A Eulogy to the London terrorist Khuram Shazad Butt

Khuram Shazad Butt was a lost and pathetic human being who, of his own free will, chose to use the precious gift of his life to murder his fellow human beings. Not because of anger or vengeance against those particular victims, but because of certain beliefs that existed in his head. There can be little more insane and senseless in the scope of all human experience, and, yet, this insanity has run rampant through human history.

Indeed, Khuram Shazad Butt was a victim of warped ideologies. But it was Khuram Shazad Butt who allowed these warped ideologies to warp his own mind and heart. Let it never be forgotten that this was a man with choices, and, that, in a realm of almost endless possibilities, for both good and bad, this is what he chose to do. How ridiculous, how bizarre, how devastatingly futile.

He was born innocent and pure. As a child he played and he loved. He brought joy to all those around him. He was born with talents and potentials that could have been used for the good of mankind. Without doubt he did good in his life. He will have been loving and caring with his family. Maybe he had a niece he rolled around the floor with, making her laugh, making her feel loved. Perhaps he performed acts of kindness on perfect strangers.

All of this is important, because his life did not have to end this way. He could have chosen otherwise. He had the same capacity for goodness that we all have. His actions were monstrous, but he was not a monster. And, if humanity is to have any kind of reasonable future, then it is vital that we hold on to this truth.

We cannot afford to create unstoppable evil monsters. It is a convenient headline and a helpful line in for politicians itching for control and war, but it is simply untrue. This is not how Khuram Shazad Butt had to live his life. This did not have to be his fate. We must remember this and draw hope from it if we are ever to end this dreadful cycle of hatred and violence. Put simply, this is not how it needs to be.

His actions are not just a stain on his soul, but reflect a wider stain that permeates the whole of humanity. None of us live in a vacuum. Everything has causes. And he was, at first, the victim of, and then the villain in, a species that seems utterly unwilling to – not only embrace peace – but to even give it short thrift… kindness and compassion have become a punch line, a sneer.

How desperately, desperately sad for us all.  This violence is not going to end on the terms of violence. Only peace in our own hearts and minds can bring peace into our world.

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