The Hess Report

Monday, October 11, 2004

But What Have They Done To You?

I love to wrestle with my kids (4 and almost 7). It's fun, good exercise (for them, duh), and, I suppose, somehow mildly educational. They like to pretend that they're super heroes (Pinkie Twinkie and Lavender Flower) fighting the evil Hedgehog Head (me). Or, we play a game called Trap and Rescue, in which I grab one of them whom I threaten to bite/tickle/hoist, whereupon the other one "sneaks" up on me and clobbers me with a pillow or a kick to the kidneys. The one who was captured then escapes, but I grab the one who just attacked. Repeat. Sometimes, if they both have me pinned down, I turn into the Hulk and they laugh and squeal as I hurl them through the air and onto the couch. It's fun.

Screech your tires and shift gears now. As everyone knows, three years ago Islamic fascists murdered three thousand Americans. Since then, they've likewise killed hundreds of others around the world: Christian, Muslim, Jew and unaligned. The U.S. and coalition nations have expended at the very least a thousand military lives fighting them in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other, less well-disclosed theaters. But unless you know someone, directly or indirectly, who is one of those casualty statistics, what have the terrorists really done to you? Made you wait an extra hour or two at the airport, mostly due to unnecessarily PC searches and screening? Cost you some $ at the gas pump, more due to fears of instability in the oil supply than actual shortage? Have they really affected our daily American lives all that much?

Errrrch! Whip around the corner and shift again. I followed the Beslan siege via a website whose owner was watching local Russian TV news and translating into English. My first thought was that everyone in the school was as good as dead. Russian forces were in a terrible position, tactically. The fact that the terrorists had been able to have explosives built right in during construction about as bad as it could be. As the siege dragged into several days, I began to wonder if maybe there could actually be a decent, humane resolution. I don't believe that God intervenes directly in the natural process of the world. Therefore, I don't believe in praying for specific things to happen, or for wrongs to be righted, or for the sick to miraculously become better. But I found myself praying for these people. But then, apparently, someone either got too jumpy, or a detonator malfunctioned, and some of the structural explosives went off. Chaos ensued, including terrorists masquerading as wounded civilians, free fire directed at fleeing children, and furious locals accidentally shooting Russian commandos in the back. Hundreds were killed. Hundreds more were injured. I just read a partial listing of the gruesome hospital report this morning. It was very nearly the worst possible outcome.

Afterward, stories emerged from the survivors. In case you weren't aware, the terrorists had herded everyone that had not been killed in the initial assault into the stifling gymnasium. Whole families. Kids: babies through teenagers. Moms. No men, because they had all either been shot or blown to bits in a hallway by one of the suiciders. Over the next several days, the kids were told that the school's water was poisoned, so they had nothing to drink. They had to watch as the terrorists shot other kids, as insane fanatics blew themselves and others up with bomb-vests, as some of the evil bastards bayoneted infants and toddlers. They had to listen as teenage girls were dragged into another room and raped. The aforementioned website owner posted screen captures from Russian TV which were much more graphic than anything we saw in American coverage of the attack. I don't normally seek out this sort of thing, but as I had followed the whole thing so intently, I almost felt I was morally obliged to witness the carnage that the Islamic terrorists had wreaked on the little bodies. This was absolute barbarity. The equivalent or worse happened in Rwanda, during the Nazi advance, in the South Pacific as the Japanese military devoured everything in its path, in the Sudan right now. But I didn't follow those like I followed this.

This hit me. I felt it, and it hurt.

Which brings me back to the beginning, and what the terrorist have done to me, personally. I can't wrestle with my girls anymore. I've tried a couple of times, but I've had to stop. Maddie will say: "I'm tough. My dad taught me how to fight!" as she attacks, game for whatever I'll dish out. And I see some kid in Beslan try to stand up to one of these armed barbarians, and get stuck through the stomach with a bayonet. The picture rises in my mind, and it won't go away. The girls want me to throw them onto the couch, and all I can see is some poor terrified toddler hurled with full force into a cement block wall. I cradled my girls frail little bodies when they were sick or sleepy or just cuddling, and I know what that would do to them. Or they pretend that they really really have me pinned this time, and usually I would pretend that they had, but I'm stuck with the graphic knowledge of exactly how easily the casual violence or a grown man can negate even the most outrageous fury of a child. As I said, I can't wrestle with them anymore.

I'll keep trying, though, because I think it's a valuable way to spend time with them. They enjoy it. I keep working at it, and each time I've tried, the thoughts of Beslan get a little further away.

It's funny that I've written this, as I can't even talk about it out loud. I actually don't think I could force these words out of my mouth. But writing it is a way of tricking myself into letting some of it out. While I'm writing, it feels private. Only a few simple clicks though, deliberate efforts of will, and it's out. Maybe it will help me to wrestle again sooner.

Note: On the off off chance that some terrorist sympathizer or America-hater reads this at some point and thinks: Ha! We must be hurting them! What a sorry whiner! I have this to say: incidents like this one, though they hurt us, only increase our resolve that our children will not grow up in a world upon which you evil swine have even the slightest influence. If you come to our country and try this, you'll find out that what you think of as jihad is just a passing fad. You'll learn what a real holy war looks like when an entire nation of well-armed, quickly-deputized men and women hunt your sorry asses down and send you screaming straight to Hell. A victory for you? I don't think so.

Got to go now. I hear the kids outside, and I think they need a hug from their dad.

Thank you for this post. The Beslan tragedy makes me physically ill - how could it not? I appreciate your willingness to share how it has changed you. You may not believe that God intervenes in this world, but I believe a just God designed a special place in Hell for these terrorists and a special place in His Kingdom for those sweet children that were slain.
Do you really believe that God does not intervene directly in the natural process of the world and that it's therefore ineffective to pray for "specific things to happen, or for wrongs to be righted, or for the sick to miraculously become better"? Consider the following:

Jerimiah 33:3 -- Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Mat 6:13 -- . . . but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

I Thes 5:17 -- Pray without ceasing.

James 5:16b -- The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

You might want to consider getting the book "Getting Things from God." It's an old book, written in the 1920s I think, and is full of example after example of the Lord answering prayer directly. It also offers scripturally based insight regarding why our prayers may not be heard.

More to follow,

None of the four scriptural references promise direct, interventionary physcial action as an answer to prayer.

Righteous people pray fervently, and have their requests go unanswered in their preferred way. Great tragedy ensues. Inevitably, the answer is that it is a part of God's "plan," and that some greater good will come of it. Conversely, random good things happen to the unrighteous, without supplication. Their cancer sometimes spontaneously remits. If God's plan is what it is, then what is this kind of prayer? Asking God to alter His perfect plan? And why would He then do such a thing? Would He not do the best thing possible?

Jesus says in Matthew that the Lord sends sun and rain on the just and the unjust alike. I read that to mean that the imperfect world assaults us all, without regard to religious affiliation.

I am not saying that God does not exert influence. I believe that he does so, through his prayerful people. He does not, however, stop bullets. And if He did, it would not be on request.
I have Russian friends who know a lot more about it than me, and while they (everyone I know)was utterly horrified about the events in Beslan they point out that the Russian conduct in Chechnya is just a bad and on a much greater scale. I wouldn't be so upset if it was grown men fighting each other but that whole thing is two groups of people indiscriminately massacring each other. Bad news, same old story.
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