The question in my title comes from a small news item which appeared today. The full title is Could Amy Winehouse Have Been Saved? and appears on Yahoo, but it could just as easily have been written over the events in Norway which, as I’ve commented elsewhere, appear to have been overshadowed by the death of a single singer who, as we all know, had massive personal problems anyway.
So, let’s take Amy Winehouse first.
The answer is obviously Yes, she could have been saved. That, however, is an incomplete answer. She could have been saved from an early death had she wanted to be. I get the feeling that she wasn’t all that interested in being saved, that she just wanted to live her life as she saw fit even if an early death wasn’t one of the options she had planned. We all know that there were many attempts to get her off drugs, to keep her from alcohol. We also know that these attempts were just that, attempts and nothing more, because they failed. She came straight back to the way of life she had chosen, to her way of life, and ended it with a blast of publicity.
For me, however, the more important question is whether the people on the small island of Utoya could have been saved. Amy Winehouse is a person who chose her way of life, who chose the means by which she died and, while it is sad and it is clearly a loss for the music world, it was her free choice. For the people trapped on this small island in Norway there was no such choice. They fell victim to a one and a half hour rampage by a Christian Fundamentalist who appears to have believed that killing young Social Democrats would stop his perceived encroachment into European society by Muslims.
One and a half hours. I read that the police couldn’t get to the island, where many of those killed might have been saved, because their helicopter wasn’t on stand by; they had to drive to the scene and once there, only a few hundred yards from the victims, from the bloodbath, were stopped again because a boat wasn’t available. I do not doubt that many will criticise the police over the coming weeks, and probably they will be right to do so. It makes no difference whether they might have expected such a bloodbath to occur in a normally balanced and peaceful society, the necessary facilities weren’t available when they should have been, not for this rampage nor for any other major incident which might have happened.
Could anyone else have stopped the killer? Could anyone else have seen what he planned prior to him setting off the bomb in the middle of Oslo or travelling out to Utoya?
I don’t think that would have been possible. He may well have written about his feelings on Facebook and publicised a manifesto of more than one thousand five hundred pages filled with hate, but that wouldn’t have been enough to tell anyone outside his own mind what he had planned, his thoughts and feelings most certainly, but not much more than that. The people he mixed with would probably also not have seen anything coming; groups based on religion and humanitarian work where such hatred is normally not acceptable, where such belief wouldn’t have been shared by others. Most people can hide their true feelings from those around them, can create a facade in order to fit in, and that alone is what everyone else would have seen.
This is also not a social problem, a problem within our society, but a purely individual one. Many try and bridge the gaps between those of different cultures, of different faiths through dialogue, through trying to see another person’s point of view, but not everyone. There will always be those who build up their own opinion based on hate tirades and refuse to see any other side of a story, any other facet of a culture different to their own. There will always be those who cross the road when something happens where they don’t wish to be involved, where they don’t want the bother of being involved in one way or another. This is a human thing, a normal human trait. We all do it at some time or another. But that doesn’t justify anything that may have happened, or that may happen in the future. It merely shows minor elements within society who cannot fit in, who cannot see the while picture, or do not wish to be confronted with something other than their own limited opinions.
Could Amy Winehouse have been saved? Could the innocent Social Democrats on Utoya have been saved? The answer can only be yes, they could have been, if the circumstances had been right. But we will be confronted with such situations again and again in the future. Individuals make their own choices in life, as Winehouse did, and it is often impossible to see the outcome of these choices as an outsider.
Is this perhaps a wake-up call to everyone? Perhaps, but there have been so many calls for attention, for change in the past and, no matter what we do, no matter how we change in society, no matter what we try to do on an educational level, the problems will continue to be there. No one can change our world so much that such incidents will be banished from future headlines, whether it be in the music industry, in Norway, throughout Europe or in the States. Perhaps we will be able to prevent some, but certainly not all and, while that is a sad conclusion to arrive at, it is the only one we can reach.
Love & Kisses, Viki.