I am an inconsequential woman. I am retired and live a quiet life doing ordinary things. I am not religious, I am not overly into politics (though don’t get me started on Nigel Farage and his godawful UKIP party who people are actually voting for). I like happy things and cute animals. I don’t like to be abrasive, controversial or outspoken, I just really hope my blog spreads a bit of cheer. So it’s taken me a full day to decide to post something about my feelings when I heard the news first thing yesterday morning.
My children are grown up now, but of course, I still remember sending them off to school, trying to make sure they looked vaguely clean and tidy in their uniforms, checking they’d got PE kit, dinner money, coat etc. They didn’t always want to go, and honestly, sometimes I would have preferred to keep them home and spend the day playing silly games with them. The thing is though, apart from the odd scraped knee, I knew they would come home safe and happy at the end of the day, and seeing them grow and understand the world was worth any sacrifice on my part.
I’m guessing school is a bit different in Pakistan. I imagine children are more excited to learn new things than perhaps some children in England, who, not unreasonably, take schools for granted. I imagine that the schools are not necessarily full of high-tech, state of the art equipment. I bet the children play the same games though, chasing each other, kicking balls about, doing that hand thing that girls do while they’re chanting rhymes. I bet they laugh and make friends, make enemies, make friends again. Shout, squeal, jump, skip… If there is one thing my travels have taught me is that kids are the same the world over.
We have had our tragedies at schools in the UK.
In Aberfan, Wales, in 1966, a colliery spoil tip collapsed engulfing a school and killing 116 children and 28 adults, in effect wiping out a whole generation from the same village in one afternoon. The villagers at the time felt that the National Coal Board were at fault for piling waste onto unstable ground. But nonetheless, it was a natural disaster. A devastating accident.
In Dunblane, Scotland 1996, sixteen children and a teacher were shot dead in their school by a lone gunman. He was a disgraced scout master. Mad. He’d lost the plot in the most devastating and despicable way and ended up killing himself. He was a coward too.
The men that murdered those children and their teachers in Pakistan yesterday knew what they were doing. They do not have the ‘excuse’ of madness (though it is easy to think there is something mentally amiss). This was an organised attack, carefully planned. They knew what they were doing. Seven of them armed with guns and wearing bomb vests. They did this, killed 132 children and nine of their teachers, for their cause.
I am sure I echo millions the world over, when I say there are no words big and deep enough to describe the disgust, horror and anguish I feel. My heart bleeds for those children who survived, who have to live with that terrible memory for the rest of their lives. I weep with the parents who sent their kids off to school in the morning, expecting them to arrive home safe in the afternoon, and I grieve with the proud families of those wonderful people who were spending their days teaching others, and whose lives have now been snuffed out.
As I said, I am an uncomplicated sort, and there are many things in this world that I do not understand. A cause where it is right to kill innocents, and that includes individuals that have no compassion or humanity, is one of those things. Were these nameless men not sons, uncles, fathers? I cannot believe that there is a religious document in this world that advocates and encourages such atrocities, and if there is, why would anyone ever follow such teachings? I just don’t understand.
Neither do I understand how such things can happen without any obvious repercussion. Every religious and political leader, across all faiths and factions, as well as every right minded individual across the world, should stand together, denounce this, and take whatever action is needed to ensure it’s like never happens again.