Sunday, 24 July 2011
A person with a belief
Like Mills, Anders Behring Breivik certainly can be described as having "beliefs". Described as right wing politically, anti- Muslim and a fundamentalist Christian, linked to the Tea Party, and known to comment on several political and religious websites, he clearly had an acute interest in ideology. Nor did he lack emotion. I couldn't help noticing that the paper I got this morning described him as "cold and heartless" in one article, whilst explaining in another that "he would have been in the grip of a slow burning anger" against the world. Well, slow burning anger is certainly an emotion - and has to be compelling to find expression in such an extreme way. What Anders Behring Breivik lacked was not the ability to think or to feel, simpy the ability to feel on behalf of others, to experience empathy. It is very likely that he was at the centre of his universe and may not have recognised other human beings (certainly those who were Muslim or left wing) as anything other than "the other."
I do not want to comment at length on this tragic and horrible event, nor the person behind it. Many aspects leave me deeply uneasy, the way that several newspapers initially reported it as an Al Qaeda massacre seems rather ironic given Anders Behring Breivik's anti-Muslim views, and - so close to the demise of The News of the World - I can't help feeling that grubby recognition that this is a gift for the newspapers and media and that what is simply a colossal pointless waste and utterly needless, meaningless heartbreak for so many can be in danger of being turned into entertainment for all of us. There is a bit of a "wow factor" when someone acts in such an extreme and horrific way and there is a fascination in all of us about the mindset behind it - and isn't that reaction partly what Anders Behring Breivik sought?
I come back to the title of this post - a person with a belief. The events in Norway make me feel that it matters very little what our beliefs actually are; just that Christ's commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves should override - or underpin - each and every one of them.