“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.” - Abraham Lincoln
Last Saturday a 19-year-old gunman opened fire in a vocational college in Athens, wounding three people before taking his own life. He left a note accusing his fellow students of picking on him and an even more graphic document of his planned actions on his internet site. An 18-year-old fellow student of his was seriously injured and two men outside the college building were shot and lightly injured. Stabbings at Greek schools have happened previously, but such a shooting is unprecedented.
The gunman was an immigrant from the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia. His notes said he couldn’t take it any more and he wanted to kill as many as possible to take revenge for perceived wrongs against him. The shooter was armed with two handguns and a knife was found in his bag. He shot his fellow student four times at about 8:45 am, a quarter of an hour after lessons had started. He shot two workers at a nearby shop who tried to stop him while he was running out. He then went to a park close to the school and shot himself in the head.
This is a shooting following a recent surge of bloody bank robberies, homicides, muggings and violent burglaries in Greece. The country has no history of violent crime and the incidents have overwhelmed the country’s conservative government, which has been shaken by a series of financial scandals and holds a slim one-seat majority in parliament. Last week, unknown gunmen shot and injured two policemen who stopped them for a routine check in Athens, while recently a gunman fired shots in an Athens hospital during a bank robbery. In addition to the increase in crime, police have had to deal with a surge in political violence by anarchist and far-left groups, who frequently carry out arson attacks on symbols of state authority, banks and foreign diplomats' cars.
Such events in Greece lately have caused quite a great deal of consternation for the locals who now not only have to cope with a financial crisis of unprecedented severity, but now also have to live in an increasingly violent society, which seems to be becoming more unstable. This is a phenomenon that we are witnessing around the world. Wherever one turns there are such reports of violent crimes, robberies, senseless murders, pointless acts of intimidation and brutal aggression. Similar crimes in the USA, in Germany, in Finland, in Australia, where young men have gone on a bloody rampage in attacks that mimic one another and copy video games, movies, TV shows…
How many of our young people who are growing up in a society that is losing its collective mind in ever-increasing numbers, find that the only way to be noticed, to become a “hero”, to be strong and powerful is through the agency of a gun? How many people find it easier to squeeze a trigger and murder, than to wield a pen, use a tool, or work hard in order to contribute something to the whole of society and be thus “noticed”? How many find solace in the blood lust that a gun can engender? To kill is to be in command. To be able to kill commands everyone’s respect…
What next? Anarchy? Lynch law? Mob rule? Gangs? Pirates? Murderers ruling with an iron fist and a gun ready to fire? Next? Not so for I believe it’s all happening around us presently. Where are we going in our collective insanity? Can we stop ourselves on the brink of disaster before it’s too late?