Here’s the story.
This is a devastating news story, and I thought deeply about even writing about it because Kadiza’s family is grieving.
I decided to write because I am disturbed by the use of language that minimizes the experience of Kadiza and each of us.
Our language is important. London schoolgirl. As if London schoolgirls can’t be violent, disillusioned, delusional, confused, lost, sad, disturbed, disconnected or angry.
It’s the media trying to make a clickable headline. I get that. But the reference to a “London schoolgirl” attempts to evoke something in us – something I think we need to think about explicitly.
We need to think about the way in which we expect so strongly that people are a certain way given their appearance or station. Or our expectation that certain things are or are not going on in certain families or communities.
We look at people with money and we think they have it figured out. We look at people going about their lives and think they are as they appear.
So often you hear after a violent tragedy from friends and neighbours on the news,
“He was just a normal family guy.”
“I can’t believe this has happened here in our quiet neighbourhood.”
As if all the bad in the world is elsewhere.
We’ve all got it. All the disturbances are alive in us. We run into huge problems when we don’t let ourselves be who we are.
The type of thinking that expects the suburbs to be quiet and family friendly is the type of thinking that turns a blind eye to when vulnerable people are actually in danger.
It’s not that we should look for trouble everywhere. It’s that we shouldn’t paint people with one brush. We know what it’s like to be us – is it easy? simple? of course not. Can we understand that every person on this planet struggles in their own way?
I have yet to hear about a family where it’s all working quietly and happily. There is happiness. But there is also conflict. Both. They need each other. They feed off each other.
Culturally we are really afraid of letting ourselves be a problem. To look at our unempathic, narcissist, borderline parts. But we have to do this. Else we project them outside of ourselves and go to war.
Schoolgirls aren’t one-dimensional. We’re all really messy human beings with beautiful potential. Much happens along our journey from birth to death and much of it is painful. And also pulsing with life.
The problems we have aren’t over there – we are a part of all of them.
That’s where our responsibility comes in. And our opportunity.