At such times many will empathise with the innocent while being utterly perplexed at the motives of the perpetrators. Such irrational hatred is hard for most sane people to comprehend.
No ideology, no deeply felt grievance, no religious belief or political cause can justify the shedding of so much innocent blood.
History also shows us that vengeful over-reaction to such events plays into the hands of the perpetrators. Terrorism met with a 'vigilante' mentality for retribution is likely to increase the levels of hatred and provide nothing other than a fleeting feeling of gratification when one, or more, of "them" are violently punished, maybe by a drone strike; the cycle of violence grinds on.
The major world religions, at their best, sustain an intrinsically hopeful view of humanity while recognising our immoral capacities. World scriptures, when read in the light of a merciful God, entreat every human heart to be merciful and as Abraham Lincoln said "listen to the better angels of our conscience".
While the best of human legal processes must be brought to bear on those behind the Paris outrage we must also be mindful of God's law which calls to higher feelings and prayerful responses:
- To break the cycle of violence,
- To decrease the levels of hatred,
- To master our capacities for vengeance
- Kindle the embers of forgiveness.