This morning a hero died, Arnaud Beltrame, the gendarme who exchanged himself for a hostage, knowing he had little chance of coming out of the siege alive. He didn’t. His assassin was not a hero, or a martyr, though that is how he wanted to be remembered. He was a small time delinquent with a great big chip on his shoulder. I don’t much care whether he represents his co-religionists or not, whether he was a good or a deluded Muslim. He used religion as an excuse to go on a rampage and rob others of their lives, but he could just as easily have used a political ideology, or the kind of nauseating notions that don’t deserve the title of ideology.

The US gun control debate has no place in this tragic episode, and the recuperation of these deaths for their own ends by the pro-shooters sickens me. Gun violence and sectarian differences are what caused it—only their elimination could have prevented it. Until we learn to think for ourselves, to be able to look at our fellow human beings as our equals, to stop defining ourselves by our colour, religious affiliation or gender, to learn compassion for all things, to find better uses for our spare time than shooting and killing or muttering prayers to one or other of the various gods/spiritual entities humankind has invented, our species will never reach the heights of goodness of dogdom.


Gull soars skyward

a spirit dissipates

our shame lingers.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

25 thoughts on “Words”

  1. Well said Jane a hero indeed he must of known how it would end. I just dispare of this world . Man’s inhumaty to Man is beyond belief. Humans are the animals and religion and culture are the Beast.

    1. His colleagues say he knew what he was doing. I can’t help wondering how the hostage feels. Must be awful to think that someone died in your place. She has a lot to live up to now.

  2. I read about this man, Arnaud Beltrame, earlier today. Well said, Jane.
    The hostage he replaced does have a burden to bear. Perhaps she will do something good in his memory, or in response to this event.

    1. This story really saddened me, and for the moment honouring this man’s courage has taken the place of all the usual recriminations.
      I hope the woman he saved does do something in his memory, but that would require a grain of heroism too and we don’t all have that.

  3. Jane , I read the news today morning and your post really hit home. His sacrifice redeems my faith in humanity. Even with all the bad apples, all the demagogues, the false prophets, mankind will survive till that light flickers in our hearts.

    1. There is so much awfulness going on and we let it go without much reaction. The war in Syria, the Rohingya massacre, the less than overwhelming turnout for the march in the US yesterday, another senseless shooting spree near Carcassonne, just make me feel that we don’t care enough about human life.

      1. Many people do not appear to care enough (or at all) for life in general. Fortunately there are good people in this world but sometimes it seems to be a losing battle as the darkness can envelop. You’d not have a conscience if you didn’t feel that sometimes. It is more testimony to your awareness that we aren’t doing enough en mass.

      2. There’s the not being aware of what’s going on, and there’s jumping to the wrong conclusions, blaming the wrong people because that comforts a deeply rooted prejudice. We are a real tangled mess;

      3. Yep. I mean I could say that France was irrevocably ruined because when the Jews lived there in greater numbers they began to feel run out by the increase in Muslim numbers and there may be some truth to that, but it’s so much more than that, so you’re right, we cannot just lash out and say something without knowing so much more about the story. It is so tangled. There is no one guilty party or even, a way out. The only thing we can rely upon is the hope that people will get tired of hating one another and somehow come together. I find religious extremists of any kind do not usually do this, which is why I am mostly against religion per say (not faith) as it seems to spread judging divisions

      4. The big problem with religions is that the people who subscribe to them define themselves as believers. They put their ‘faith’ first and foremost. It’s why the Catholics were persecuted in England after the Reformation—their allegiance was to the Pope not the King. Same with the Muslims. If Allah or the Prophet has the last word, where does that leave the Republic? If the Prophet says lock up your daughters and the Republic says send them to school, who takes precedence?

      5. Yep totally agree. Faith can’t come before compassion or common sense but often it does. It’s almost blasphemous for it not to, in the eyes of someone of faith, and that’s not really right because that’s like jumping off a cliffs edge because you have faith, rather than querying the wisdom of it. Ah but how right you are, and so many daughters especially have suffered in the ‘name’ of varied faiths it’s disgusting when you think about it

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