It emerged on Monday that the CIA ‘had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to bring down a US-bound airline using a new underwear bomb around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death [on 2 May]. Terrorists in Yemen reportedly planned to use a device similar to the one that failed to explode on a plane to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 but American officials said the new bomb was significantly more sophisticated.’ (Telegraph) The bomb ‘was of a new non-metallic type aimed at getting past airport security’. (Guardian)
Yesterday, a rush hour bomb killed 55 in Damascus, Syria’s ‘worst terrorist attack since the start of the uprising… “Two booby-trapped cars loaded with more than 1,000kg of explosives and driven by suicide bombers carried out the terrorist blasts,” said the interior ministry. The explosions left two large craters.’ (Guardian)
To my mind, there is one fundamental difference between these actions and those of the nearly 30 Tibetan monks and nuns who have set themselves alight in protest at the Chinese occupation of their country: in the latter case, the ultimate act of self sacrifice doesn’t harm others. What the monks and nuns teach us, in the act of self immolation, is that there is no end to the responsibility we can take for ourselves and others in pursuit of a better society. Every true act of kindness or generosity that we engage in, however small, has something of this flavour of self-transcendence about it.
I feel certain that, by training ourselves in awareness, kindness and generosity, we can quietly, collectively and quite undramatically bring about a world in which suicide bombing becomes utterly unthinkable, a world in which the terrible act of self immolation is no longer necessary. And if you want a suggestion for an act of generosity today, why not give to the International Campaign for Tibet, which was supported by Adam Yauch who died last week, to help quench the fires of the Tibetan Spring.