Reading the news of the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, where a man drove a truck into a crowd of shoppers and killed twelve people, I am struck by one thing: the sheer laziness of the act. I suspect that those who approve of this latest round of murders are probably already howling away in their echo chambers at the audacity of their warrior. But aside from the sheer brutality, all I can think of – of which more later – is just how lazy he was.

Over the coming days – and they've started already, of course – gleeful extremists of all flavours will scramble to characterise these deaths as inevitable casualties in the battle for the soul of Germany. They'll say Angela Merkel shouldn't have brought the refugees here from Syria, even though this attack precisely illustrates the type of horror they were fleeing.

They'll do their best to talk it up as a war of two irreconcilable cultures, or something similar. But, as a famous musician once said, "it's not that deep". This attack wasn't a surgical strike aimed at the base of civilisation; it was a violent tantrum thrown by someone who saw the world as he wanted it slipping away.

Violence of this degree is the most narcissistic of all, in that it seeks to seize our attention, and so it should for a time, because these people – killed while they were simply enjoying life – deserve to be honoured. But it really doesn't merit any more lasting legacy than that.

The driver of this truck had apparently been in Berlin since December 2015, which was long enough for him to know that the city was already busy with its own set of concerns. That's what makes him lazy; with his murders in the Christmas market, he wanted to jump the queue, to make his grievances everyone's priority. Of course though, he doesn't have that right, any more than someone has a right to your respect when they throw an egg at you from a passing car.

Berlin truck crash
Rescue workers stand at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square, BerlinHannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Over the next few days, Berlin's authorities will need to make extensive enquiries; who radicalised this man and when, whether he was acting alone, whether security could usefully be increased in various areas.

Fundamentally, though, Berlin is too busy to change itself due to this act. It is too busy with, say, a generation of children struggling through the school system in Marzahn, with the swiftly-rising costs of living, and with that endlessly-delayed airport that apparently doesn't want to be built.

Berlin is now far too busy trying to mourn a group of civilians who were probably just out on a Monday trying to find their next glass of glühwein, and tragically lost their lives.

Deeyah Khan, the film-maker and activist, has best explained the mentality of people like this murderer; they are "the kind of men who feel emasculated – small, pathetic, weak". Every now and then, they'll lash out at the world in their sadistic and petulant fury; and then hopefully, with much calm and a little courage, the world can move on.


Musa Okwonga is a poet and journalist based in Berlin. He is the author of two books on football, and contributed to The Good Immigrant