Addis Ababa Bombings

If you have ever wanted to know what you think of terrorism, try and be in a city that has just had bombs go off in a public place. This is what happened in Addis Ababa (where I am staying for now) on Friday when at least six explosions went off and killed three Ethiopians while wounding a score.

This is the third city I have been in (the others being New York and London) where civilians have been targeted by groups pursuing some kind of political agenda. I cannot stand it. It is fashionable to point to the political oppression or marginalization endured by certain groups and to conclude as understandable or even supportable those among them who choose in turn to terrorize other civilians. But being in a targeted city, not knowing whether the minibus you are riding in will explode or whether the car parked outside the cafe in which you are having coffee has a bomb in it is unbearable. I guess that is the whole point of the exercise, to make the state appear to have no control or for the state itself to wield such violence to justify its authoritarian controls. Either way, if you are a civilian it just means that you are a sitting dark, waiting for men in the shadows to make of your body and life what they will. It sounds such a discordant note to the control I have come to consider I have over my life – that there is someone somewhere who wants to make a point to someone else through my bloody remains. I think that the people in this city are very hardy. Perhaps they are made so by their history which is bloody and peopled with leaders who considered their lives expendable.

Terrorism’s great evil is in considering a stranger’s life expendable in a cause that is at most indirectly connected to that person. Whether you are bombing a ‘target’ from thousands of feet in the air knowing that you will kill a stranger or swinging a machete at them or blowing yourself up with him, the evil is in not knowing what you have brought to an end. What gross ego to consider that single life with its incalculable threads of obligation and love and hope to be irrelevant to the ideas and feelings swimming around inside you. This is why I dislike ideologues nowadays. At the logical extreme of their words lies death for strangers and privilege for themselves. I particularly dislike the ones who would mouth ideologies, especially radical ones, without having the good grace to accept that the road to their utopia is littered with broken bodies. Better those grim types who know exactly what they are willing to do to realize their plans rather than the soft self indulgence that would celebrate death at a distance while holding onto moral uprightness. I feel for those three people and their families and can only guess at the rage and despair that their deaths have caused. All for some arsehole to feel bigger and better.


About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

6 Responses to Addis Ababa Bombings

  1. kamau says:

    Very well said, I have always had a very deep suspicion of moralist, especially when violence of one sort or another is required to reach their moral goals.

    I think we should dispense with all forms of moral arguments and their codes and really call it for what they are our interests. I am not saying that all interests are all good or all bad; I am saying that discussing our interests is a lot more truthful and purposeful than moral stances and the violence required in archiving them.

  2. stonelifter says:

    Yes it seems the human condition to bend other peoples wills to ones own regardless of the method. It is so pathetic an laughable if it were not for the fact that these people are willing to sacrifice themselves and you and I.

  3. HASH says:

    Wow! Again, I remember why I like your blog so much. This has to be one of the best quotes I’ve come by in a while:

    “What gross ego to consider that single life with its incalculable threads of obligation and love and hope to be irrelevant to the ideas and feelings swimming around inside you.”

    Keep writing!


  4. MMK says:

    Kamau – You are a man taken with identifying interests and not the disguises worn to hide them. It must make for a lot more clarity in the way that you see the world. But I also detect in such black and white formulations the risk of missing out on the fact that people are also driven by moral factors, by interests that are non-material.

    stonelifter – have you been visiting lately? I have missed your comments and interventions. How goes the summer?

    hash – for such kind words I must say thank you and name you the greatest human being in the world 🙂

  5. amegon says:

    Kamau: according to your reasoning, there are no moral values, ergo there are no wrong actions, ergo killing a human being is not wrong, ergo this whole discussion is useless.

  6. Peg says:

    Having been one who ran in sheer terror on 9/11 after a long and harrowing trip through a stairwell… I must say that the edge of reason stays perilously distant at times. On a recent trip to Beijing I found time to stand dead center in the Square. I mention this as since 9/11 I have found profound comfort from others who have suffered this horrendous and ever repeating world affliction. Terrorism, or whatever politically correct phrase is now being used, or just plain old random acts of evil as I referred to them are beyong comprehension. How indeed could a janitor cleaning the 84th floor of the WTC further a cause by dying so horribly. There, I’ve ranted enough. I found myself compelled to respond if only to say, you are a gift and talented writer with much to say that NEEDS to be said… over over…

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