Once more we awake to news of a random atrocity which frightens us for it proximity and for its senselessness.
Were Nice not so close, their Promenade des Anglais almost ours, then this would not be a proximate act of terror.
Were there any political message that we could draw from this act of violence, we might make sense of it.
No doubt many will link this truck driving to the behaviours of so and so political leaders, or such and such policies but the truth is that if someone gets it into their head to mow down crowds of people who cannot get out of the way, in an HGV, there is nothing that can be done about.
Ironically, the driver had the fake grenades and guns in his truck, his truck alone was a weapon of mass destruction.
Theresa May is calling for us to redouble our efforts against terrorism, but this is empty rhetoric, two minutes traffic on the M1 could destroy us all – how can you regulate a vengeful driver? Article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36801346
The particular horror of the Nice atrocity is that not only is it proximate and senseless but it was entirely unpreventable. So long as people choose to meet in crowds , there is the capacity for deranged people to drive HGVs into them, or spray them with Sarin.
Our vulnerability is awful but it is not unusual. During the war, people in German and British cities went to bed every night whether it would be their last. Whole cities in Japan were wiped by the flick of a switch on an American bomber.
To say that in life we are in death, makes more sense at times like this than any health and safety video that preaches invulnerability in return for the adoption of good process.
It is about us -“je suis”
The nature of these acts of barbarity are senseless and the coincidence of three of them happening in a row in France is just that – a coincidence.
There will undoubtedly be foolish attempts to link these crimes with French politicians and politics, with the alienation of sections of the population.
But let’s remember that even the most civilised country in the world – Norway – fell prey to a crazed youth who shot dead scores upon an island off Oslo.
What is so terrible is that these crimes come from individuals who take wrong choices which lead to terrible consequences, almost invariably leading to the loss of their own lives.
To suppose that this behaviour could be stopped is to suppose we can engineer the hum genome so that their is rationality hard coded into each of our psyche’s. Of course there is no way of doing things.
The sin is original
The origins of the desire to drive a mile of mayhem on a Nice promenade is in a faulty psyche. Previous generations used to characterise this impulse to do harm as “sin”. Blame was apportioned for this sin through legend. I come from a Christian background and am familiar with the myth of Adam and Eve. It is as ludicrous to blame the French Prime Minister as to blame Eve.
I am reminded of the end of “Blame it on Cain” by Elvis Costello
Blame it on Cain
Don’t blame it on me
Oh-oh, oh, it’s nobody’s fault
But we need somebody to burn
The existential threat
We occasionally – at times like this- call into question society’s capacity to protect itself against the senseless “the nutter”. We cannot.
No matter how we try to curb the movement of criminals and suspected criminals, we cannot control our own borders or even our promenades. The truck could have driven down Wembley way on match day with the same impact.
In the old days “sin” was to blame, and we blamed it on Adam, or Eve or poor old Cain. We used to go to church to save our souls (even though we couldn’t save our bodies)
Now we try to make sense of this random horror through mechanical means.
Go to the theatre and watch King Lear, see senseless brutality and recognise the genius of tragedy, that there is no sense in it at all.
We all live with one existential threat – death. On days like this, we should remember we will never be able to wipe it off the risk register.
And now we wait
Many of us know people who could have been on the Promenade des Anglais last night, we hope they were not (check your Facebook).
Un numéro d’information à été mis en place : 04 93 72 22 22.
They could be dead, or maimed for what – for bad luck? Or were they lucky enough not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We wait to find out those we know, and maybe love are no more. And in waiting we contemplate a deeper truth.
“There – when I’m called by God – go I”
Have a great weekend – Carpe Diem