I don't know who this man in the picture is. But I don't have to.
I don't know if he is Israeli or Lebanese, Muslim or Jew, an innocent man or a killer himself. Maybe, for all I know, he flies an Israeli war plane or shoots Hezbollah rockets.
I just know he's another Dad. Just like me.
So I feel myself there, where he is, holding a bag containing everything that is precious to me and my life. That man may seem whole on first glance, but his eyes tell a different story. Within, his soul is a litter of shards strewn across a field of emptiness. All the meaning that his life held yesterday is there in his arms today, an inert lump inside a neatly-tied plastic baggie.
Do we dare to speak of healing, to talk of peace and diplomacy and international cooperation and the community of nations? Not to this man. It is hard to imagine that there will ever again be peace or healing or acceptance for him, as long as he lives. He has been blown through the deepest pit of Inferno, probably irretrievably. So precipitous was the destruction of his world that he missed the path of ascent. Will he ever find it again?
Do not waste your breath, talking to me of self-defense and the necessity of war. Instead, go there, find this man, and tell him clearly what his baby died for; for what religious or humanitarian ideal his own life was shattered. Tell him why he will never be whole, but always broken, until death reaches her merciful hand out to him, and he lightly and gratefully follows her. Speak to him of your hope for a new world order, of your belief in a just and vengeful God who spreads plagues upon the enemies of his chosen ones. Speak to him, if you will, of the delicacies and beauty that await him in heaven, of the opportunity he will have, if he will but follow, to join hands with the prophets and the martyrs, to be an insider within the Community of the Saints. Tell him about democracy and free markets; tell him about the brotherhood of mankind and the union of all nations and peoples. Tell him of the glorious future to come.
He will stare blankly back at you, uncomprehending. Because all he wants is yesterday, when his baby was whole and alive. If you can make him believe that you can get him yesterday back, he will follow you into every torment, through every region of Hell.
He already knows them all—better, I pray, than you or I ever will.
The photo came to me via Exo at the Deficient Brain weblog.