The Arrogance of Ignorance

21 Apr

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  The President is correct:  this has been one hell of a week!  I’ve been so stressed out worrying and praying for my fellow Americans that all I could do was eat and pray—pray and eat (my way of dealing with stress which seems to make me fatter, albeit, not any holier).

Eating Garfield Jim Davis

Garfield by cartoonist Jim Davis

This “hell of a week” started out with the colossal moral failure of four Democrats (4 votes if you don’t count Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “procedural ‘no’ vote”—WTF??):  Sens. Max Baucus, Mark Begich, Heidi Heitkamp and Mark Pryor, voting “no” against universal background checks for gun purchases because of their lily-livered fear of the NRA.   The fact that the majority of the Republican Senators voted against the bill didn’t come as a surprise (kudos to the courageous Republicans who showed moral fortitude in voting “yes”), but the Democrats who betrayed the 20 innocent children slaughtered in Newtown and the thousands of others across our land since then made me madder than Hell and sent me straight to the gluten-free cheesecake.

NRa Steve Sack cartoon www dot startribune dot ccom

Cartoonist:  Steve Sack/Chicago Star Tribune

What brought me to my knees, crying out to a God for help who I am confident exists but sometimes seems to be on an extended holiday, was the nightmare we’ve all just woken up from:  Boston under siege.  Even my dreams reflected my fears.  The night of the Boston Marathon bombing I dreamt that my husband (WW) and I were being chased by rabid paparazzi as if we were Hollywood stars.  My white husband (WW), who is always pitch perfect in tone and dress, wore a sharp black pin-striped suit with a patriotic tie (in real life he looks like a Presbyterian minister or president of the RNC, so this outfit is de rigueur for him).  I, the chocolate Lucille Ball of my family who often makes missteps in my fashion choices (I once wore a stunning white suit with matching hat and veil to a wedding—don’t ask!), walked beside WW in a two-piece skimpy bikini (seriously, demon-dream tormentors, did you lose your minds?).   Feeling particularly vulnerable with my exposed, pudgy body, I kept crying out for some type of “grace” to provide me a swimsuit covering to escape the tormenting laughter of the paparazzi who were chasing after me to get pictures of my fluffy-nutter midriff.  I kept asking WW why someone with “power” didn’t show up to rescue me from my shabby wardrobe faux pas—where was a helper when you really needed one?

bestoplucky toonzone dot net

Fortunately, I woke up from my naked dream, and I turned on the news to see what progress had been made in capturing the Boston Marathon terrorists. I heard an interview with a retired FBI agent who said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.  When questioned by the interviewer if we’d ever catch the perpetrators, the very wise FBI profiler said something tantamount to this:  “Oh, we’ll catch them—one way or the other—today or another day—we’ll catch them, because these terrorists don’t know what they don’t know.  In other words, they are arrogant of their ignorance.”  The profiler went on to explain that no matter how meticulous a plan is to commit a crime, there is always something that the perpetrators are blind to or unaware of that will eventually trip him or her up.  It was right then and there that I realized the Boston terrorists had planned everything “perfectly,” but in their arrogance they were ignorant to God’s grace appearing on the scene masquerading as ordinary helpers and undermining the bad guys’ ability to escape.


The surveillance camera on a Lord & Taylor store, across where the second bomb exploded, provided video of the area and captured the first grainy images of the terrorists.

Carlos Arredondo (a peace activist)the man in the white cowboy hat who had come to the race to honor his two dead sons (one died in Iraq and the other committed suicide in response to his brother’s death), who ran toward the explosion, put tourniquets on Jeff Bauman who lost both legs from one of the bombs, rushed Jeff to the first ambulance to arrive, and reassured the young man that he would be okay.

Jeff Bauman:  the amputee (saved by Carlos Arredondo) who demanded a pen and piece of paper as soon as he came out of surgery while he was still groggy, because he wanted to let the police know that he had seen the bomber put down a backpack—had made eye contact with the man—and could describe him (“Bag.  Saw the guy, looked right at me,” Jeff Bauman wrote.).

Arredondo photo by Charles Krupa AP

Heroes Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman | Charles Krupa—AP Photo

Bob Leonarda Boston Marathon veteran, who always stood in the same place year after year, snapped 10 – 20 photos a minute of the crowd and the winners as they approached the finish line.  His photos of the two terrorists were the first crystal-clear images of the men and gave law enforcement their first breakthrough in the case and ultimately led to the demise of suspect #1 (Black Cap).

David HenneberryA man who stepped outside of his house for a smoke less than an hour after police lifted a stay-indoors order for Watertown and the surrounding area.  He saw blood on the tarp of his boat in his yard, gingerly lifted a corner of the cover to discover someone in the boat, and very wisely ran back into the house and called the police.  The police had combed that area for hours and were pulling out to leave, figuring that suspect #2 (White Cap) had slipped through their net.  Because of the actions of the smoking resident, the 5-day reign of terror came to an end for Boston, and the country breathed a sigh of relief as Bostonians cheered the jubilant declaration:  “WE GOT HIM!”

