Sunday, 13 March 2011

15 years ago

15 years ago today, a man who lived in a house just round the corner from where I now live, walked into a local primary school and murdered 16 children and their teacher as they got ready to start their gym class. He injured 15 others and scarred the lives of countless more - friends, families, staff, emergency workers. People I know. People I work with. I wasn't working here at the time and for me the incident is something remembered. For many people locally it is something relived - and not just today on the anniversary, but every day, all the time.

And tragically it still happens. Witness Derrick Bird's killing spree in Cumbria in June 2010, where a sad and angry man first killed members of his own family and then conducted a horrendous catalogue of drive by shootings in the otherwise quiet Cumbrian towns around Whitehaven and Seascale. In total he murdered 12 people and injured 11 others.

Sadly these are only 2 of many incidents worldwide where people - usually men - aggrieved by some real or imagined sleight, have taken revenge in this way. Yes, these men used guns to wreak their havoc. And while I'm no fan of guns, legal or otherwise, let's not forget that it wasn't the guns alone that killed these men's victims. It was people: in many ways, people like us - a little strange and often at the edges of society, but all the same, more like us than not like us. And I don't know about you but I find that a really scary thought.

What's perhaps a more encouraging thought, is that there are far more people who don't do these things, that don't resort to violence and who are horrified and repulsed by it. Love and compassion are far stronger, more powerful emotions than hatred and anger. Hope brings light. Here's to a world shining brightly with hope, love and compassion.

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchard and dark-green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing
will never be done. 

Siegfried Sassoon                    

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