Saturday 22 October 2016

The deadly desire for belonging

Published 24/07/2016 | 02:30

The Nice attack took place on Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice (AP)
The Nice attack took place on Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice (AP)

Sir - Like the majority of people I was shocked by the atrocity that happened in Nice just over a week ago. How could someone drive a 19 tonne truck through a crowded promenade intent on killing as many people as possible, children included? Surely these couldn't be the actions of a sane individual.

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In his article Fergal Keane (Sunday Independent, July 17) offers his insights into why this man, who I believe doesn't deserve to have his name mentioned, carried out the cowardly act that he did. He postulates that Salafism - Salafis are fundamentalists who believe in a return to the original ways of Islam - is "a perverse gift for angry, alienated, confused and sometimes mentally disturbed young men".

From reports emerging, this man seems to fit this profile. Apparently he was a loner and wife-beater. The perpetrator of the Orlando shootings in which 49 people were killed in a gay nightclub, also in the name of Isil, fitted this profile too. He was a closet homosexual who used gay dating apps and frequented gay bars. The theme of isolation can also be seen in this individual.

Fergal Keane states that "most are drawn by a desire for belonging". This desire is fundamental to us as human beings. It permeates our lives from birth to death. Most of us are born into a certain religion. We go to schools to which we have huge loyalty and are very proud of. We join clubs, support sporting organisations generally based on the counties we grew up in.

For people who for whatever reason feel excluded in society, they can often seek to fulfil this need in other ways. Support for an organisation like Isil which is notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings can mirror their own unstable and angry state of mind. The knowledge that carrying out a mass attack will give the person notoriety can also have a deluded appeal for such individuals.

Years ago there was a much bigger problem with people invading soccer games, sometimes in the nude. TV cameras zoomed in on these people and they often found themselves plastered across media outlets, especially if it was a major sporting event. Nowadays TV cameras do not show such incursions and their frequency is much diminished. I believe that a similar media blackout should be observed on perpetrators of mass homicide, especially if the instigator ends up dead. I'm not saying this is the ultimate solution, but it may deter some people who feel driven by their sense of belonging and their desire for infamy from carrying out such horrific acts.

Tommy Roddy


The courage to call it what it is

Sir - It's great to see some of your courageous writers calling a spade a spade as far as radical Islam's threat to the destruction of our way of life is concerned.

To think that their demands that we change our ways to accommodate them is outrageous. Of course our weak Government has already allowed our hospitals to remove religious symbols to appease them.

The Angelus has been denuded of any religious icons by RTE.

Then instead of standing up for our Christian history and way of life we have now agreed to have religious teachings taken from our schools to accommodate these demands. We are really making it easy for these new migrants to take our over customs. Why are they coming here in such large numbers? What is their purpose?

For many years, all forms of religions have adapted to our historic way of life.

The Jews also, who have been suffering from terrorism since Israel was born, have also adapted to our ancient customs. I would advise our Government to be more proactive in this regard.

John N Barry


Co Dublin

How art of hatred was truly learned

Sir - Sarah Carey's article (Sunday Independent, July 17)referring to the horrific attack in the south of France hit the proverbial nail on the head, unlike so many others who try endlessly to analyze the reasons why we seem to be on a mission to destroy each other. She makes the point that it's just tribalism and it's all primeval.

I've thought the same for a long time now, in fact to go a step further it is most probably genetic and goes back to a time when we were in the first stages of our evolutionary journey - when mankind first emerged and took over guardianship of the planet we began to multiply, then it was time for leadership - someone had to be in charge to control the hordes. The problem was not everyone was pleased with the leaders that emerged, so inevitably, those leaders were challenged and diversification was born and hostility started - splits, groups, tribes, factions.

We learned the art of hatred and distrust on a grand scale and it was passed on from father to son. Today we call that process indoctrination and it appears to be irreversible, the fact that some of us have learned to supress the gene that causes so much inter-tribal conflict is a credit but irrelevant because the time will come when the urge to destroy ourselves is overwhelming and once again guardianship of our world will pass to another species that does not have the self-destruct gene, and maybe, just maybe, our planet will survive.

Albert Einstein once said: "I know not what World War 3 will be fought with but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones."

Mike Burke


Co Clare

The sin of exposing women's bodies

Sir - The reason for writing is to let you know that you publish photos of so-called women not dressed properly, exposing themselves. It is sinful, wrong and immodest.

Anyone with self-respect would not do it. I'm one of them. It is all for money. It's not everything. One's health is more important than that.

