“If you really want to hurt someone, don’t go for them, go for their children!” He paused as a smirk momentarily flew across his otherwise deadpan face. He continued: “They will have to go on living, suffering the pain of loss forever.” A short breath, then: “And if they don’t have children, destroy their life’s work – their business, their passion, their brainchild. The same effect. It destroys them. You’ve got them, they’re yours. You’ve won.”
These words, each spoken as if an icicle was attached to each and every syllable, were uttered by a man I happened to come across many years ago. I remember it as if it were yesterday; the encounter had a shattering effect upon me. With a troubled family history of severe abuse and neglect, hatred had become the driving force in this young man’s life. For him everything was either black or white, right or wrong; if you didn’t agree with him and he didn’t get it his way, you, the other party, were accused of not understanding, of not seeing and hearing him, and you were most likely labeled a cruel person, or even a psychopath.
This was the moment I realized that for some wounded ones, I will be judged, shunned and ostracised if I say no and refuse their request. If I happen not to share their point of view, I would be an object of hate: they are always in the right and you are always in the wrong.
In reality, and for most of us, that’s not how it appears – it’s rarely ‘either-or’ but rather ‘both-and’. Life is a mixture of up and down, good and bad, hope and despair, victories and losses. Most of us live well with that, and goodness usually occupies the greater space in our lives; that is what gives us hope, keeps us alive and going.
Being defined as either right or wrong, friend or foe, is as much a collective problem as it is an individual one. Groups, peoples and nations are as easily dehumanised as individuals are; they are categorised into a “them”, objectified, and declared the enemy, because they don’t share the same world-view and values as “us”.
Last night terror struck upon one of Europe’s great cities again. A suicide bomber detonated his deadly weapon in Manchester, UK, just as thousands were leaving the arena popstar Ariadna Grande had just finished her concert. More than 20 people are dead, many of them children and teenagers. A further 59 are suffering, some of them critically, and are being treated due to shrapnel wounds. The culprit is a young man, it is said, with religious inclinations, wanting to do good and right for God and his faith. But going for soft targets, such as children, is particularly vicious. It’s an act of sadistic, crude and cruel demonstration of assumed power, less, if anything at all, to do love.
This has far less to do with religion and God than it has to do with anger and hatred: it’s a destructiveness that grows out of feeling powerless and lost, a sense of not belonging, not finding love and meaning in life. These heinous acts are plotted by people who don’t seem able to find a rightful place in the world we live in. By destroying trust and innocence, especially as these qualities are embodied by our children, they do unto others as they themselves have been done by: for them the world is not a nurturing place and the people in it are not to be trusted.
Hence this is another lesson in love. The haters are few; the rest of us, the lovers, are many. Let’s stand together. Let’s be generous. Bold. Let’s choose to be a little more tolerant, a little more loving.
“Second Manchester bomb victim named as eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos“ (The Guardian, 24.05.2017)