Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thoughts on Terrorist Plots

It's not without a certain amount of trepidation that I watch the unfolding news of the terrorist plot to blow up airplanes bound from Heathrow to the U.S. using liquid explosives disguised as everyday objects like drinks, shampoo, conditioner, and other benign things. With the amount of flying I've been doing lately, the thought that someone would willingly get on a plane with the sole purpose of blasting it into oblivion just creeps me out.

As a writer, I should be able to put myself in the mindset of any number of other people with goals, experiences, and motivations different from my own. But I cannot understand the motivation behind a suicide terrorist. I'm not sure I'd even want to.

Terrorist , John Updike's newest novel, does just that -- it gets inside the head of someone bent on causing death and destruction. Updike is arguably one of the greatest living American authors. Perhaps one of the reasons why is because he's not afraid to delve into the sorts of questions most of us shrink from.

I wonder why those who are urged to give their lives for a "glorious cause" never stop to question why their leaders don't lead by example. By definition, that which we cannot understand scares us -- hence my healthy fear of people who want to blow up planes on which they are passengers. Completely foreign territory...

As I board the plane to fly to Hawaii next Wednesday, I'll try to push such thoughts firmly from my mind. No telling yet how successful that will be...