The recent shooting of an innocent man at Stockwell tube station by Police marksmen raises a number of issues in terms of how suspects are viewed and assessed. Although currently we await the findings of both the Public and Police enquiry, there are some basic areas that need to be considered. Clearly people are on edge, with an increased sense of suspicion by all. It is important to ask what was the premise behind the police assuming that the late discovered innocent man was being pursued as a suspect. Was it the colour / tone of his skin, the clothes he was wearing, his rug stack, behaviour or his reluctance to stop when requested? It is this issue that has raised some alarm. If there is a shot to kill policy then the public need to know when this came into being, together with understanding the way to respond to any interaction with the police.
I recently heard of a disturbing situation on a bus. Apparently, sitting in the front part of the bus two Muslim women dressed in full burka, were sitting on their own, while the rest of the passengers sat huddled together in discomfort at the back. The person telling me the story proudly declared that she had got up from the huddle and in defiance sat next to the 2 ladies. Not meaning to sound too cynical but did she tell me the story to show how liberal and open she, is i.e.: as a token or did she believe in the rightful message that we should treat all of humanity as one. I hope for the latter.
It is sad that society has now got to a stage where appearances are used to judge the potential to engage in dialogue or simple everyday interaction. I can understand the need for extra vigilance but it should not be at the expense of victimisation. Terror suspects come in all shapes, sizes and colours! There should never be an atmosphere of alienation otherwise we are in danger of reaching a point of communalism exploited by mis-guided and blinding leaders. Maybe an episode of this type say something more about how society tends to like categorising or classifying people. It also raises the question of respect. For example, looking at the way religions have been treated in recent years in France in the name of so called secularism is simple distortion. The last thing we want is for this disease of demented so-called part-time tolerance to reach the UK.
There has been much talk in recent years about religious schools and whether they create a sense of segregation. This is a non-issue as religious schools have been in existence for hundreds of years. In addition, there is nothing wrong with having an understanding of the importance of spirituality. No religion teaches violence.
Acceptance is the missing element in todays society. There is a hidden pressure of conforming to somebody elses agenda. Acceptance that we are all the same and religious belief only strengthen the bonds between us. By teaching each other about our differences we can derive a sense of understanding and respect. Not levelling one civilisation Vs another. The lack of teaching history on the basis of parallel world-developments and learning from past mistakes appears to be lacking. We are history in the making but it should not be at the expense of forgetting our decades of mistakes.
Have you ever considered that all life is innocent when born but it is the world that potentially corrupts the soul? Todays education system has a part to play to teach the young and the old that religious values are good and a source for understanding each other better. Communication is better than the potential of any misguided loss.