Yesterday someone, as yet un-named so he’s an anonymous “someone”, took it upon himself to try to advance some cause by killing people as Westminster became a target for his delusion. Innocent people died or were injured, some badly. Children lost a mother; other children lost a father, an unarmed policeman doing his duty. A third person, of whom I know no more, also died. In each case, families and friends lost a loved one.
But what did that someone actually achieve? No doubt some people, somewhere, hiding in a dark room, will celebrate his “martyrdom”, sharing his delusion.
Because those who do not need to hide in a dark room have come together in an outpouring of compassion for the victims. They have shown the resilience for which all decent people are known. They have gone about their business, perhaps a little more worried than they were before this happened but, nevertheless, determined to carry on. Parliament is open for business. There is a little complaining about the inconvenience as the police and security services do their job but the overwhelming subject of our thoughts is the victims.
I think back to my younger days when, in Wales, a few misguided individuals thought that setting off bombs would achieve independence from Westminster rule; in later years, Wales barely voted for a form of devolved government and, since then, often wonders whether it made a mistake going that far. Those bombers achieved nothing. One day, the main doors of a building next to the one I worked in were blown off by a bomb. We carried on as normal. My father had a lucky escape, being called from work because my grandmother had been taken suddenly ill. While he was absent, a bomb went off on the window sill of his office. He was back in work the following day, concerned only at how long it would be before things were repaired and whether his treasured tea mug, a present from someone, was ok. Yes, we thought about how lucky we were to still have a father (and grandmother) and shuddered a bit. But, surprisingly, it wasn’t long before events slipped into our unconscious memory. Life carried on.
Every day, people are killed in road accidents. People fall ill and die. Every death means a bereavement which is un-noticed by those outside the person’s family and friends. If the vehicle that crashed into innocents on Westminster bridge had been driven by someone who had simply lost control of it, there would have been a mention in the local news media. It is only the mention of “terrorism” that has resulted in the news media’s feeding frenzy.
Who was that someone? Frankly, I don’t care. If anything, I hope that he remains a nameless someone. He deserves nothing better than to be forgotten. But we do think about those who tried to save his life, who showed compassion that was alien to his thinking. As we think about those who treated the injured and who tried to save the life of PC Keith Palmer and Aysha Frade. As we think about those who put their lives on the line day by day to protect us.
I remember Jo Cox whose husband Brendan fought through his grief to make something positive of her death. I can’t remember the name of her killer. Can you?
And so the Westminster someone may have achieved a blaze of publicity for his actions. Perhaps, in his deluded, distorted mind that is enough. Maybe he hoped to make life uncomfortable for those who are perceived to share his religion; that he may have done for there will always be those who seek to attach blame where no blame lies. If he claimed to be Muslim, he merely compounded his delusion. For Muslim he was not.
And if he thought he would advance whatever cause he espoused, he was gravely mistaken. If anything, he has strengthened our resolve to defeat those whose violence is nothing more than an admission that theirs is a lost cause. For any cause that cannot be won through discussion and agreement is a lost one. History has told us that. Repeatedly.
Any thoughts of “revenge” need to be set aside quickly. For if we seek “revenge” we descend to his level.
And we are better than that nameless someone.
Who should remain nameless.