Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Philosopher and the Psychopath

"One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests." The statement by John Stuart Mill was on the Facebook page of the man believed to have [alone] caused the deadly explosions in Oslo yesterday. He is the same man who went to a children's camp and shot eeveral children a few days ago. Clearly he is a madman, assuming the police are correct about his identity as responsible for both horrors. At the last report 90 people were killed in the explosions.

We are quick to blame cabals of terrorists for such attacks yet Mill's statement about the effect of one man with an overwhelming belief is obviously true. It was not quite one man -- rather it was two -- who committed the Oklahoma City attack, our home grown terrorists. They had a belief. I wonder what twisted belief would make a man shoot innocent children and then plant bombs in a busy building in a peaceful city? Perhaps I don't even want to know what the belief was.

To switch the idea around, from one person believing that violence is the way to express his belief, to one person doing good with an overwhelming belief, we have to think of Ghandi,

Mill contrasted belief with mere interests. Most of us have many interests; perhaps it is a good thing not very many of us have truly strong beliefs since violence seems so much easier than nonviolene.

1 comment:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- I can't get my mind around this atrocity -- all I can think of are the children and their grieving families. This extremist is unworthy of any feelings from me. I have thoughts about this incident but like I said -- they are really frazzled in my mind right now. -- barbara