Murdering people you don’t know

The sheer numbers murdered and maimed in Paris is what exactly? 481. Maybe more.

Definitely more. When you add to that 481 number the immediate family, loved ones and close friends affected for the rest of their lives by the death or injury of their family members, close friends or loved ones that night, the number becomes huge. The ripple effect affects everybody, all of those of us who don’t know anybody personally, but feel a sense of moral outrage or injustice or helplessness add to that increasing number that’s now a million times the 481.

I was one of those in the outer ripple as the story of the Paris massacres unfolded. I felt outrage and all the things we hopefully compassionate human beings feel at a distance, removed from any direct connection except as observers.

Then suddenly I found out that I wasn’t just an observer but was a few degrees closer. I learned that a couple I knew had been murdered at the Bataclan.

All the armchair outrage I’d felt about the event was suddenly replaced by a stunned and desperate feeling of shock.

I won’t name them or describe them as I don’t want to be intrusive on the grief and pain of their families by being an outsider talking about them specifically before the immediate family do.

However, they were murdered by people they didn’t know, for a cause they didn’t understand.

The mass murdering of people you don’t know seems a strange affliction of the human race. I look at the Israeli way and how they treat the Palestinians they cruelly keep contained within the living concentration camp of Gaza, or steal the homes and land from in the West Bank. Every few years they will mass murder a couple of thousand of them, especially the women and children. They don’t know them, they just like to murder them.

In the United States the mass murdering of people you don’t know isn’t even wrapped up in a ‘cause’. It’s just disturbed emo kids who want to be remembered for something, anything, and mass murder, ideally in a school, fits the purpose.

Similar things happen everywhere. Most of the mass murdering happens in places we can’t pronounce amongst peoples we’ve never heard of. Despite the cruelty and injustice and the high numbers murdered, it rarely reaches the front pages of the English speaking news media.

The nearer the murdering gets to us geographically, the higher it climbs the headlines. The Paris murders were as close as you can get before stepping onto British soil.

That is one reason we in the UK got so upset and emotional after Friday’s murders. The other is because some of us, even those of us with degrees of separation, knew and could identify with those who were there to be murdered by people they didn’t know.