The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.
Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.
Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.
The picture of two young children standing near a dead body outside of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is a startling image. In the report from The Daily Mail the small boy wearing an “I (heart) NY” shirt said “you’re a very bad man,” to the gunman during Saturday’s attack, which killed dozens and injured more than 100.
The gunman was a bit stunned by the words of boy and responded “Please forgive me, we are not monsters,” the Sun reported the gunman saying.
If every non-gunman at the Westgate Mall was polled, I believe the poll results would be overwhelmingly indicative of the opinion that the gunman IS a monster. His opinion therefore is an outlier and not grounded in fact.
How could this gunman believe that he wasn’t a monster? Did he believe that he was doing good? If so, who was he benefiting by shooting innocent women and children?
The statement by the gunman caused me to try to understand the mindset of this gunman.
- This gunman joined an al Qaeda affiliate despite knowing that al Qaeda exists only to kill, steal and destroy. (see the world trade center) This gunman must also have had an insatiable desire to kill, steal and destroy.
- al Qaeda must be able to brainwash or delude its followers into believing that there is some greater cause for which they are to kill, steal and destroy. They must teach that the ends justify the means. But what are the ends that al Qaeda is hoping to achieve?
- This gunman, from his response, is not a psychotic crazy person who just enjoys killing. He was apparently remorseful for his actions, but not remorseful enough to stop killing.
- The self-delusion that this gunman possessed is absolutely astounding. He had lied to himself in believing that he wasn’t a bad person, while being internally conflicted between his actions and the lies that he was believing.
- From the latest Kenyan news released, the Kenyan military has taken full control of the mall and killed all of the gunmen. Presumably, it also includes this particular gunman.
- He gave his life for his cause, but what did he really accomplish? He gave the sane people in this world more reason to hate al Qaeda and radical Islam. He has destroyed countless families and scarred numerous others. The incident has given the rest of the world more reason to question even moderate Islam, which is strangely quiet following this event.
- The gunman clearly had an inability to think long term and was not able to contemplate the consequences of his actions.
- The gunman obviously could not differentiate between the lies he was being told and reality.
- The followers of al Qaeda are incapable of thinking for themselves and are easily led. It preys on the weak minded and convinces them to do terrible things.
- Self-rationalizing is the strongest human drive and I would really like to know how this gunman could rationalize this barbaric brutal despicable behavior, especially considering that he had some remnants of a conscience.
There is an unescapable conclusion that this type of barbaric behavior can't be understood or rationalized. Evil is not rational.
Note: While enjoying a Chipotle chicken Panini at Panera’s, I had overheard the conversation at the next table in which 4 men were discussing the events at the Westgate Mall in Kenya. One person had the opinion that there are no moderates in Islam. There is only one brand of Islam, but some are too cowardly to wear a suicide belt.
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