Boston Marathon Fred Rogers Bish Tribune Review

Cartoonist: Randy Bish

I am discovering that sometimes the question is not why did you let this happen, God, but it is more significant to ask:  Where were you in the midst of all this chaos and pain?    Bad shit happens to good people here, there, and everywhere because we are free as human souls to choose between good and evil (if I ever get a chance to create my own world, nobody will have the freedom to choose anything—I’ll guarantee you that).   Being able to recognize God’s grace in the midst of evil keeps us from losing our minds, especially when we don’t understand why the bad things are happening to good people in the first place.

I am also discovering that the arrogance of evil is always ignorant of the good that is ever prevalent—ever watching and all-powerful—to defeat evil in the end.  But we must be very careful not to become like those who attacked us.  Within the last 48 hours, a female doctor by the name of Heba Abolaban  (dressed in a hijab and carrying her baby) was attacked on a Boston street.  According to the Huffington Post, the attacker hit her and shouted: “Fuck you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! Fuck you!”   We all must resist the pull to allow our anger to descend into “demonic anger” (“characterized by a fury that takes over or possesses us”) as Paul Brandeis Raushenbush so eloquently described it in his article* on responding to Boston anger.  Instead we must get angry—very angry—at the evil perpetrated by the terrorists, but it must be a “righteous anger” that does not forgo justice or strike out at the innocent so that we maintain what Raushenbush says makes us “people of peace, compassion and justice, that we want to be in this world.”*

peace cartoon

Cartoonist:  David Baldinger

 “It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.”Anatole France

“I see myself capable of arrogance and brutality… That’s a fierce thing, to discover within yourself that which you despise the most in others.”—George Stevens

“For all the different labels that get attached to it—terrorism, serial killing, ethnic war—much of mass violence is actually one big thing: the attempt by a small group of nihilistic and idiosyncratic individuals to murder, indiscriminately, a great many more.”—Charles King (“Every American Muslim’s Fear after the Boston Bombing”/Daily Beast)


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on April 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


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19 responses to “The Arrogance of Ignorance

  1. imagesbytdashfield

    April 21, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I have no reply that will suffice or would sound like something remotely intelligent. It was not a good week in some ways and in others it showed what we humans can do right when the moment presents itself.

    • etomczyk

      April 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

      TD: So true on both counts. We’ll either let these trials lift us to a higher level of engagement with our fellow citizens or we’ll sink to new lows. That is the power of freewill and it can be very unpredictable. Although I still say that there are more “good” people than “bad.” Take care and go out and bring us back some beauty with your camera. Beauty is one of humanity’s greatest assets. Without beauty we are nothing.

  2. momshieb

    April 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

    What a week, Eleanor! (And what a dream! Happy to know that I am not the only one who has those naked-chubby-lady dreams!) My daughter lives a mile from the shoot out scene in Watertown, so Friday was the scariest day of my entire life, by far.
    I pray and hope that my fellow Mass residents can hold onto the good feelings and sense of unity, rather than descending into the “us against them” crap that seems to pop up after these events. The waving of the American flag right now strikes the wrong note to me; I would wave a white dove flag. The boy in the hospital, the “white cap” suspect, is an American citizen.
    Hope you and I both sleep better tonight!

    • etomczyk

      April 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Moms: I did sleep a lot better last night as I hope you did. I do hope the young man lives so that we can begin to understand why he was coerced into doing what he did. It would be a very helpful parenting tool for those who have teenagers. Do you remember the snipers in the DC area not too long ago. It was an awful time for us. The older man was executed (never repented or felt any remorse for his murderous deeds), but the young boy was given life in prison. He recently was interviewed and now that he is out from under the corrosive spell of his mentor, the kid is the sweetest, most humble guy (the person he was meant to be). He makes no excuses for his behavior and has repented and apologized to the victims’ families. He realizes that he should never be allowed out of prison and is content with that but hopes to allow his story to deter other young kids from losing their souls as he did to someone he idolized. It breaks my heart that kids can be so easily swayed to do such horrid things.

      • momshieb

        April 21, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Oh, I DO remember that whole horrible event! I hadn’t even made the connection, but the feeling that I have about this young man is just the same as what I felt in that DC sniper case. You’re so right!
        It does give me hope that this young boy can salvage something, that perhaps he won’t be put to death, although somehow I think the government will ask for the death penalty. I just finished reading about his mother and father, so far away; part of me, I admit, wants to shake them and ask, “How could you have left your child behind like that?!”
        Ah, well. Not for us to judge, not for us to seek revenge.
        As for sleep….still hopeful that it will return at some point!

  3. Hudson Howl

    April 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Am so thankful I never remember my dreams, the awake hours are frightful enough.

    Oh, I guess am naive, I actually thought Gun Control was a no brain’r. after Newton (stops now as I feel a rant coming on).

