Thursday, July 15, 2010

Raoul Moat...

After a manhunt that went on for days, the man the police were hunting was surrounded in the pouring rain, in the middle of the night. They sat around him for hours, pointing their guns and lights at him while he just sat or lay there, utterly lost and alone in the darkness - completely drenched to the skin.
Raoul just sat there, trying to stay awake, pointing his own shotgun to his head ... a total stand-off.

This is by no means a tribute to Raoul Moat - far from it. But I have been contemplating the conditions that could possibly have lead to such a sad fruition and I simply wanted to confront the only logical conclusion I could find: given the same circumstances, causes and conditions, everyone's life could end up in that very same way.

These first two photographs were taken during the long quasi-stalemate; the police didn't want to be held responsible for causing Raoul's death by suicide, nor did they want to shoot or even wound him for fear he would react by pulling the trigger.
Moat himself didn't appear to see suicide as his only course of action; although he was threatening it all along he could so easily have shot himself hours [if not days] beforehand - but he didn't.
In the event - for whatever reason - the police blasted Moat with a taser gun [presumably to stun him]. But Raoul Moat pulled the trigger and shot himself in the head. He was declared dead on arrival at the nearest hospital. It was over.

Before Raoul was finally caught, he had attempted to kill his ex-girlfriend [presumably in revenge for splitting up with him and taking away his children]. Unfortunately, he was successful in killing her new partner, who he also alleged was working for the British police force [which in his own disturbed mind had become his arch enemy]. Finally, Moat chose a police officer who was sitting in his police car and shot him in the face, point-blank, but somehow only managed to maim and blind him instead of killing him outright, as intended.

Could it be that this exiled father of two was not, in fact, evil personified? Is there any room in the current debate for looking at ourselves honestly in that bathroom mirror and wondering Could I have gone on the rampage and done exactly the same? If I truly felt I had lost everything I loved, and my life was already over, would I be capable of going so insane with frustration and revenge?

According to the Buddha, we all just want to be happy and avoid suffering. So are we really that different to Raoul afterall?

We all begin to lose our mind, to varying degrees, especially when we don't get what we want - or worse still when we actually get precisely the very thing we were dreading the most.

The greatest problem seems to be exactly how we process whatever disappointment or disillusionment life may bring us.

Most of us manage to just get on with our lives somehow or other. But others are not so lucky.

There are so many individuals who are propelled by life further and further into deepest, darkest misery.

Maybe most of them don't actually become so depressed that they kill themselves, or so angry that they kill others. But we see them all around us nonetheless living lives of quiet desperation or barely contained rage.

When I think of Raoul Moat my heart actually goes out to him. I'm not yet completely clear if he was mad, bad
or just very sad. But I am convinced that, along with his recent victims [and the doubtless many people it will transpire he bullied, abused and brutalised during his short life], we will also come to think of Raoul as a victim too, of sorts, in all this.

I am also deeply struck by the images associated with this particular case.

Sometimes I see a madman, a savage brute!
Other times I see a young Daddy with his cherished little daughter in his strong arms.
Then I am looking at a muscle-bound thug who may well have been impossible to be around.
Or I wonder if he was the life and soul of the party and a true inspiration to his many close mates down the pub?

I also wonder - if I'm totally honest -  just how impressive or attractive I might have found Moat if he had become my friend in my local bar. There is a laddish charisma that certainly exudes from the photo that was most often used of Raoul. And I am sure it was that image, combined with Moat's vigilante-style, self-determinist rampage, that has led to the otherwise inexplicable upsurge of male support for him in the media and all over the Internet.
There are so many dispossessed, disenfranchised fathers, husbands and sons who see in Raoul Moat a kindred spirit - an albeit maniacal hero who was prepared to lay down his own life for what he specifically believed in [and for men's rights in general].

But, I don't really see that aspect of him so clearly.

I see the six year old boy he once was. Some mother's son, probably the apple of her eye too. A young kid with his whole life ahead of him.

His mother must have lain awake nights envisioning the perfect future for him: schooldays filled with gentle friends, peaceful play times in the schoolyard, and no bullies or brutes; teenage years filled with fishing trips and weekends camping with mates, first pints with older boys who could be trusted, good strong advice when needed, first discos, first love; she must have wished for him an ideal home life of his own with the perfect wife and children. His mother must have hoped and prayed for it all for her precious Raoul.

Before they tasered him, and before he shot himself, the assembled crew of onlooking negotiators and police marksmen said they knew he was just about to kill himself when he declared his unconditional love for his two children and how sorry he was for all he had done.