Sunday, May 07, 2006

Out of Desert Poverty, a Caldron of Rage in the Sinai - New York Times

It's pretty easy to sit and wonder what on earth could turn someone into a suicide bomber if you are sitting in relative comfort. Suicide, in itself, is difficult to comprehend for most of us. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison has written an excellent and extremely readable book on the subject called Night Falls Fast that helps a great deal. According to her, suicide is essentially an act that is an expression of utter despair and hopelessness of a nature that most of us will be most happy never to experience. This despair and hopelessness may have its roots in a biochemical imbalance, as it would with someone suffering from severe depression. These are the suicides that most people are more familiar with. On the other hand, I recall talking to a psychiatrist friend of mine not long after my husband died, when I had banks and companies chasing me with open jaws, and expressing a concern that my longterm nemesis, chronic depression had resurfaced. My friend looked at me for a while and then told me not to worry. "It isn't that you are just feeling bad right now, Maryanne. The truth is that your life is perfectly horrible. There is a difference between depression and a totally unlivable life." He offered to prescribe something that would help me to make it through the rough times and made a point of telling me that when life got better I wouldn't be needing the help.

But what do you do when life simply isn't going to get better? When every door and window is locked and you have no hope of moving to a livable situation? I hate to say it, but I think I can understand and I believe that governments all over the world need to examine their policies to see that people are not cornered in the way that those who have committed suicide bombings are cornered. It's one thing when hopeless people kill themselves, a tragedy that harms everyone who loves them, but when they are so hopeless that they go out and try to kill others, who often have little or nothing to do with the original hopelessness, it is doubly tragic.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm. While I think it is important to highlight the difficult situation that many Bedouins live in, I don't think they were responsible for the Sinai bombings. This is the official Egyptian government line, but I don't buy it for a second.

Don Cox said...

I think the willing suicide bombers are not desperate but are mostly cult victims, like the people in Jonestown. Others are fathers whose wives and/or children have been kidnapped. They are told they must drive a vehicle to a certain place or their relatives will die in agony. Many of these people also have been found to be chained or handcuffed to the wheel.

April said...

very insightful and very true...