Sheila Murray


Co Cork

Threat to rural post offices

Sir - Reading Wayne O'Connor's article on rural post offices under a new threat was old news (Sunday Independent, July 17).

But it's time for Enda Kenny to get off his backside and help the country postmasters; especially in rural Ireland. They are all under threat because of changes to the way social welfare payments are administered.

Enda Kenny should think of his legacy. Does he want to be remembered as the Taoiseach who destroyed the community? The banks have gone as have Garda stations and pharmacies. Pubs are closed. Welfare recipients and An Post customers have been told to provide bank details so payments can be made to their accounts. It's time to call a halt.

Local people all over Ireland should write to their local TDs and put pressure on the Government to stop these closures.

Do you want to be like the UK? Post offices in the local paper shop, if we are lucky.

I think the community will be the poorer if the post office is closed for good.

Bernard Rafter



A very changed scene in Magaluf

Sir - God bless us and save us, Santa Ponsa, (Sunday Independent, July 10)) near Magaluf, Majorca, is so changed from when we went 36 or 37 years ago!

It was being built - you could fall into an uncovered hole, or across a low wall, down seven or eight feet! Especially after a few sangrias! Simpler times for my then kids. Niamh Horan sure can put a skin on her story and she always tells it as it is.

Kathleen Corrigan


Co Cavan

Those GAA players should be proud

Sir - With reference to some of the remarks made by GAA sports writer Colm O'Rourke regarding the Connacht final played in Salthill on July 10 - on a day we had torrential rain and gale-force winds - the two teams should be very proud of themselves and their counties.

If the sports writers had a little more knowledge of Galway's history of football it might be of some benefit to them.

John Byrne



Leading sarcasm

Sir - Why is Carol Hunt (Sunday Independent, July 17) so sarcastic when referring to Enda Kenny as "Our Dear Leader"?

Billy Gallagher


Co Dublin

Religion and affairs of state

Sir - The hypocrisy associated with much of the rhetoric coming from the anti-abortion lobby lately puts me in the untenable position of being unable to decide what to support or what to oppose anymore.

The taking of human life, both inside and outside the womb has been around in a grand scale since time immemorial and it is men, not women who have been the perpetrators of most of these atrocities.

The invasion of Iraq by George W Bush, for example has resulted in the death of upwards of 250,000 people - mostly civilians - in clearly what was an unjust war and I don't recall there being any hullabaloo about that.

Instead it has been decided to target and prey upon a handful of vulnerable women with problems of mind and body which only they themselves are capable of comprehending.

A number of knowledgeable people, including Hippocrates and Descartes have been misquoted recently in support of the anti-abortion campaign with little or no concern for the bigger picture or the other side of this story.

To give the issue a bit more balance, therefore permit me to quote from what the aforementioned George W Bush had to say prior to invading Iraq.

The former president said: "The Christian religion is the greatest the world has ever seen and we Americans must continue to live up to its principles, through good times and bad. God bless America."

Everybody is entitled to their religious beliefs but I cannot accept that imposing these beliefs upon other people by way of the constitution or legislation is the right way to go.

Experience tells me that religious people who want to share their beliefs with all and sundry almost never want to share the religious views of others with themselves.

The obvious solution to this problem is to keep religion out of the affairs of state by whatever means and then the people of the world may be able to live in peaceful coexistence again.

Pat Daly


Co Cork

Letter of the Week: Lost mother and nana

Sir - In 'The Generation Game: The magic of grandparents' (Living, Sunday Independent, July 17) there is a great section of people with influence. In their joy of grandchildren they could do a great service, I wish my wife had that joy.

My daughters and son lost quite recently a good mother and a fantastic nana to their children. Dementia was the cause and she knows no one now. For five years I looked after her but she has gone now and is in a home.

During those years I fought to get her the best treatment, respite and medication.

On one such treatment I had to agree to sign her in legally to get treatment in St John of God, there was no room for her elsewhere.

If the sons and daughters named in the articles could take a little trip to St John of God Hospital, Stillorgan and see the five-star treatment that money can buy. On leaving there they should go to the old age section in Clonskeagh Hospital and see the huts that are worse than the H Block huts. My wife spent a week there and I'm amazed that the Health Service Executive stood over this as good treatment.

St John of God is a charging hospital. I asked a priest if St John was walking the streets of Ireland now would he be charging people.

I had not the privilege of crying on TV. I did it alone.

Anthony Dixon


Co Wicklow

Sunday Independent

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