Saturday, 10 July 2010

R.I.P. Raoul Moat

I know this is probably a very controversial subject at the moment but I’m tired of the lack of humanitarian understanding and forgiveness when extreme situations occur.

There are many, this morning, shouting “Thank God that bloody lunatic, Raoul Moat is dead!” or words to that effect.

Only last month there was the case of Derrick Bird who rampaged through quiet towns and villages in Cumbria, reports told us that there were 12 dead and 11 injured. I’d say the reports were slightly incorrect. Derrick Bird’s actions left 13 dead and 11 injured, for he himself lost his life even though he killed himself.

Thomas Hamilton, in 1996, devasted the town of Dunblane, when he opened fire in a school, killing 16 Children and 1 Adult and injuring 13 Children and 3 Adults. Yet again, the newspapers and television reports mentioned him killing himself as an additional extra instead of adding him to the sad loss total.

In Hungerford, in 1987, Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people and yet his own life was omitted from the total to mourn for.

If we are ever going to learn about the true meanings of forgiveness, compassion and understanding we need to demonstrate it when atrocities affect us as a nation.

Raoul Moat, Derrick Bird, Thomas Hamilton and Michael Ryan were all human beings. What concerns me most is that they must have been at such a low point in their mental state, they must have given up so totally on their own lives and lost all ability to rationalise, that they were drawn to take such devastatingly painful action.

Anyone who has ever suffered from Depression will remember how isolating and soul destroying it can be. All the good intentions in the world, from friends and family, cannot penetrate the blackness and, whatever chemical deficiency that causes the dark abyss, totally takes over everything that happens in life.

Some years ago, I watched a documentary where celebrities were challenged to use Public Transport instead of their cars. A certain Nicholas Parsons was using the train to get to a meeting and his train came to a sudden standstill. With time ticking away waiting quite a while without any announcement of the reason for the hold-up, Mr Parsons was getting quite agitated. Finally came the announcement that someone had committed suicide further up the line and that was the reason for their delay. Mr Parsons announced to the camera “So I’m going to be late because some idiot has decided to throw himself infront of a train.” Shame on you Mr Parsons, Shame on you! The person you describe as an idiot had reached a point where there was no meaning to their life anymore and had been compelled by the dark abyss to terminate the suffering. Hitting the bottom of “the pool of hope” does not offer any rational thinking into the consequences of their actions, it doesn’t allow for the poor train driver’s suffering, the people on the train who are expecting to reach their destination, it takes over so completely that the action is done without a world existing beyond the darkness.

Every suicide should lay heavy on the hearts of humanity. We must have failed them terribly to allow such darkness, even when they have affected others and I’m afraid that also goes for those who take others with them.

As for Raoul Moat, I am aware that he had just been released from prison after serving time for assault but doesn’t this mean that somewhere back in time, something changed him from being a peace loving and caring person (which we are all born as) to someone who cannot communicate without violence?

My heart goes out to the families, friends and loved ones of all those who have suffered or lost their lives in shooting incidents, but I also offer prayers for the men who held the guns, for they too were part of the family of humanity, my family, and I’m regretful that our family did not notice their internal suffering and allowed them to become so desperate that drastic action was the only route they could find. Peace be on their souls.


  1. Hi Shammy, I think that it is not as simple as life is good and death is bad. People who kill themselves after committing horrendous crimes (I am also thinking of Fred West) are making a choice (a) to be in control of what happens; and (b) making a choice that they do not want to spend the rest of their lives in prison. If it turns out that Raoul Moat did not make that choice at the end e.g. because of the effect of the taser gun, then that would be a different matter. Any way up he will not be held to account for his crimes, those he has hurt will never see him tried or receive a jail sentence and his children have lost their father.

    Why is it society that has failed Raoul Moat – why is it us who has to take responsibility for how he was? He was a violent man who hit family members, attacked their property and attacked the mother of his child repeatedly over six years. His ex’s grandmother said, ‘he split her head open one night. From what she told me he threw her against a wall and jumped on her stomach’. This is not a man who deserves our sympathy for the way that he lived – he controlled through violence. Then having almost killed his ex he says that she made him do it.

    This is not a suicide following a period of intense depression – such people are destroying themselves not killing others – I have a great deal of sympathy for such people. I think this is an unfortunate comparison: such suicides with Moat. I don’t think that we can judge the likes of Moat or West by our values – they did not live by our values. Moat was a controlling, violent man who took the life of one man and grievously wounded two others as well as many other woundings in the past. He is not a man in the depths of depression and has not taken his own life to end that suffering. We as a society have not failed him, he has failed us and more importantly he has failed those he loved most i.e. his children.

    If he killed himself because he was continuing his life of control then he chose that - many would have wanted him to live to face the consequences - but ultimately he made a choice. If it turns out that he killed himself without wanting to then that is sad but is not the same for me as those who kill themselves because they live their lives in black despair.

