“Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton (British politician and novelist, 1803-73)
Wednesday’s brutal murder on an off-duty soldier in London has thrown up a wide range of reactions and responses which serve as indicators of several key relationships in Britain.
- The courage of members of the public who stopped to help, one woman from Cornwall even engaging an attacker in conversation to try and calm the situation; this suggests a good degree of solidarity across communities in Britain
- Several Muslim community leaders were quick to voice condemnation of the attack, as the perpetrators had delivered an Islamist tirade at the scene. This points to a strong desire by the Muslim community to distance itself from extremists and affirm its shared values with the rest of the country
- The police who arrived on the scene showed restraint as they didn’t shoot to kill, but instead to disarm, the attackers; this measured response helped to limit the relational damage which might have escalated if they had adopted a heavy handed approach (such as sparked of the London riots in 2011)
- The time, place and brutality of the attack and the choice of victim suggests that the relationship between Islamist extremists and the British armed services is dire to the point where individual humanity is lost in the hatred generated by ideology
- Sensational media coverage has not served the British public well; it gave a public platform to the jihadists which has led to violent reactions by far right groups such as the English Defence League, and may yet inspire copycat attacks on other members of the armed forces
- By waiting on the scene after the attacks and letting themselves be filmed, the extremists successfully manipulated the media and used them to magnify their message
An analysis in the Guardian by a former Cobra staff officer today suggests the government over-reacted by convening the highest national security committee, Cobra, to the detriment of a number of relationships; read the article here.
Walk the talk
The pathway to murder starts with resentment, leading on to bitterness, hatred and violence; are you aware of any growing resentment in the heart of someone you know well, which you could help defuse?
The last word
From the Bible, Proverbs chapter 29 verse 8, “Scornful people inflame a city, but those who are wise turn away wrath.”