A week after the New Year. Death while resurrection is celebrated.

First the bombs.

Then the bodies.

Next the curfew.

Childhood came calling.

In the shock, horror, despair, and tears there comes the inevitable search for causes. The who, how, and why must be known.

There’s playing into racist stereotypes as if the wrongdoers can be predicted in their wrongdoing by some purported formula. There are politicians vowing to catch the responsible as if their script allows them to say anything else. There are religious leaders publicly proclaiming the culprits must be pursued “mercilessly” as if their day job didn’t involve preaching forgiveness. There are cops taken off leave as if the state’s henchmen will restore order and bring justice. There’s outpouring of thoughts and prayers as if that will resurrect the dead. There’s censorship to control information spread. Then there’s curfew to control people spread. The search for causes will continue until those in power come up with a narrative a majority can believe or at least can pretend to believe. 

Yet none of that seems helpful.

Perhaps then we may take to assessing general numbers. Number of bombs. Number of bodies. Number of injured. Number of loved ones. Number of funerals to be planned. Number of culprits to be punished. Number of years since a time like this had come to pass (10 by some accounts referencing the end of the war). We may gravitate toward the numbers because they provide a sort of respite from the irrationality.

Or numbers might hold personal meaning. I was born in a time of curfew in 1989 that delayed the registration of my birth. I was terrified of the c word as a child internalizing the inevitable gloom that even the Colombo sunshine could not burn away. The word no longer strikes terror but is nevertheless still unsettling as I found out today. Maybe age makes one numb to fear. About 7 months after moving to the US, the Twin Towers were attacked. I’ve been back home a little over 7 months. Numbers seem just as unhelpful.

In War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy writes, “The more deeply we go into the causes, the more of them there are, and each individual cause, or group of causes, seems as justifiable as all the rest, and as false as all the rest in its worthlessness compared with the enormity of the actual events, and it’s further worthlessness (unless you combine it with all the other associated causes) in validating the events that followed.”

His answer: “Historical fatalism is the only possible explanation of irrational phenomena.”

That does not seem helpful either.