Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recent Brutal Event in the United Kingdom

I heard about the terrible actions of two men who attacked another man on the street, hacking at him with butcher knives...I heard the attackers said this was to show what happens in their country every day.

I say "I heard" for both of these because I don't want to look it up. I know there is footage of the attack, and I don't want to see it. My imagination is giving me enough pain as it is. Even with just knowing basic facts, I am left wondering why. Why in the world would those two men do this, choose to attack a random man on the street in such a brutal way? Why are they so callous? How did they get to that point of callousness and anti-empathy? I want to understand why someone would do this, in large measure because I don't want it to happen again.

While I think full responsibility for this action falls on the two perpetrators (acknowledging that I don't have the facts, so I can't really know that), there might be some conditions that led to them taking such a violent course of action, and that is something we can change.

My initial reaction to the attacker's "message" (that this happens in his country every day) was to make me want to not talk about the event, because that would give more attention to the deed and perhaps in some ways justify the act. That was my initial reaction, but I think there is more we can learn here by looking at what happened critically, and not taking this man's word at face value. There is SO much more that could be going on here.

Examining their supposed cause for a moment: why would they, of all things, choose to attack a man in the UK to show that their country was violent? They might have felt that this would grab the attention of the world (in that they would probably be right). But why would they want the attention of the world? Maybe they thought it would get them help faster. I don't think they thought that one through, because people hearing about this will think of their own fixes for this problem, and an unorganized and from-all-sides approach will probably be more chaotic than helpful.

A pause for a moment. I wonder if their perception of the violence in their country is skewed. It is possible that they had an inaccurate view of how things have happened in their country. And I wonder why they thought such violence would help their country be less violent.

Their words seem to bring with them an accusation: something saying "You haven't been paying attention. There is violence in ____, and YOU are the one that needs to fix it." Who knows, maybe there is some justification to thinking the world should be concerned with the violence going on in other nations. But why did they think the UK (or the world at large) should specifically do something about it?

Their words also seem to demand an immediate response, a quick fix. Interesting that they want to fix violence with an equally violent call to arms (if you can call what they did that...which I really don't think we can), yet they seem to be asking for peace, and peace doesn't happen overnight. True peace in a community has to start deep down, and get hold of the hearts of the people. Peace is built on trust, respect, and caring about the people around you.

I don't know how to process what they did, and I certainly don't think I'll understand them quickly. I just hope we can be the kind of world where if people ask for help in less sensational ways, we'll help them.