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Sunday, August 18, 2002


Despite the fact that I have just returned from holiday in top form, I cannot help commenting the fact that many in the world are not so fortunate.

The tragic case of the abduction and assassination of two young girls in the UK, Holly and Jessica seems somehow all too reminiscent of the 60's moors murders horrors. The UK as a whole must be traumatized, and my thoughts go out to everyone concerned.

One small detail. The investigators initially suspected that the girls had been abducted via an internet chat. This began to raise all the old prejudices about the dangers and uses of internet. Ultimately it appears that the persons responsible were in contact through the most trusted of institutions - their school. As with the recent scandal about ecclesiastical abuse, it is much too simplistic to simply identify the institution with the problem. Sometimes the danger lurks were you least suspect it.

Not everyone in a chat is a potential menace. On the other hand, especially were children are concerned it is important to have clear rules. I have had a number of eyeball to eyeball sessions with my 13 year old daughter on this one. The internet is the most powerful device ever invented, like so many other things, it can be marvellous if handled with care.

Finally there is the terrible problem of flooding in central Europe. Here the impact is much more potent in a more traditional medium, the TV. The sight of all those poor people with their homes and lives in ruins is something terrible. And, as with the Ukranian display plane disaster, or the Russian children killed on route to their holidays in Spain, I can't help feeling there is something deeply symbolic in all of this. These people who have suffered, and seem destined to suffer, so much.

Is it simply pure chance that the most castigated part of the Federal Republic has been the former DDR. Of course it is, it would be hard to discover 'laws' at work here. Fate as we know is blind and cruel. This however does not, any more than in the case of our enlightenment predecessors faced with the Lisbon earthquake, make it any easier to bear.

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