Walid Phares was on the news today talking about the safe guards that should probably be taken for US citizens who want to do humanitarian aid in areas even “around the edges of where ISIS is in control”.  There is a strange thing happening in that part of the world that was being hinted at in the conversation with the newscaster.  There may be folks out there who kidnap Westerners and turn them over to ISIS for a reward.  Kayla Mueller was the aid worker who obviously was a humanitarian at heart and cared deeply for the plight of refugees and dispossessed.  The targeting of aid workers is usually viewed as an egregious assault upon civilization itself.

While all this is going on there is the discussion about terrorists not being an “existential threat” to the West.  The ability to not want to see an existential threat is an amazing characteristic of certain folks.  A good read if you are interested is “In the Garden of Beasts”, by Eric Larson.  It is the story of William E. Dodd the ambassador to Germany from 1933 to 1937 and his family who were, as Larson writes, “…complicated people moving through a complicated time, before the monsters declared their true nature”.  One of the underlying themes in the book is that very few people wanted to believe that a modern state like Germany with its history and culture could be an existential threat to anyone.  The idea that Hitler was a buffoon that would soon be put away by Statesmen of more mature sense seems to have been prevalent.  The ultimate question was why did it take so long to recognize the real danger posed by Hitler and his regime?

Part of the reason may be that civilized people cannot imagine anyone not wanting to be civilized.  They are people like us, and as John Kennedy once said, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” Wonderful sentiment and great poetry but it fails to see the nihilism of certain factions that literally do not see things the way we do. When the “monsters declare their true nature” we are ill equipped to respond because we have denied that there is such a thing as evil, just as we have denied that there is such a thing as truth.

Kayla Mueller wanted to help. She wanted, as near as I can tell, to put her faith into action. She happens to have died while carrying out her vocation because she lived in a time and place where the “monsters declared their true nature”.