This is not the blogpost I had planned or scheduled for today. That can come later. This is also not the usual tone of this blog.
Something happened yesterday that has been preying on my mind, troubling me.
Yesterday Maggie Thatcher died.
My personal views on her policies, her administration and her leadership are neither here nor there.
What has deeply shocked me is the level of vitriol that has spewed from mouths, computers and mobile devices since the news of her death broke early yesterday afternoon. Twitter and Facebook have been awash with hatred and poison. Ding dong the witch is dead gleefully echoing down the corridors of the Internet over and over again.
This was a 87 year old woman who died of a stroke. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. She is survived by children and grandchildren. She was loved by her family.
She was a wife, mother and grandmother.
More than that, she was a human being.
There are reports of street parties in Brixton, Bristol and Glasgow. In Liverpool and Derry. Of students cheering at a national conference as the whispers spread. Of firework celebrations and people offering to dance on her grave. Of death parties degenerating into riots.
I believe that families should be treated with courtesy and dignity during times of grief.
I have to believe this.
If I don't, if I start rejoicing in the death of another individual, no matter who they are or what they have done, for good or ill, then I start to deny my own humanity. If I devalue another's life in this way then my own life is devalued. If life is devalued it is worthless.
Why should I receive compassion if I do not give it to another?
To see people act this way; to chant and sing and dance and drink champagne and make banners celebrating the end of another human's life makes me ashamed to be human.
We are supposed to be an evolved species, capable of emotion, capable of compassion and that sets us apart from animals.
I saw precious little evidence of that yesterday.