Can we help to stop these things?

The news this last few days has been horrendous to say the least. Like everyone who reads or hears about the terrible cutting short of twelve lives and the further trauma suffered by those involved in the shooting in Cumbria, I am shocked and saddened at these crimes. Such stories in the recent past were previously mainly attributed to American news. Other stories over the years are also becoming more and more common. Body parts found was something I only ever considered as television entertainment from the likes of CSI, the kidnapping of children is now far more common.

Kidnapping is not as much a connection in this entry as an example I can think of to demonstrate what I want to say. I remember in 1978, the day when Genette Tate went missing and to this day there is no evidence on what happened. The Daily Mail online has published an article on Genette’s friend, Maggie, and what she has gone through because she and another friend were the last to have seen Genette alive.

In that article Maggie not only describes the constant harassment by police questioning her but she also talks about the bullying from classmates who called her murderer and other similar names. The stress on her pushed her to breaking point when one day she exploded at the taunts and kicked one of the girls in the face. In those days, violence like that would not have been common place, it would have been dealt with, probably in the school. Today we read of youths kicking innocent people to death on an all too regular basis! So was Maggie really an aggressive person? In my mind I find it easy to see that she was pushed to that moment that she was unable to control her anger. In that moment, she wasn’t just kicking a girl who called her a name, she was kicking every single thing, person and trial she had been through since that day, including her own hurt.

The connection between events and the explosion in Maggie’s case was understandable but how many people go through life carrying pain and hurt and anger, just like she has? How many carry it hidden deep within themselves and become lonely and introverted and stay that way? Slipping through this so called ‘informed’ society as alcoholics, drop-outs, recluses or simply just lonely people who have trouble with simple communication skills.

What I am trying to say is that inside me there is a person who knows what it is like to be bullied, a person who can’t help thinking that if we all took the time to stop and think of the negative things, hurtful words, derogatory names that come from our mouths, how much nicer would our world be?

Going back to the terrible event in Cumbria, I ask the question – what happened in this man’s life to cause this explosion? I do not condone such behaviour but I wonder if the world had been kinder to him, in whatever the trigger was for him, would this have happened? We hold him responsible for these deaths and his own suicide but should those that have been connected to him throughout his life not take some responsibility for his behaviour? How many have called him names over his life? Was he known as a ‘loser’ at school? Did he not do well and so was labelled stupid or made to feel stupid in front of classmates? Did he not get on with women because a significant female in his life robbed him of any confidence? There are so many questions and so few answers. Instead today we see time and time again the end results, results that cause such terrifying devastation in others lives.

We laugh at ‘kick the cat’ syndrome jokes but this case makes it all too real an event at the furthest extreme. So what about the youths who find it amusing to kick another person or an animal to death? Once again I would like to look through that person’s life and ask what have they been through to lead them to these events. What makes them become so  amoral to the point of disregard for anything or anyone, including life? Somewhere, something has made them this way. I don’t believe babies are born bad.

I think of the hurtful things we might all say… you’re stupid – thick/ don’t be so stupid –  these are little things but as with bringing up children, if you tell a child often enough he is naughty, the label will stick! They could become ‘victims’. Unknown to themselves their demeanour gives a silent message to others.. this person is weak. Primal instinct in animal is to bully the weak. The sad thing is maybe it was us that made them weak in the first place.

I challenge those around me, including myself, to think before we criticise. Positive criticism can be so uplifting, it can connect two people – the giver and the taker- in a such way that makes both feel fulfilled. Better to say ‘I don’t like, or I am not comfortable with, maybe -I am not sure that’s right let’s look at it another way’ than to say you pratt/idiot or whatever other names that are used regularly today. Using the ‘I’word is a great way of making sure the other person isn’t crushed at the point when he can take no more to such devastating results or have his suppression added to.

I am not saying the Cumbrian shooting is anyone’s fault but the perpetrator’s because we all have free will, but in future I shall make even more of an effort to watch what comes out of my mouth, before I open it, in case I add a possible final straw to someone else’s already heavy load. Love, light and prayers to all those involved in Cumbria.


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