|PC David Rathband|
When I woke up, this morning, to learn that PC David Rathband was dead, apparently after taking his own life, I felt such deep sadness.
To those unaware of his plight, PC Rathband was shot in the face and blinded in the Summer of 2010 by a guy called Raoul Moat, who – after being released from a relatively short prison sentence, during which his girlfriend left him – decided to take revenge on the world.
He lay in ambush, then shot his girlfriend (who was lucky to survive), executed her new boyfriend (who he mistakenly believed was a police officer) and then went on a self-styled ‘rampage’ against the police, cowardly shooting PC Rathband while he was sitting in a patrol car.
He was nothing of the sort.
Raoul Moat is a wretched example of the devastation that can arise from an unchecked ego. He took no responsibility for his own actions and, instead, tried to justify his murderous, jealous rage by blaming others for his situation.
While on the run, he wrote long, rambling letters about how he loved his girlfriend, yet before all this, he’d threatened her with a firearm because she said on Facebook that she was meeting a friend. If he really loved her, he would have let her get on with her life, rather than regarding her as a possession that some other man had stolen away from him.
He blamed the police for messing up his life, when he’d been sent to prison for violent assault against a younger member of his own family. His jail sentence was of his own making.
He died from self-inflicted shotgun wounds after a long stand-off, when he was cornered by armed police. Before his end, he held the gun to his head for hours, crying that nobody loved him.
David Rathband was just doing his job when he got caught up the wake of Raoul Moat’s messed up mind, and I find it difficult to regard David’s death as suicide, because his life was taken some 20 months earlier by Moat. As well as losing both of his eyes in the attack, he lost the ability to do the job he loved and, in the later part of last year, he moved away from his wife and family.
He was in constant pain, due to the nerve damage from his injuries, and, sadly, never made peace with the changes in his life.
A statement on the charity David founded after the attack – The Blue Lamp Foundation – which supports criminally injured members of the emergency services in the UK, as well as their families, reads:
It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of David Rathband.
Since being shot in July 2010, David struggled to come to terms with his horrific injuries and the traumatic effect they had on him and his family and friends.
David’s legacy will live on in the form of The Blue Lamp Foundation, which bears his name. The Foundation was started by David to help emergency services personnel injured in the line of duty as the result of a criminal act.
It was David’s wish that those who found themselves in a similar position to him could receive the support that wasn’t available to him at the time.
David’s family have asked that their privacy be respected at this time and they are allowed the time and space to reflect and grieve.
I’m sure that there is life after this life, and I hope, wherever David Rathband went to, Raoul Moat was there to meet him and, through the forgiveness that comes from a mind stripped of ego, both are at peace.
Some people may struggle with the idea that Raoul Moat deserves forgiveness, or that he would even to go to the same place as David Rathband, but Moat’s actions were just an extreme of what so many of us do in our lives… unless we were born as a Zen master.
How many of us can say that, when we’re having a bad day, we don’t let others know about it? How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never tried to shift the blame of responsibility for failure arising from our own actions on to those close to us, or to the wider populace, or institutions, or the government?
Too often, we look for someone else to blame, rather than accepting that we just didn’t get it right this time. We give up rather than try harder.
The lesson is to learn that when we mess up, we present ourselves with the opportunity to change, improve and build a better life for ourselves.
If Raoul Moat had have realised this, all the devastation that he caused wouldn’t have happened, and maybe he’d have found love with some other woman; his ex-girlfriend could have been happy with her new man; David Rathband would still be with us, though anonymously, just getting on with his job and his life.
Instead, along with many others across the UK and the wider world, my heart goes out to PC Rathband’s family and friends as they come to terms with their heart-breaking loss.