Thursday, April 11, 2013

Headlines of Yesterday

This sounds like one of the saddest situations to come out of the whole too small to succeed, indeed too small to even get your name in a story which ends with 'the gunman dead.' This guy did not take some child hostage, he took 5 young -- tough -- trained -- firemen, hostage. 

Nor did the negotiations with a swat team last long, but I don't know, maybe they had to move in.  The thing is -- he wanted his electric power turned back on, in his home which was being foreclosed on. We are wired to everything in this world. And I can imagine the panic, the aggravation, the rage, the sense of undeserved injury, that man felt. And our being able to put ourselves in his place is an aspect of how we are all wired into the larger world.

But  what is the logic of hostage taking? This sense of being in a corner and trapped, okay. But adding a mind to a physical animal, how do you get to the point where it makes any sense to hold another person prisoner to exchange for your demands being met? Why would you think they would carry through on any promises some negotiator made? Apart from anything else, promises made under duress are not binding. And then there is the statistically significant outcome wherein you are gunned down like a dog.

All this points to the fact  hostage taking shows a great faith in the logic of the mind. A faith in words, a belief in the things you learned in school. That is one conclusion to draw from the actions of hostage takers: I have this, if you want it, you must give me such and such. That this is fantastically out of touch merely means that the logic of the hostage taker is ordinary. 

No doubt many will say he was irrational. Well sure, but what does that really explain? There is something else to be gleaned. It may be that we see a subterranean logic at work here, a hormonal wisdom, which is just, out of step with the times. Because for millenia fleeing was a sensible, and often used, tactic. Jan Cox, mystico-philosopher of the last century, pointed out that for the first time in history, there is now, no place to flee to.  When there were woods to hide you, and far valleys where the only sure thing was, that your enemies could not find you, there was a horizon of some kind of freedom for the sturdy. The logic of the man pushed to desperate measures may rely on this ancient knowledge,a forlorn but not irrational, knowledge.