Lone Wolf

So what makes them do it? What makes an ordinary, quiet, seemingly normal teenager fire an automatic at his school friends and teachers? What makes a man drive his car into innocent pedestrians on a sidewalk? What justification is there for these lone wolf attacks?

Wolves are pack animals, just as humans are by nature socialised beings. Lone wolves on the other hand, prefer their own company. They live and hunt on their own. They are outcasts by temperament, by circumstance and sometimes of their own volition.

Nearly always after another chilling attack, emerge the clues that led to it. A social misfit, a dysfunctional background, a lack of love, a propensity for violence, vulnerability to ideological brainwashing. Taken alone, each of these qualities may perhaps lead a person to a solitary existence, a criminal career or even a mental institution. Together, however, they become so much more dangerous.

Can we, as responsible citizens; parents, neighbours, co workers, pick up on any of these clues, and report them to the relevant authorities? Do we, as a society, have a duty towards these social outcasts? Is it possible in any way to intervene and diffuse a potentially fatal situation from developing?

These are amongst the many questions that lie at the heart of the modern dilemma of home grown attackers. Are killers born or made? Are terrorists just victims of circumstance and conditioning?

Reflection and responsibility. Two things that might lead us to answers. Uncomfortable truths of the part we play in marginalising these peripheral pariahs, whose only moments of recognition and glory lie in death, terror and destruction.

Then, and only then, will we vanquish this multi headed Hydra.

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Who am I?

The most rudimentary of questions. Yet the answer escapes most of us. Try and define yourself. Not describe, define. Who are you? Stripped down to the most elemental level. Are you brave? Are you a coward? Are you brutish or sophisticated? Are you conservative or liberal? Are you religious or an atheist? Who are you?

The answer is a complex one. And I’ll wager, not one you are expecting. The answer is: I do not know. I do not know how brave I am, till I am in a situation that requires courage. At that point, will I choose to save my skin or save another’s? I think I am sophisticated, till you put me in an unfamiliar milieu, and the social shorthand fails me. Then I appear brutish, unrefined and uncouth. I think I am liberal till my daughter brings home a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, and all at once, every bit of my socialism flies out of the window. I think I am religious, yet I laugh at the barbaric rituals and stone gods of the ostensibly primitive.

Any of this sound familiar?

We are all complex, multi layered, multi dimensional wonders of evolution. We are all a work in progress. What I am in this moment, I will not be in the next. Nor will you. Our experiences, our joys, our sorrows contribute to our own unique signatures.

Fundamentally though, we all believe that we are good people. From the terrorist who bombs a hundred people in a square, giving up his life for a cause, to the politician who bombs a country, in pursuit of a higher good. We believe we are good. But are we?

These moral complexities are the shifting sands that govern human nature.

Who am I? The song from Les Misérables where Jean Valjean questions his moral core is perhaps the best way to end this rambling, philosophical blog post. Who am I? I am me.

 

Anniversaries

When I last logged into WordPress, it informed me that I had completed a year of blogging, and wished me on my anniversary. An entire year gone by? A year of blogging- putting my stories, my thoughts and sometimes, my innards, out for consumption. Traditionally, anniversaries are celebrated. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, new years….all roughly fall into that category of having completed something, with an anticipation of the future unfolding in a similar manner.

Sometimes though, they give rise to a need for reflection. What does completing a year signify? Is it merely a passage of time, or has one grown in that time; learnt something, gained an insight, perhaps acquired some wisdom? At what point does one sit down and evaluate the merits of where one stands today, as opposed to where one stood five or even ten years ago?

For me, personally, it has been a turbulent year. I have been shaken up in more ways than one. What I have learnt is, that I am incapable of writing stories, when my mind is troubled. I need to be in a safe place metaphorically, even if it isn’t necessarily a happy one. Yet, I am able to blog with impunity, for it requires no great powers of plotting, characterisation, or an end product meeting my own exacting standards, let alone anyone else’s.

I am trying to inch towards this safe zone. Blogging is my therapy. And that is something worth celebrating.

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A change is as good as a rest

I am back after a brief hiatus. It was the necessary amount of time it took me to reassess, recuperate and rebound (somewhat) from the sad sad time in our lives. The sun is shining and in some small way, so is my outlook. I cannot thank my friends, and my lovely readers/followers for believing in me and allowing me the luxury of wallowing in my sorrow for a bit.

Onwards and upwards hereon.