Few of us can fail to feel sympathy and concern over the plight of the remaining twenty-one South Korean hostages of the Taliban in Afghanistan. As news of a second killing reaches the West, we are left in no doubt of the brutality and savagery of those holding these innocent people. Their latest victim was only twenty-nine years old. Those remaining must now be asking themselves who will be next.
Like Iraq, Afghanistan is a country presently torn apart by powerful opposing forces vying for control. Given the situation, it is not improper – even at this time of deep trauma for those held and for their friends and families – to ask the question: what were they doing there? The road they were traveling at the time of their capture is notorious for Taliban kidnappings. They had no armed guards and had notified no authority of their intention to travel that route.
Assessing the situation from a broader perspective, there appear to be only two reasons for anyone to independently place themselves in such danger, and while many would applaud the South Koreans for risking their lives to help those in need, what drove them to do so is disturbing.
In Iraq, the vast majority of foreign kidnap victims have been there for no better reason than greed. The draw was high wages, particularly in the early years after the US/UK invasion. The gambol of making pots of money in a relative short period, and hopefully getting out before attracting harm, was magnetic for some. For many, it was lethal.
But the South Koreans were there for another reason. They were Christians and believed they were doing God’s will by assisting others in distress. They were also intelligent, otherwise sensible human beings. The Taliban’s latest victim worked in IT before going to Afghanistan. It appears they put their trust in their God to protect them, and as is so frequently the case, their God badly let them down.
Was it, however, their God who let them down? Or, was it just their egos?
There have been many over the centuries who have surrendered common sense to faith, and paid a heavy price. There will be many more in the future. Taking onboard a belief that God intends you do his work is, in reality, no more than a huge ego boost, a self-deception for the sake of a “feel-good” factor.
Self deception is one of the human species’ most overworked traits. Few of the workers who traveled to Iraq for the high wages would admit they were driven by greed. Most explained their reason as heavy debt at home, an inability to cope financially on US wages. Better, it seemed, to risk torture and death than a lowered standard of living.
Perhaps the brutal truth for the South Korean hostages is that theirs was just another kind of greed – the lust for eternal life; that egotistical sense of superiority self-deceiving the human psyche into believing it is both invulnerable and immortal.
Whatever the fate of the remaining South Koreans in Afghanistan, whether the end result is tragedy or fortune, the self-deceiving egotism of the human species will reign supreme as the outcome is tritely explained away by most as “God’s will.”
Filed under: Lethal self deceptions