When senseless acts of terrorism occur, a single message echoes throughout conversations and all-company emails alike: how could there be such evil in world?
This reaction puzzles me. When we experience an act of senseless-goodness, we bookmark it as an indication of innate morality and hope. However, when we experience an act of senseless-badness, on any scale, we militantly refute the assumption that it says something about our species. We’ll inevitably spend the next few weeks wondering how someone could have done something like this. Eventually, our murmurings will fizzle out, a year or so will pass, a similar attack will happen, and we’ll all immediately up-cycle the same ethical maxims, wondering “how could anyone have done something like this?!”
It’s good that we cannot empathize. But I can’t shake the feeling that we are wrong to be so surprised. Regardless of a country’s political situation (I'm as frustrated as any of us), senselessly evil things have always happened (our postcolonial society can only be blamed for randomizing and de-institutionalizing terrorism), and I imagine I’m not the only one who’s tired of feeling like the world has gone to shit in the relentless wake of these events. I think I understand it now. The only thing paining us—the physically unaffected but politically present populous—apart from momentary sympathy pains from watching graphic videos, is our expectations. Having high moral standards is helpful for personal and philanthropic causes, but the assumption that nothing like this is going to happen again is only causing us grief.
Want to make the world a better place? Start loving people so relentlessly that no one’s mind has the chance to get confused or twisted enough to kill innocent people. And until we can ensure that everyone does so, if you want to make the world feel better, adjust your expectations.