I have just read a particularly sad story on the BBC News website. A man was stabbed to death whilst travelling to the hospital to visit his baby son, born only that morning. His three-year-old daughter was with him at the time and this all took place in broad daylight is a busy public place.
Now the man's wife has suddenly to face the prospect of bringing up two small children all on her own. OK, lots of single mums do that, but let's face it, most single mums aren't suddenly deserted by their partners on the day of their child's birth.
Murder is always going to be a tragedy for the family of the victim, but for this family, it seems that it could hardly have come at a worse time. Now two kids have to grow up without their dad. I just hope for her sake that the little girl does not remember what happened.
The murderer is also a thief. He has stolen the life of his victim - obviously. He has also stolen from the family and from everyone else because the world has now been deprived of any possible goodness and joy that the victim might have given it (OK, the victim might have been pure evil, but it's not terribly likely, is it?).
Oddly enough, I doubt that the murderer is pure evil either and may even now be wishing to God he could undo what he did today (if only to avoid prison). He can't, of course, and is going to have to live with it, but at least he gets to live, which is more than can be said for his victim.
It's tempting to wish for the death penalty for murderers and, while it's a definite way of preventing re-offending, it's no deterrent to someone who, probably in the heat of an argument, lashed out with a knife with little or no thought for the consequences (this murder arose from an argument, we're told).
Anger and hostility is everywhere these days, it seems, and self-control in public is becoming rarer by the day. It's not about knife bans and gun bans and harsh sentencing – we all need to learn from an early age how to deal with situations where our personal will is frustrated and with the seemingly inevitable rage that goes with it.
Grace is a very old-fashioned word, but our society is crying out for it. We need to start being more gracious with each other, more tolerant, and dare I say, more yielding. This is something I really need to learn. When I think back over the years about the number of times I've been in arguments with people who could easily been carrying a knife...
Some things are worth insisting on, but let's face it, most of what we get annoyed on a daily basis about is pretty trivial. Not worth dying for and certainly not worth killing for.