Taking your family with you, whether to hell or paradise

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by Neil Godfrey

It was a terrible week. A man shot to death his four grandchildren, wife and daughter then himself here at Margaret River, Australia. Then parents blew up their children and themselves, along with any targeted strangers in churches and a police station in Surabaya, Indonesia. That’s the first time I seem to have heard of terrorists involving their whole family, their children/parents with them, for paradise.

From what I have heard and experienced myself in the past I think I can understand a little of the motive of the Australian family murderer. (He had never really recovered from the suicide of his son and was faced with the news of the death of a second son to disease.) One comes to a place of such dark despair that death is the “only logical or natural” next step. But to alleviate the suffering that such a step would involve for others left behind, it is easier for them if they “come with you”. [I am speculating on the motives of the 61 year old grandfather who killed his family along with himself but do so on the basis of published interviews with his son-in-law and on recollections of times in my own life when (years ago) I felt myself to be at a similar brink.]

And hard on the heels of this horrific story comes the news of two, by some accounts three, families taking themselves collectively “to paradise” by murdering representatives of a society that their parents and older sons found personally intolerable.

The former found no meaning in this world. The latter, likewise, but filled that lack with a symbolic life in death.

And then a fictive family in the Middle East escalated killings of long evicted neighbours who themselves felt they had nothing left to lose.

It’s been a terrible week.



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Neil Godfrey

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One thought on “Taking your family with you, whether to hell or paradise”

  1. Neil, yes. It has been a terrible week.

    Please let me share a bit of a personal story. My oldest maternal Uncle was a serial killer. That was not known, just suspected (by my mother, the youngest of 9, and his wife mostly), when he murdered (in a –horribly brutal– way) his daughters, who were my summertime playmates. One week after I visited. He was a tall, handsome, bald, man of god. With a beautiful singing voice and he sang all the time on his farm. I was 10. The girls were 11 and 14. My aunt escaped thru a tiny window and ran barefoot over rocks to the nearest farm, would not go inside but the neighbors called the police.

    When he was arrested he said “God made me do it”. Briefly he said “It was the Devil!”, then back to God. He was incarcerated for the rest of his life in a prison for the criminally insane. His son had died under incredibly implausible circumstances years earlier (but it was in a field and no one was there to witness it), then my mother found out that during the great-depression he and my other older Uncle had lived together in Chicago and a number of prostitutes had been murdered by Uncle “Chess”. My other uncle then disappeared for 10 years – off getting away I guess.

    I also heard a family story about my oldest uncle Chess being ‘thrown out into the rain’ as an infant. Apparently his father (my grandpa) had tired of the newborn’s crying and tossed the baby out into the rain. Think: traumatic brain injury! My uncle Chess’s insanity did not come to him alone but was a part of a long family lineage of poverty and violence and patriarchy.

    But what I really want to say is this kind of violence done in the name of some deity, is horribly destructive to extended families, communities and humankind in general. It is a –>poisonantidote<– to the poison. Works within or without any religion, tho if one reads (and knows and feels) the inner core of any great teacher's message, they say the same thing as each other, and maybe one's odd neighbor too.

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