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.

The politics of hatred

I am not naive. I understand that not everyone can get along with everyone else, all the time. That’s a Utopian ideal. Yet tolerance, respect, and understanding is not too much to hope or ask for. Having been on the receiving end of racism (subtle or blatant), I can tell you it is one of the most humiliating, demeaning, soul crushing things that one human being can do to another. It makes you question your own worth and your place in society.

Post Brexit, there has been a rise in reported racist attacks. From terrorising mothers and children on the streets, to hate mail, to arson and death threats, Britain’s exit from Europe has been viewed by certain quarters of society as carte blanche to launch a hate-fuelled, bigoted vendetta against anyone who is perceived as “foreign”. That someone could be just as British as the person attacking them, but if they have an unpronounceable name or a different skin colour that is enough. Farage and UKIP have unleashed a monster that will be very difficult to rein, as years of hostility and simmering resentment has now found a voice and a direction. And it’s not pretty.

On the other side of the pond, Black lives matter are crusading against years of police brutality and discrimination.Leading from the assumption that all black men are thugs and criminals, the police shoot first and ask questions later. In most instances, they are never called into account for their actions. Racism is rife and protected.

Hatred and fear, more often than not, stem from ignorance. Different is construed as threatening. From perceiving a threat to a ‘way of life’ to then discriminating against those who ‘appear’ to be threatening this way of life is a short walk towards Xenophobia. A contagion that can affect the most educated to the most ill educated.

For all those who are truly appalled at the goings on, speak up. Speak for your fellow human, whether he wears a skull cap or she dons a hijab. Whether his skin colour is black or her eyes are slanted. Whether he struggles with your language, or she eats with her hands. Speak for them.

Amongst the many qualities that make us human, are the qualities of compassion and empathy. Let us put aside this fear and hatred, this self aggrandisement and reach out to those that seem different. How wonderful it will be to find that they are no different from you and I.