Monday, 16 November 2015

Now what?

"Here it comes", I thought.  The conversation that I knew would take place in my office following the attacks on Paris had begun.

The boys were saying that all Muslims, Syrians, fill-in-the-blank should be taken out and shot because there's no way they're ever going to stop.

The girls were saying that you can't lump everyone in the same boat (pardon the pun) just because some are lunatics.

I don't normally write about events like this because 1, I don't have anything original to contribute to the conversation, and 2, because I don't see any point taking sides - it is rare to see anyone change their opinion!

So why now?  Why put something in the public arena that could be completely shot down?

Probably partly because I need to write to sort my own head out.

And I guess because I am a strong conflict-avoider in my own life and I'm desperately hoping that things will not go in the way I fear is almost inevitable.

See, the thing is that I can completely see both (the bazillion?) sides of the argument.  Radical extremists cannot be convinced to change their opinion and there is a case for ridding the world of them.

But if ridding the world of them involves destroying "innocent" lives along the way, up to what point is that acceptable?

There's a graphic that has been floating around Facebook that says something along the lines of there being 6 million Muslims in France and that only a tiny fraction of a percentage were involved in this series of attacks.

It's true!  Not every Muslim is a psychotic, fanatical killer!

But how do you find the ones who are and protect everyone else?

My problem with almost all of the comments I've heard and read in the past 24 hours (has it only been that long???) is that they are completely black and white.  Kill them all or don't hurt anyone in case that person is innocent.

But the world is not, has never been and will never be black and white!  It is grey and blue and red and yellow and a myriad of colours that meld to be both beautiful and horrific.

I'm sorry folks, but there is no simple answer.

I think part of the reason that these attacks in Paris have rocked our world so much is that, unlike Beirut and Baghdad, Paris feels like us.  It could have been in Australia or England or America.  France is part of the accepted West - a culture of intelligence and freedom.  Which, unfortunately is not how the majority of people view other places where atrocities have occurred recently.

So, now what?

We can't create another Holocaust and attempt to destroy every Muslim in the world.

But we can't let these fanatics get away with murder and the creation of fear and panic, and the destruction of our way of life (and our economy wink wink).

I don't have any answers.  Sorry.  If you got this far into this post and were hoping for them, I sincerely apologise for disappointing you.

But I think those who pray need to pray not only for the victims and their families and friends who feel so keenly their loss.  I think those who are perpetrating these unspeakably horrible acts, and those who are training them or planning to carry out similar attacks in the future, these people need our prayers too!

Perhaps the power of prayer can change hearts and minds!

Perhaps the power of prayer can remind these people of the humanity of their victims!

Perhaps the power of prayer can find a way through this awful mess to a peaceful solution.

What else?  What if prayer isn't your thing?

I think questioning any statement or solution that is black and white is a great place to start.

Don't be lulled into the false sense of security that "moral outrage" provides.  Think about the meme or photo or quote that you're sharing on social media and ask if it's helpful or informative or already been shared a bazillion times.

Try to understand the validity of people's arguments, while acknowledging that most statements at a time like this (including the apparently peaceful ones) come from a place of fear.

I don't have the answers.  I'm just a girl who is afraid of the potential effects of the mean-spiritedness of humanity, which shows itself both in acts of terrorism, and in words of bigotry and parochialism.

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