Thursday, 5 October 2017

A breath of life to the body of mankind

On October 1st, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a concert 32 floors below his Las Vegas hotel window. He had with him a large number of weapons, and he had rigged up cameras in the corridor so that he could see when any police officers were approaching him. He killed 58 people, and injured 520 more. He had no known political affiliation, was not known to have any mental problems, and unlike so many killers, he was not known to the police. It is, however, interesting to note that the police once regarded his father as being psychopathic.

So what were his motives? Was it sheer jealousy, that other people seemed to gain happiness from life, while he could not? Was it resentment of others, or desire for revenge for some real or imagined slight or injustice? Was it some kind of desire for recognition, as a skilled man who thought he had accomplished much, but to society was a complete unknown? As a hardened gambler, he would have belief either in luck, getting him something for nothing, or in his unrecognised skills in playing with the odds. As this man did with his final act, a gambler risks a lot, but with no guarantee of success. Was it pure nihilism: his life was going nowhere, so why should other people’s lives go anywhere?

What is missing in the lives of mass killers and serial killers? Whether they act alone, or under some spurious banner, surely they must have deficiencies in their lives or in their make-up. Perhaps what is missing is compassion, or empathy, or love for their fellow human beings. Perhaps they are lacking in self-control, or in a sense of proportion. Most people accept that at one level they are just one person among millions, and many realise that our planet is itself just one among billions. Most people, therefore, do not exalt their own importance. Perhaps the mass killer has an exaggerated sense of his/her importance.

Perhaps what is missing is a personal link to God. Bahá’u’lláh said: “The vitality of men's belief in God is dying out in every land… The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society.” A religion, in its true and uncorrupted form, gives a fixed point for morals. “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not covet…” seem to have been forgotten. Religion gives a respect for the law. In the United States, it is illegal to buy or sell automatic weapons. By upgrading his weapons to convert them to automatics, the killer in Las Vegas was defying the law. Murder, by its very definition, is against the law. True religion also gives what we used to call “fear of God”, but would be better expressed as respect for divine authority. The mass killer has no fear of man. Perhaps a realisation that he will have to answer to the Ultimate is part of what is missing. Religion should also give each person a positive and constructive belief system, and it should give the individual a personal link to God. It is worth noting that the lost and bewildered youngsters who join ISIS or Al-Qaeda perform their murderous acts on behalf of some twisted leader, and not through a strong, personal relationship with God. Perhaps what is missing in their lives is any form of spiritual awareness, and particularly personal prayer – conversation with God.

Large portions of mankind have turned their backs on the whole idea of believing in God and taking guidance from religion. But Bahá’u’lláh taught that the governments of the world would come to realise that true religion is a force for stability in the world. Bahá’u’lláh’s Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, stated that “among the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh is that religion is a mighty bulwark…. the religion of God prevents both the manifest and the concealed crime, trains man [and] educates morals.”

One individual, in charge of a firearm, a car, a truck, explosives, acid, even a knife, can cause so much misery, and clearly needs to have a noble set of goals to aspire to rather than the hostile negativity so many seem to turn to. Here is what Bahá’u’lláh offered as a set of personal goals:

"Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

As individuals, we need to turn outwards, to others, to ensure that we have a positive effect on society. We need to be “a breath of life to the body of mankind.”



  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. It is a breath of fresh air in a sadly polluted atmosphere.

  2. Thank you! I just want people to read it, and think about what it says!