    With love, Louise

  2. Hi Louise,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I would add that I did not intend to give the impression that Raoul Moat was suffering from depression. I did, however, want to bring to attention that something must have happened to make him behave the way he did.

    I am not condoning his actions at all, but feel that had, whatever caused him to become so violent and aggessive, been stopped before it damaged him, then the events of the last few weeks and matters before that would not have happened.

    Maybe it is down to us not evolving enough to know how to recognise such things but I stil believe we are all one family and should accept responsibility for human failure, otherwise, we cannot continue to learn.

    Love and blessings to you

  3. Hi Shammy, thanks for taking the time to respond. One of the things that it has taken me decades to accept is that some people are excessively selfish and abusive in a number of ways (not just physically & sexually but also emotionally and financially). I cannot understand why – if I think about it from my viewpoint. But trying to put myself in their shoes I can get a glimpse – that if everyone is out to get them and if they need to control everyone around them and if they can do whatever they like but others had better not upset them – if this is how they think then yes I can understand.

    Many of us have not had great childhoods or even great adulthoods but we choose to be kind rather than unkind. I don't believe in the sort of determinism which suggests that if something happens to you in your early life then you are bound to be x,y or z. I was raised for many years by a single mother and have been a single mother all of my child's 17 + years. Should I be delinquent, should my daughter now be pregnant or should we not know right from wrong? Of course not. Now the New Biology is showing how our thoughts impact on our DNA – so much less about how we are is seen as pre-determined and much more about the choices that we make.

    Becoming violent and aggressive was Moat’s choice - he knew he hit people and he knew that he hurt them badly: if it was the steroids then he should have stopped taking them. This was not a single outburst this was who he was. I believe that it is possible to be 'strong at the broken places' but first we need to accept personal & individual responsibility.

    I have worked for many years with organisations working with sexual and domestic violence. One of the most difficult (impossible?) tasks is working with offenders getting them to accept their own responsibility. As a society we are often telling them it is something in their past - which of course is unalterable - when in fact it is something in their present which is only alterable by them. The responsibility for the violence of violent offenders should be squarely laid at their doors.

    At some point society has to be committed to addressing domestic violence – because this is essentially what the Moat case is – by focusing on stopping perpetrators rather than just applying sticking plasters to victims and without making excuses for the perpetrators. With 1-2 women/week killed by their partners or ex-partners I don’t think we need to understand why they do it so much as how to get them to stop doing it.

    As you say Shammy our views are quite different and it is great to be able to exchange our views. I could go on and on – personal responsibility is a pet subject of mine. So I will close now and wish you well till we converse again.

    With love, Louise xx

  4. You write "I’m tired of the lack of ... forgiveness when extreme situations occur." Forgiveness of whom? by whom? for what? The indiscriminate use of the word 'forgiveness'is really not helpful in this kind of discussion.Following on louise and zoe's contribution,wrongdoing requires recognition and acceptance of responsibility by the wrongdoer,followed by repentance - a clear determination to avoid the bad action ;penance-restorative justice or maybe a prison sentence,then forgiveness is possible and should be granted so that those involved can move on.The policeman allegedly attacked by Moat has said that he bears no ill will to the perpetrator even though he may lose his sight as a result ; as the victim I would contend that he is the only person who can forgive - we cannot forgive on behalf of others.

  5. I'm afraid I'm unable to summon up the same spirit of forgiveness that you're advocating in this post. These people, no matter their mental state, decided that they would not only take their own lives - but also destroy the lives of anyone else who got in their way whilst doing so. I can feel sympathy for someone who takes their own life out of hopelessness and depression. For these murderers, I feel nothing but contempt.

  6. This is a very difficult issue. You have to wonder what is the source of violence and aggression, and how much it is the choice of the person doing it and how much it is upbringing and/or heredity. The problem is, I suspect, that it becomes a vicious spiral - the person acts aggressively, and somehow they feel better, so they do it some more. Clearly there is an element of choice - they could choose to address the problem - but they are also clearly deeply disturbed people. So I wouldn't go as far as saying it's 100% upbringing or heredity, or 100% choice. Also, as with most behaviours, the more the behaviour appears to be rewarded, the more the person will do it.

    Also, the saying "violence is the last resort of the inarticulate" has some basis in reality, as quite often murderers report that they cannot remember doing the murder because they went into some sort of "blind rage". If people were taught to control their anger, the cycle of violence might be reduced. They were presumably not in any rational state of mind when they committed these atrocities.

    I think there's a distinction between forgiving and forgetting. Many people have found great healing in forgiving (see the Forgiveness Project) but it does not come easily to everyone, and cannot be forced. But jut because one forgives violence, does not mean that one should forget it and put oneself in the way of it happening again.

    In the cases mentioned here, one has to wonder what could drive someone to kill so many other people, and wonder if we could do something to prevent these tragedies. And if there is something, why aren't we doing it?

    It's not up to us to forgive these people - only the victims and their families could do that - but we must have the imagination to look for ways to prevent these awful killing sprees.

  7. Excellent comments Yewtree and thank you. :-)