I have a hobby, or is it a compulsion, to do with watching box sets on television. Recently I have been both engrossed and then appalled by a docu-drama based on the life of Pablo Escobar. As the episodes progress I watched him and the henchmen he employs morph from comprehensible if disturbing human beings into something entirely disconnected from those cares and values which bind humanity together, however varied our cultures. In the script there is a professional killer who carries his bible with him everywhere and always finds a quote from it to justify the next homicide, but without any sense of irony. This world is full of people who admit to no value other than a perverted sense of honour: It’s all about the strategy and pride.
“Chilling” is the word that comes to mind, and as I reflected upon this ISIS committed another horrific and barbarous act; this time in Brussels, a barbarism echoed by the Taliban in Lahore. I can almost hear Escobar saying “We need to make these people take us seriously. If they kill one of ours we will destroy a thousand of theirs,” and so on.
The sheer disconnected barbarity and rationalised inhumanity central to the outlook of the terrorist was made more real to me by watching the series which explained their mind-set in a way nothing else has done. Each of Escobar’s killers prayed before going on his latest “job” in a perverted mimicry of catholic faith.
The expanding cycle of terrorism, and the use of a religion, be it Christianity or Islam, to justify acts which are profoundly uncivilised is a sickening and frightening modern phenomenon which I have struggled to comprehend. Watching that thuggery on the screen, carried out by people who still saw themselves as humans with moral values made this modern horror story more comprehensible to me: that’s what a good drama gives you: it illuminates your perceptions with experiences outside your own. It makes the world more comprehensible, however disturbing that vision may be.