For pity’s sake.



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I’ve just read a very funny and moving article about a grandson’s changing attitude to his grandfather’s dementia. The article is a little stylised as it’s on Vice and is rather longer and more thoughtful than the usual snap or vine. It is tender and shows the capacity we have at the beginning of our lives, to understand others, something we may lose as we grow older. You can read the article “The 56 times we told my Grandfather my Grandmother was dead” here  – please do.

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I find that tenderness in iconography and I found that tenderness yesterday, as I attended a vigil for Saskia and Jack who refused to judge and found awful judgement heaped upon them.

The cameras looked on, but the awful pity of the moment was plain to see

How you react to their now infinite patience and forgiveness is a matter of personal judgement. I know very few people who are mourning the family of the Jihadist who died, as if the parents should pay for the sin of the son. But their loss is very real too and though a Muslim cleric spoke at the Vigil alongside a Christian bishop, I didn’t hear many Islamic voices in the crowd.

It is extremely hard to see things from the point of view of those on the other side of reality  The dementia that drives a man to the extremity displayed on Friday lunchtime has no grounding in our reality, and yet made such sense in his, that he acted in his pre-meditated way, out of utter conviction. There was no way he could win but in what he thought was heaven.

Which is why, for pity’s sake, we must listen to the voice of Jack Merritt’s father and – uncomfortable as it sits with common sense, not seek retribution. For our retribution pushes us further from those who have lost their grounding.

A dementing grandparent, a vicious killer – parents and children dead or grieving. It is our capacity to have pity for each other that binds us together.

Jo Cox died for this, those children in Manchester died for this. It is the only way we can make sense of the senseless demented behaviour that rips young beautiful lives apart. They died and we must forgive and move on – and not look back in anger.

I pray for Jack and Saskia’s loved ones, as I pray for those who loved Usman Khan.


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About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to For pity’s sake.

  1. Chris Clifton says:

    Henry. As always you are right on the mark. Whatever drove Usman Khan should not be used as an excuse for politically motivated reactions. Khan’s family have suffered for his beliefs and ratchetting up hatred as a result will only make it worse. We are British, we should do the right thing and move on. I am not sayimg any of what happened is right or excusable but playing to the hatred narrative will only make it worse. We need to understand what motivates someone to do what Khan did and see what we can do to change the situation so that the motivation is removed. Dont react; solve the problem!

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