We want answers.
That is the very essence of human nature. From the beginning of recorded history, religious belief aside, the story Adam and Eve is one that demonstrates this inescapable essence of being. So powerful and fundamental was their desire for understanding that they risked divine wrath and ate “the forbidden fruit” from the tree of knowledge in order to satisfy their curiosity. That this is the first challenge presented in the recorded history of man’s existence, can certainly not be simple coincidence. It is a supremely wise and inspired message about curiosity and knowledge, about good and evil, truth and deception, right and wrong, good choices and bad choices, that drive our understanding of everything that follows.
Indeed some of the most significant events in history have been punctuated by the desire to reach an ultimate truth. To know. To understand. And to proclaim that this path of understanding is the right path, the only path, that explains everything. Why we are here. How we are here. What our purpose is in life.
We want answers.
I don’t believe either that it is a coincidence that in the same week that the Jewish people celebrate the fruitfulness of trees, in both literal and symbolic fashion, and the world commemorates the tragedy of the holocaust, that a figure of international prominence and arguable stature makes a statement that demonstrates so fundamentally how the failure to reconcile these very opposites is at the center of so much instability and suffering in the world today. And it has moved me to finally write down the thoughts that have been troubling me deeply for the past two weeks (at least). Because like so many, I want answers.
I have been struggling with how to process the horrific murder of a mother in front of her children. Like so many I felt anger, shock, disgust and confusion. What greater act of inhumanity could there possibly be? How much hatred and evil must a person be poisoned with to carry out such an act? What words could I possibly add to the chorus of voices crying out in anguish and fear and desperation that could possibly be of any value or purpose? What could I say that hasn’t already been said a hundred different ways, too many times? How could anyone hope to make a difference in the face of such indifference to humanity?
When I write, it is usually a personal exercise in catharsis with an aim to find clarity. And if I’m fortunate enough to strike a cord that might be worthy of sharing with others, that might achieve a higher purpose, only then do I consider publishing. But in this case, I could see no point. No promise. No hope.
The challenge was to process in some kind of meaningful way, an event that shook the very foundation of my beliefs not because it was something completely foreign and new, but because, in fact, it was not. It has become all too common and routine. I wanted answers, and there were none left.
No coverage by the global media. No lofty speeches of resolve by noble heads of state. No comforting words of wisdom from spiritual leaders. Words simply failed us all. And still we want answers.
We want answers from heaven above. We want answers from ourselves. We want answers from those who are responsible. We want answers for the persecutions and expulsions. We want answers for blood libels. We want answers for six million dead. We want answers for the rejection of peace. We want answers for the murder of a dreamer of civil rights and human dignity. We want answers for the assassination of courage. We answers for the terror of too many black Septembers. We want answers for brutal beheadings and torture. We want answers for the rockets and tunnels. We want answers for human shields. We want answers for 145 school children in Peshawar. We want answers for hundreds of young girls in Nigeria. We want answers for Syrians, Yezitis, Kurds and Coptic Christians who are being targeted for genocide. We want answers for “Charlie” and “a bunch of folks in a deli”. We want answers for the Bataclan massacre. We want answers for bigotry and incitement. We want answers for unilateral declarations of sovereignty that disregard international standards of the rule of law. We want answers for endless condemnations against one nation, while the rest of the world goes up in flames. We want answers for an institution that was founded on the principle of ending hatred and intolerance across the globe, but now seems to just look the other way, or worse perpetuates it.
We want answers because to deliberately cause human suffering is so fundamentally against human nature. We want answers because willful hatred and violence towards any human defies our comprehension of how things are supposed to be. We want answers because truth and knowledge are the only real antidotes to bigotry and evil.
We want answers because the only thing in this world that needs no explanation is love. And peace. It’s all any human being hopes for. And once I finally came to this realization, I recognized that as long as we keep looking for answers, our faith remains defined and unshakeable. That is human nature.
So to borrow from a speech by Sir Walter Citrine in 1936, speaking against the popular rise of the Nazi party in Germany, when those who present themselves at the international bar of justice, demanding fair treatment, have themselves destroyed every vestige of liberty, self-expression and human dignity, who have carried out a war of extermination by their own declaration and their own inhumanity, we should demand that they first put their own house in order.
Because one thing remains clear and certain: no matter how frustrated, humiliated or fearful we are, the brutal, bloody, stabbing murder of a mother in front of her children can never explained as “human nature”. It is as act that is as inhuman, as anti-human as it gets.
So with renewed, bold and courageous faith we will still want answers. Starting with Mr. Ban-Ki Moon. We want to know how someone with such a fundamentally flawed and morally corrupt understanding of human nature could possibly rise to a level of stature that earns him the title of Secretary-General of the United Nations. On the very day when the world declares “never again”, he declares “maybe, sometimes”.
Never means never! If he has any shred of human decency or understanding of human nature, he should resign.
We want answers. It’s just our nature.