I spoke to someone recently who was of the opinion that Islamic State, like any terrorist faction will one day grow up and burn themselves out. The fire of their hatred will fizzle out and their violence will slowly diminish with their youth. I’m not sure what I hope for. It is easy to wish for a speedy end to this relentless hate, to hope that air strikes will find their target and take the leaders and perpetrators. It is so easy to believe that this will solve the problem… but our world is not a problem to be solved.
This battle is one more in the long history of humankind, it is not the most bloody nor the most destructive. It does not have the highest body count. There is something personal about it though. These attacks generally do not take place on a battlefield. There is no Somme, no Western Front. They happen in places where civilians attempt to peacefully go about their lives. These civilians are not trying to win a war, they have no agenda. Many are just trying to feed their family and make a life. They do not fight for territory in a battle over land or ideology, yet their lives are taken as if they were nothing more than pawns.
Fear does funny things to the human psyche. It takes us back to our base instincts. Kill or be killed. Fight or flight. Fear has become so much a part of who we are today that it is hard to recognise when it motivates us. It lies underneath seemingly innocuous political decisions, hides in the spaces between the words of news articles and masks itself as safety. However fear is no refuge. It does not protect or nurture us and it does not bring us comfort. The reaction of some governments is to enforce this fear. They teach us to be suspicious of everything around us, to distrust and to ‘secure our borders’ so as to keep the attacker at bay. I look at our mad old world and feel sick at the fear that sits in my own heart and in the hearts of others when there is so much more to us than this.
Every one of us on this earth was born innocent and with the capacity for good. We combat the dark times with humour, grace, humility and most of all, each other. I am inspired daily by the bravery and strength of individuals and blown away by the kindness of people helping each other. I find hope in the laughter and easy communion of good friends. I will not let my faith in the good of people be shaken by terrorists or by the people who are afraid of them who seek to profit from the tragedy by promoting a political agenda.
I will certainly not allow this latest tragedy to poison my heart with fear. That has gone on long enough. I am tired of being told that the only answer to these attacks is to close ourselves up to the outside world. The only way to survive this is to go out into the world tomorrow and show the people around you the most love and compassion you can. Spend every day from now on trying to prove to the people around you that humans are kind, loving, generous, patient and brave. If they want to bring the darkness, we’ll bring back the light.
Love to you all.