I am stunned and appalled.
I had very brief contact with Jo Cox several years ago - in the aid context. I cannot honestly say I "knew" her but the brief contact was friendly, polite, efficient, and very definitely interested in the needs of other people. I liked her "Yes, we can do that" attitude. An aid worker was able to go out and do great good because she gave a little help.
The world needs people like that.
Jo is not the first person I have had contact with to die in violent circumstances. I have lost several colleagues that way. It's one of the things about aid work, especially aid work in war zones. Sometimes the people who go out to help die.
It isn't always something you hear about. They go to dangerous places, into war zones and places where disease, hunger and poverty is so great that anyone who has anything of value is at risk. Their help, however necessary, isn't always welcome. How often do rebels want to prevent aid getting through? How often do proud people resent the need for external assistance when they are used to do everything for themselves?
Aid work isn't romantic. It isn't fun. It's a deadly serious and often very dangerous business. Even when it is relatively safe it is about work - working long hours, often in uncomfortable conditions. I will forever remember the e-mail I had from a doctor who has given up part of his holiday each year to work in Africa, "They've built a tiny room for me to sleep in. It has a bed - luxury." Until then he had slept on the hospital floor. There had always been something more important to build.
Jo should not have died like that. England is supposed to be "safe". It is supposed to be a place of open hands reaching out to grasp other open hands. It isn't supposed to be a place of clenched fists. Downunder is supposed to be a place of open hands too. We can't work with fists clenched around knives and guns.
I am not sure what "safe" is any more but I know it involves open hands and reaching out.