As the world reacted with outrage at the news footage of the two men who butchered that 25 year old soldier to death in broad daylight on the streets of London on Wednesday, the horror felt nationally turned to shock locally when we learnt that the soldier was from this town, indeed this very estate, on which we live.
Once Drummer Lee Rigby’s name was released, the realisation spread like wildfire.
Our town was immediately catapulted into the centre of the media eye as various news crews descended upon it. Satellite news vans currently line the street where my wife’s parents live. The playschool which my son attends has been closed today as the community centre that hosts it is acting as the focal point for the local residents to come together in mutual support and solace. At the sports centre a book of condolence has been opened for people to sign and leave sympathetic messages. British and English flags are beginning to be displayed from windows and car aerials.
I didn’t know Lee personally, but I know people who did. This is a typical neighbourhood where everyone is just one place away from knowing everyone else.
Nationally there has been reports of sporadic attacks on mosques, with demonstrations being mooted for the coming days.
But here in Lee’s hometown the first response was to gather together, offering prayers and lighting candles for Lee and in support of his family. His sister attended the vigil, and we were told that his family appreciated the community coming together on behalf of them and their son.
Emotions are understandably high at the moment, but the ideal that we strive to reach for must surely be one of peace. Peace starts with the individual. And the individual starts with inner peace.
In this town, this multicultural town, that has been rocked by this senseless, brutal murder, it is a thought we need to cling to as the initial shock wears off and anger gathers momentum.
I will leave you with two quotes from two individuals who were both proponents of the path of peace, but neither of them passively so.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” – Gandhi
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King
These are sentiments that we should echo in what will be some difficult times ahead.
Our focus should be on Lee, his family, each other.
Thank you, Phil. Sorry I somehow overlooked your comment at the time.
Andy, These horrors puncture countless individual hearts as well as the heart of humanness itself. I so deeply appreciate your voice here- –without retribution, void of spite and vengeance, free from the potential simmerings of hate. It’s just beautiful. As a mother who has buried her firstborn son to a very different tragedy, I am thinking and praying for the Rigby family. All God’s blessings on them.
It happens that we sat down for almost four hours last night to watch the full length movie Gandhi. It should be required viewing for entering the human race. My teenaged boys were completely plugged into the experience: sobered, aghast, mournful and committed in new ways to promote understanding and peace. I heartily recommend all your readers sit and watch, of course with your Gandhi quote in mind.
And thank you, by the way, for following my blog and awaiting with me the release of my book, Global Mom: A Memoir in July. I’m always grateful for thoughtful readers like yourself.–M.
Thank you for your kind words. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I cannot even come close to understand and realise the conflicting emotions caused by the death of your son-heartbreak at the tragedy, pride in his giving his life trying to save the life of another.
I hope that you and your family can attain that inner peace I spoke of, or at least a measure of it.
Gandhi-we first watched that in my high school, and the impact remains with me.
Good luck with the release of your book. Your son would be proud.
Thanks for this Andy. I did know Lee personally when he was at school and I know his family too, and the shock of his death is as profound today as it was when we first learned of it. As we’ve seen recently, the aftermath of his murder is still rocking around and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it yet. I agree with you that we should be working towards maintaining peace between the “sides” – and it’s something that can only be done by communication, understanding, forgiveness and tolerance.
I’ll just add one more quote that might help – “Jesus said before you remove the splinter from your enemy’s eye, first remove the plank from your own”. Gandhi was right about everyone going blind if we continue the whole “eye for an eye” mentality.
I pray Lee’s death won’t be in vain.
Really sorry I overlooked both yours and Phil’s comments at the time, must have got lost amidst the maelstrom. Three years ago today, unbelievably.
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