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The snap

By Debbie Ogunjobi
The countryside in any part of the world is an area that is considered more relaxing, comfortable and quiet, compared to the bustling cities that have emerged in the cosmopolitan areas of the world.  The countryside is the retiree’s haven, a place to escape the pollution, noise and crime of the major cities.

Of late I have been hankering for that countryside peace and only the decrepit state of the express way has kept me in Lagos! One such location came to prominence this past week but for an unexpectedly sinister occurrence. Cumbria is a sleepy village in the north of England; it is considered so safe, residents say you can leave your door open and sleep soundly.

It was safe, with relatively little to no crime till Wednesday the 2nd of June. The peace evaporated in Whitehaven in West Cumbria when local cab driver; Derrick Bird, known around as all round nice guy, never angry, with a ready smile for everyone got up that Wednesday and shot 12 people dead, injuring more before killing himself!

So with terrorism on the rise, crime at heights human history has hitherto never seen, bomb blasts, volcanoes, hurricanes and earthquakes at an all time high, some may be surprised I am paying attention to the death of 13 people( Derrick included) when thousands are dying all over!!

In the bigger picture it may not be great news internationally after all more people die daily in Baghdad or Pakistan but it should scare us a lot more! The world has come to terms with the poison of religious fanaticism and violent crime is often no longer shocking but an emergence of killers like Derrick Bird should scare all of us.

Derrick was an average Joe, a regular guy, father, friend, son, grandfather; he could be any of us; that is the scary part!! I almost got arrested last Sunday as I got on the wrong lane to avoid a lunatic I had seen attack someone in the past; luckily the policemen had some compassion when they sighted him too. I was alerted to the danger that he posed by his almost naked and scary appearance. But how on earth do we become alert to an erstwhile friendly face that is determined to kill?

Night crawling is not attractive to me and the few nights I am out at night, I only ever feel safe when I make the turn into my estate! It makes sense to deduct that I associate my neighbourhood with safety; I am familiar with the security guards and exchange waves periodically. I am even familiar with the local taxi rank as the kids and I go for regular walks/runs much to their amusement.

To fully comprehend the horror of what happened in Whitehaven you have to imagine that one of those friendly men who smile and wave at me picked up a gun, shot his colleagues and called anyone in the neighbourhood by name to say hello while shooting them at point blank rage in the face as soon as they turned round to return his greeting.  So some people will say no big deal but I ask you to think from the perspective of an everyday person who is so trapped by responsibilities, inabilities to cope, feelings of betrayal and failure that they just snap?

Let’s not be hypocritical and claim that our thoughts are always pristine, pure and compassionate especially to those who have done us wrong? Is there a trigger in all of us that could cause us to snap from regular Joe to monstrous killer?

At times it could seem the world is closing in for the kill; the recession that has hit the world has brought a lot of people to their knees. Times are tough; the spate of depression is almost like a blanket that seems determined to snuff the life out of a lot of people and while a majority of us will survive it and even thrive after it some people like Derrick Bird will snap.

When they do so, they may turn on their community! As tense as situations may get, this is the time to follow peace in spite of provocation. Apparently Derrick Bird got into an argument with some of his fellow drivers at the taxi rank, combine that with a not so loving relationship with his twin brother( one of the people killed) and a fear that the internal revenue service was about to put him in jail and you have the lethal cocktail that turns man to monster.

It is plausible that evil needs no trigger and maybe nothing could have stopped him from unleashing mayhem on that fateful day but I know the few times I have exploded in rage it has been a concoction of different situations and incidents that are triggered by an unrelated occurrence that makes all of the foregoing unbearable and cause me to snap.

Yes I have not killed anyone and will never do so by God’s grace but that five minutes of madness we are all supposed to have daily seems to have the ability to extend for days and months and I am asking that we all not let ourselves get to a state where we become the monster or victims of a monster before we find some release for our stress.

For those who are depressed and under pressure, please, for the sake of families like those who are grieving in Cumbria now, talk to someone; if you don’t have close friends or family you trust, go to the church, mosque or wherever you find some succour. Do it soon or you just may snap.


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