Granted the title of tonight’s post sounds extremely dodgy, but please bear with me. Despite the inarticulate nature of this post, it’ll be worth reading in the midst of negative content which is currently circulating everywhere.
We were rocked and shaken to our core when Paris was ripped apart by a series of terrorist attacks which saw innocents slaughtered on a Friday night out. Something that we all take for granted.
I have tears in my eyes writing this week’s blog post because of events that have happened/are happening around the world. But my heart feels incredibly heavy and my eyes are swollen from one conversation I had with someone on Twitter. I’ve decided not to name him, because I’m not sure if he would want his name to appear in my post tonight.
All I can say is that it’s not often that a brief conversation from someone, who I don’t know, has the ability to reduce me to tears in less than 140 characters.
“…I have been ever so defensive over my beliefs and faith due to the backlash”
As someone who used to work in the media, I am all too aware of how well sensationalist stories sell with the intention to gain traction on social media and make money for various publications. I am also all too aware of the devastating impact it has on individuals and communities; that is why this man’s message has hit me on an emotional level.
I remember the inner moral conflicts that I used to have whenever I would have to write about certain topics. I would be wracked with nerves, knowing that I was writing content that would cause problems for people who looked like me. If I’m completely honest, it is something that still stays in the back of my mind and is enough to make me feel ashamed of myself.
And before people start to spout the whole: “Oh but not all *insert ethnic group* are like that” I would like to say this to you: “Just because it is not happening to you, to your friends, to your families or to people that you know, does not mean that it is not happening to thousands of people who look like me and have my skin tone.”
The concept that we forget is this: there’s no smoke without fire. Let’s take this down to a micro-level and think: what makes people snap? How do people, as human beings with emotions, generally react when they are backed into a corner? Or get to the point where they simply cannot take it anymore?
And before I hear the chorus of: “Yeah well I’ve had a hard life and I’ve never done this” – good for you. You have just proven that you have a vague sense of restraint over your emotions, a high opinion of yourself and not a shred of empathy for how other humans react to stresses and traumas.
“…the more people who think like you & me, the more chance we have of achieving this [peace].”
This is not an excuse for the acts of terror that are being committed by religious extremists, but, it is worth listening to and understanding the other side of the story. The story that we don’t seem to hear enough of. These individuals who have committed such atrocities are also human beings with thoughts, feelings and emotions too.
Despite the horrific crimes against humanity that Hitler, Mussolini, Mao and Mugabe committed, it is interesting to note that there is an unusual amount of literature, psychology journals and studies dedicated to how they behaved as human beings and what motivated them to do what they did.
By labelling terrorists as ‘monsters,’ ‘scumbags who deserve to die,’ condemn an entire religion/ethnic group/people who resemble them and call them names which I won’t repeat in this post, continues to strip them off their humanity and deepen the ‘Them-and-Us’ narrative.
As long as we continue to encourage and uphold a social discourse seeped in anger, fear and prejudice, we will never fully understand what influences people to become radicalised – let alone develop effective programs to stop it. It will remain to linger in the shadows, when it needs to be discussed in a balanced and open manner.
Older generations grew up with the fear of communism threatening to destroy their way of life. This generation is growing up being fed on the fear of terrorism and it is the fear of fear which is crippling us.
“Your kind words mean so much to us right now. And it’s thanks to people like you, I can still believe in peace.”
How is it that this tweet made me break down in tears? I actually had to leave my desk at work and cry it out in private because it hit me so hard. We all focus on the external destruction that terrorism is causing in our world, with no regard for the internal destruction that is happening to millions of people who are either Muslim, have brown skin and/or have Middle Eastern sounding names.
Perhaps it’s because I’m of South Asian descent and a brown woman which makes me able to actually feel his pain. Perhaps it’s because the men and women that I have grown up with, am related to and work with are subject to the harsh scrutiny that this man and his community constantly feel. Heck it’s happened to me and my loved ones enough in my life so far.
Yes, they have killed. Yes, we must do something to protect all citizens. Yes, the anger, pain and outrage that we are all experiencing is justified. Yes, we must not let such incidents erode our sense of social unity. But reacting in blind anger will only lead us down a path which we will be unable to recover from.
It is too easy to hate, act rashly and call to ban religions in our ‘democracies,’ as we lash out in our struggle to grapple with our emotions and try to make sense of what has happened.
But right now that is what I am seeing. I am not seeing the messages of peace, tolerance and love that so many of us (including myself) are calling for. And in a world that is currently in anguish and turmoil, hate is the last thing that we should be advocating.