The seizure of Nairobi's Westgate Mall by armed terrorists has been hard to ignore, even across the ocean. Now more details are out about the terrorists involved in the Kenyan shopping mall attack -- and what it takes to stop them. Apparently shame works, especially when it comes in the form of a small child telling them, "You're a very bad man."
When faced with a man with a gun, that's what one 4-year-old boy reportedly announced. Out of the mouths of babes, eh?
Thank goodness for that frank little fella. It saved his family.
According to CNN, 4-year-old Elliott Prior was with his mother -- who'd already been shot in the leg -- and 6-year-old sister Amelie when another gunman approached. The little boy shouted, "You’re a bad man, let us leave.” And the gunman relented, giving the child some candy and allowing the whole family to escape the shopping center.
He allegedly asked for forgiveness, telling the boy he was "not a monster."
It's not going to win the guy humanitarian of the year, but it's something.
It's enough to make you think of this group of armed terrorists not as one behemoth but as individuals, all with different agendas. It's enough to make you wonder: did everyone who walked into that mall intend the atrocities we've been hearing? Can we hold them all responsible for the 62 deaths reported so far, for the pregnant women?
In instances like this, we tend to group all the folks together as one giant monster, like a Hydra with its many heads but one body. The reality is often much more complicated. Think about any team; there are leaders and there are followers. Among the latter, there are usually varying degrees of complicity.
Of course, those followers are wrong for going along with the cause -- at least in this case -- but the question is whether they carry the same culpability for what happens. Can we put a man who gives a little boy candy and lets his family go on the same level as the others? Is there some sympathy for a man who still has some human compassion in there?
Maybe not. He went along with it. This mall attack has been truly disgusting, and the perpetrators (those left alive anyway) should pay.
But it's worth asking ourselves, worth looking at our own way of putting a value on the humanity left in people like this.
It isn't easy, is it?
Does this little boy's story affect the way you've looked at this horror in Kenya? Why do you think the man let him go?
Image via Rich Bowen/Flickr