    ‘E’ thank you for writing this, it needed to be said, it is always seems crystal clear when it comes from you.

    Friday I spent a couple hours, looking at webcams which showed a vacant, quiet Boston. I visited a couple of student forum message boards. Both offered up I thought a true pulse of how people were reacting and how their lives had changed (main stream wasn’t all that helpful I thought). Though I must say, an I understand the reaction of those affected, the forums were a little disturbing – as ‘from the mouths of academe babes’ seemed to reflect your notion of even good can be arrogant. But I will say a good majority kept their emotions under control and spoke from the heart.

    From bad can come some good.

    • etomczyk

      April 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Hudson–welcome back to the land of the living! Hope you’ve fully recovered.

      This will take some time for Boston and the rest of the US to figure out whether we can rise above our anger and not sink to the level of our attackers. But isn’t that always the challenge: “Vengence is mine says the Lord.” Or “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” We’re in for a journey because there will be more of these things to come, I’m afraid. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Hudson Howl

        April 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm

        Feeling how one should feel upon returning from a get away. On the upside I get to live in the after glow almost three weeks late. One of these days am going to figure out just what and why Cuba has a face that calls to me. She just turns me on at so many levels.

        There will ALWAYS be evil ugly that we have absolute no control over. Though the greater challenge is how one finds resolve and the manner in which we go about it. Best case scenario, we find a way to convert it into good ugly. Not looking for perfection.

      • etomczyk

        April 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

        Hudson. So glad you’re feeling better. You’re so right that there will always be an evil ugly that we have no control over. I guess the best we can do is fight it with all our might and not allow ourselves to become “the evil ugly” out of fear or hatred. Sometimes livig on Earth really exhausts me. Take care.

  4. talesfromthemotherland

    April 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    My hometown, I was riveted this week… not something I usually do (unlike you, my news savvy friend). I could barely look away on Friday! What a week indeed! The gun bill was horribly upsetting and then Boston. Boston, all week. What an outcome, what a week! I posted on Friday about it… touched to the core. Excellent post!

    • etomczyk

      April 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks Dawn. I left a comment on your post regarding Boston. It was well done. I’m still riveted to the news because now I want to know what made those two Bostonians “turn” like they did–especially the younger boy who seemed so well adjusted. Boston will continue to be in my prayers for a very long time. Take care.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        April 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm

        I think the older brother, who came here when he was nearly 17, had a lot of anger and trauma pent up. I think, personally, that he dragged his younger brother into it, and now that boy’s life is ruined, as he ruined other lives. That’s what I think we’ll learn… but I’l be curious to hear, first hand. Just had to step away from the TV for a few days!

  5. Valentine Logar

    April 21, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    This week left me in such a state of fury and depression, I could not sleep.

    • etomczyk

      April 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Val. You and me both. . .

  6. Joanne

    April 22, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Hi Eleanor. I guess in my household we also “eat and pray, pray and eat” when the world has gone awry, as between us, my husband and I easily consumed many tubs of Haagen Daz and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream while riveted to our television screen for the last few days…

    As you so often do, you phrased so beautifully what I tried to say just yesterday to a group of friends — that somehow the courage and kindness that shines through between the lines of these tragedies, makes us better able to endure the horror of them — i.e. the heroism of the teachers who put their lives at risk to protect the children entrusted to their care at Newtown. From Boston came one photo in particular I saw that gave me pause — taken seconds after the bombing — of people whose instinct it had been to run away — but the camera showed that they stopped, turned around, and ran back to help the others who were no longer able to run….

    • etomczyk

      April 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Joanne: You are so right. The disregard for one’s own life to run into the fray and help others who are in harms way is when we truly see the face of God. I love the quote: “Greater love has no man than if he lays down his life for his brother (brother = fellowman).” The day we stop seeing expressions of that type of heroism (“look for the helpers”) is the day we will have lost our value as the most intelligent species on the planet. Take care.

  7. aFrankAngle

    April 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

    You with a sartorial faux pas is not a dream …. it’s a nightmare! Meanwhile, it’s time like these that I’m happy with my decision to put distance between me and a long-time friend because I know he would have made some sort of ridiculous comment about Muslims.

    • etomczyk

      April 25, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Frank. I didn’t realize I was commiting a faux pas until after the event; I was just trying to catch WW’s eye. It worked. . .he couldn’t take his eyes off me. Besides the Bride was one of those perennial “mean girls” so nobody was upset except her mother who invented the word that rhymes with witch.

      Also, you and me both about being glad I’ve distanced myself from long-time friends who would make ridiculous racist comments when these are the times when love and grace and tolerance should be the rule of the day and the characteristics of the friends I hang with. Thanks for dropping by.

      • aFrankAngle

        April 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

        This is too much as you have such a way with words! LMAO!!!

        Wow … you sentence about love, grace, and tolerance may be the best I’ve seen all week!


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