and future Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan.
Apparently the primary trigger for the sequence of coordinated suicide bombings in the crowd was a bomb wired into the clothing of a one-year-old infant whose father, also wearing a bomb, attempted to pass the baby through the crowd to Bhutto and almost reached her. The plan was that the bombs would be triggered when Bhutto – in the tradition of mothers and politicians everywhere – grabbed the baby and gave it a hug. The baby had almost reached Bhutto when the plan went awry because she bent down to loosen her painful shoes. Seeing this, the baby was detonated remotedly and bombs ripped through the crowd ultimately killing 170 and wounding hundreds more.
No one should ever have to write the phrase “the baby was detonated remotely.” No one should ever have to read it either. What price are you willing to pay not to see that phrase written or hear it spoken on the radio or television? I guess one price could be the end of free speech. We could censor the news or just report good news, or voluntarily ignore the news. I guess that the ignorance of turning our back on the ugly parts of reality would be a relatively small price to pay.
The catch is that problems ignored don’t actually go away. ‘Out of sight and out of mind’ works for a while, but in the long term whatever you were ignoring eventually comes back and usually worse than it was before. If your Visa bill is huge and you pretend it doesn’t exist, eventually collection agents start harassing you and for a much higher balance. If you have cancer and ignore it, it doesn’t just disappear. Eventually it kills you.
You pay a higher price to actually solve problems on a permanent basis and you do it by treating the root causes and not by ignoring the symptoms. When the body has a cancer you cut it out and you pay the huge Visa bill by whatever means you can, because the price you pay for ignoring critical problems is intolerable.
A baby wired to explode is the kind of symptom you cannot ignore. It represents a societal cancer which cannot be wished away and which will spread, just as cancer does, through the entire body of human civilization. To treat that cancer you need the correct diagnosis, and that means weeding out false leads which may seem appealing. The cause is not capitalist greed or American imperialism or television or even George W. Bush, no matter how irritating they are.
Like so much of the terrorism in the world, this was an attack of muslim on muslim, directed by religious fanatics at a woman who symbolizes the more moderate and more liberal forces within their society. The root problem – the source of the infection – is the mentality which would sacrifice an innocent child to destroy someone they see as a challenge to their power and influence. It is an inherently inhuman perspective and it is utterly incompatible with civilized society.
This brings us back to the question. Do we close our eyes and pretend that there are not people in the world who wire babies with bombs? Or do we face reality and pay the price to treat the cancer which they represent before it spreads and destroys civilized society throughout the world?