I was saddened this morning to read in my newspaper about the 14 year old girl blogger shot in the head in Pakistan for defying the Taliban by daring to go to seek an education. I was actually shocked at the cruelty of such an act. After a lifetime living in Glasgow there isn't many things that I haven't seen that still shocks me. It is very easy to glorify guns and other violent acts on the big screen, the hero always stands up after being shot and declares his injury to be merely 'a flesh wound' as he kisses the leading lady and drives off in a gaudy looking sports car. In reality, violence is very different. Cruelty seems to be on the rise. My generation seems not to have instilled any lessons on today's up and coming baw bags.
Rival drug dealers in Scotland during the early eighties perfected the removal of an eyeball using a blunt edged teaspoon. It got to the stage where Boots the chemists made a fortune selling plastic eye patches at the rate of sometimes 20 per month. For a while, Glasgow appeared to be a happy hunting ground for great hordes of tattooed pirates during the late summer of 86. All that was missing was the Black Pearl moored to the side of the Erskine Bridge as she stuck fast in the mud of the dingy River Clyde. Stop a moment to think about the excruciating pain involved in such a barbaric act. Now think about the mentality of a person who could do such harm to another human being. Shooting an innocent bairn in the head takes violence to a completely different level.
Take it from someone who has been shot, the pain and shock is horrific and can best be described as being hit with a very large hammer. Back in the day I was in my physical prime. I was pretty much known for showing little fear, pain or emotion in my old trade. Let me tell you this, the pain of being shot near had me peeing in my pants and crying out for the mammy. When a fast moving blunt object hits you at speed and forces itself through your body narrowly missing your vital organs, then smashes through several layers of skin and then rips an exit hole in your side, you fall over and you do not continue to fight. Anyone who claims not to experience fear and pain when shot is a liar.
Fear is one of the most powerful aspects of our society in general because it is something we share in collectively and all understand. Nobody, regardless of location, reputation, connections or marital name is immune to fear and it’s powerful feeling that we’ve all felt since birth. We’ve tried over the many thousands of years since science first created mankind to understand it and most recently we’ve had psychology spring up to attempt to explain some of the many reasons why humans are afraid.
If you put any fear on a pedestal and break it down we all agree on one thing: fear results when we find ourselves uncertain of what is about to happen. In other words, the number one leading thing that sparks us to become afraid of anything is our uncertainty, doubt or any other emotion that leaves us feeling powerless. I have a loyal friend who stood beside me for many years, through thick and thin, during a different time growing up in Glasgow, he and I are both respectable these days and would pass for being 'worky-type lads' as we prop up the bar on a Friday night in one of our old haunts. Apart of course, for the very neat deep slice that still separates the hair on the right side of his head from where a meat cleaver was embedded during a scuffle over something quite trivial.
It took him the best part of three years to recover from the initial injury, then the various operations over the years to regain his balance, sight and speech. He freely admits to his fear. He has recovered now, but it stopped him dead in his tracks and made him look at violence from a different perspective. On the night in question I cannae recall seeing a beautiful woman dabbing his forehead with a wet-wipe and helping him into her bed. I do recall dragging him across a bar, shots being fired, with a large flap of his scalp gaping open and pumping blood and splinters of white bone all over his favourite camel hair coat. No heroes were present in that bar. No heroes were created after the incident had been forgotten. The real heroes had already walked away and were probably at home watching the TV.
Violence is horrific in any form. It is grotesque and usually fails to achieve anything other than more violence. Yes, I am a hypocrite, a bloody big one in fact, but that is not the point of this post. It doesn't take a big man to shoot a little girl. The bravery belongs to a small oppressed child who stood up for what she believes in and shamed a breed of savages that live and will hopefully die by the sword. No war has ever been won by violence. It is clever thinking, strategy and brains that win the day. I hope that her courage is a message to others and a warning to some. The Taliban failed when they attacked her. They failed in the eyes of the civilised world. The bairn on the other hand, she achieved my respect and that of many people across the world. Good for her, I hope that she can go on to find that education. It certainly never did me any harm.
Ironically enough, it was violence that foiled the infamous attack on Glasgow airport a few years back by terrorist extremists armed to the teeth and a jeep full of bombs. One Glaswegian gave them the beating of their life halfway through their attack, he averted a major catastrophe and sent a clear message to the world when he was later interviewed. "This is not England, if you come to Glasgow to do us harm we will set about you!" My theory may have just gone out of the windy. What can I say, Glasgow folk, eh?