The Swiss have had the same reaction to the murder of the school children and teachers in Newtown CT that everyone else has – shock, sorrow, anger.
Horrors like this have a unique way of bringing all the people of the world together for one moment of shared sympathy. Political, ethnic and cultural differences just fade away as we recognize our mutual humanity.
Later reactions, however, highlight interesting cultural differences.
An article in today’s local paper, the ZT (Zofinger Tagblatt) did a survey of reactions among school administrators. The headline said “Schools must have an emergency plan.”
And sure enough, they do. and did, but some have updated their plans to include the event of an “amoklaufer.” You know about running amok? And “Laufer” means runner, hence the word, “amoklaufer,” meaning somebody goes out and kills a bunch of people.
There was such an incident near Stuttgart, Germany in 2009, the paper noted, citing no Swiss or other examples, China and Sweden, for example.
Briefly, the administrators said, “We have plans, but we’re not going to tell you, in case the information is misused.” That is what I call “typisch.”
An editorial comment in the same issue discussed the fact that in a Small Arms Survey (no source cited, but here it is right in Geneva!) Switzerland is third in line of countries with the highest number of weapons per capita, right behind the US and Yemen, the report said.
Since I now know that many of my readers to click on my links, here’s a brief description of the project:
The Small Arms Survey is an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. It serves as the principal international source of public information on all aspects of small arms and armed violence and as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and activists.
The ZT editor notes that Swiss weapons stand as the first line of defense of the land, not anyone’s “own four walls.” He also pointed out that the American shooter would most likely have been taken care of by Switzerland’s ample social net from the time he was a youngster.
In the next paragraph, however, he admits that there is little anyone can do to prevent an “amoklaufer,” even in Switzerland.
Life is full of sorrow and serves to remind us of how blessed we are when it is absent.