justice (3)

Understanding Lucy Letby

Over the past few days, I have met and heard about numerous people who are deeply distressed by the recent news concerning Lucy Letby, the nurse who has been convicted of killing seven babies.  As they describe it, they are partly distressed because of the dreadful nature of the events, and partly because they cannot understand why a nurse would kill babies.

My standard response is that it is right and healthy to be distressed when we hear about such things, but please do not attempt to understand why she did this - and do not be distressed by your failure to understand.  There is no reason for such activity which would make sense to a normal person.

And asking why a nurse would do such things is the wrong question.  A nurse is a person who devotes their lives to caring for the sick; there is no reason why a nurse would kill babies.

A better question is: why would someone who wants to kill babies choose to work in a neonatal ward, where they would have unsupervised access to sick babies who may die anyway?  I suspect the answer to that question is far easier.

We live in a sick world, where the innocent frequently suffer.  It seems to me we should be saddened when this happens, but not surprised: we know such things happen.  We should also be grateful that they do not happen very often around us, in Western democracies - because in other parts of the world innocent people are killed and maimed far more often.  And we should ask what we can do to promote justice and health everywhere in the world.  What else could 'love your neighbour' mean?


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The War on Terror

I have just been watching a documentary about 9/11, following the USA President and the people around him on that day, cutting between contemporary photographs and video footage, and excerpts from recent interviews with the key people.  Right at the end, the interviewer asked George W Bush if he thought the decisions he took back then had made the world a safer place.  Bush paused for a moment, and replied: "Well, there haven't been any more attacks on America, have there?"

Bush hears a question about the world, and replies with an answer about America.

There are two obvious ways this can make sense.

Firstly, if you believe that America's interests and the whole world's interests are one and the same - that what is good for America is good for the world.  America is safe - this is good for America, so it is obviously good for the whole world.

Or, secondly, if you believe that the rest of the world  does not matter.  America is safe - who cares about anything else?

Perhaps these two ways are just two sides of the same coin: only caring about our narrow national interest.  Following 9/11, America invaded Afghanistan.  It made promises to the people of that country, then immediately adopted strategies which were bound to fail - arming the warlords, for example.  The inevitable retreat has just happened, and the country is in a far bigger mess than it was 20 years ago.  America pulled out, supposedly to save American lives, although it had reached the point where very few American lives were being lost, and as a result Afghans are dying and their lives are being turned upside down.  Are they going to feel grateful to America for this legacy?

Perhaps the USA and Britain will one day discover that pursuing our national interests in someone else's country may give us short term wins but will always give the world long term problems - and other people will, quite reasonably, blame us for the chaos we cause in their country.  Every time we think we can make the world a better place by starting a war, we are proved wrong - and every time we refuse to learn the lesson that this will never work.

Terrorism is fuelled by a sense of injustice.  A 'war' on poverty and injustice might make the world a better and safer place.  A 'war on terror', trying to kill all the bad people - all the people we think are bad, because they don't support us - has never made the world a better place, and never will.



A quote in an ABC interview from former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the dean of Belmont University Law School in Nashville, who was White House counsel to then-President George W Bush on 9/11: "We obviously wanted Americans to live their lives as normally as possible, but to understand that we live and operate in a very dangerous world where there are people, there are organizations, there are groups that don't have very kind views about our way of life, about our values."

This is a very common misconception.  Very few people across the world care  anything about the way of life and values of Americans - apart from the terrible effect of that way of life upon our planet, of course.  What they do care about is the way Americans force their way of life and values upon everyone else, and back that up with soldiers on the ground and attacks from the air when  other people don't do what the American government  thinks they should.

Of course, when you think that the rest of the world should adopt American values, the American strategy of imposing their values makes perfect sense ... but that does not make it right.  And it is equally wrong for Britain to constantly support America in imposing their (our?) values.


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