Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paris Attacks - reject hatred or the terrorists win

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Even Angels weep

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ― Martin Luther King Jr.

 There are some very bad people in the world. That has always been the case. Sadly that always will be the case. They come in all shapes, sizes, creeds and colours. They are fuelled by hatred. Hatred is a sickness. Like influenza it is contageous. It changes us, warps us and reshapes us. Once you are infected with hatred, you seek to infect others. You shut out the light and shut out the love. The terrorists who have committed the terrible atrocities in Paris are extreme cases. What are they seeking? They want us to hate each other. Rather than recognising we all have the same DNA, we all have the same fears and we all have the same aspirations they seek narrow false divisions. They don't expect their actions to do anything other than to stir up hatred. They want to see ordinary Parisians retaliate against other ordinary Parisians. They want refugees who have left Syria and Iraq to escape such horror to bear the brunt of the hatred. They believe that causing hatred between the Islamic community and the rest of the population will help ferment a religious war. As they have a fanatical, warped view of life, they somehow believe that a world in flames is a world that God wants to see.

It is clear to anyone with a brain that if there is a God (I believe there is but I respect those that don't) then God made a beautiful planet for us to cherish and enjoy. My understanding of religious texts is that they all call for us to treat each other with respect, reject violence and if we want to convert other people to our creed, then we should do this by setting an example of love, hard work and respect. Anyone who adheres to a religion purely because they fear repression, torture and death, they do not follow the religion at all. In fact they probably hate that religion. Subscribing to a religion (or an aalternative) should be a positive, informed decision. It should be made out of recognition that the teachings of that religion provide a way for the individual to live their life in a manner they want. I subscribe to the view that in faith, there is not a one size fits all. For some of us, the path can be atheisim. For others Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism. Whatever path my neighbour chooses it is incumbant on me to respec their choice. They have the right to make whatever personal choices suits them. I am more than happy to listen to peoples views of why they follow a particular path. I respect their choices. So long as they are prepared to grant me the same privelige, we can all get on fine and the world will be a better place for it.

The saddest thing of all is that historically in Islamic nations, other faiths have been accepted as part of the community. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have lived for a couple of thousand years. In Iran the Zoriastrians were an important part of the community. Bahgdad used to have a thriving Jewish community. In Bethlehem, the keys to the church are held by a Muslim as they were trusted to arbitrate between Orthodox and Roman Catholics. Ordinary Muslims are as disgusted by the actions of these extremists as ordinary Christians are by the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. It is as sensible to blame ordinary Muslims as it is to blame Richard Dawkins for the actions of Pol Pot. It is not religion that fuels the actions of the Paris killers. It is hatred. They seek to infect us. They seek to make us hate.

If you want to do something, do it with love. Do not blame people who have done nothing. Do not demonise people who are as disgusted as you are. It is not that long ago that the IRA were active and it was the ordinary Irish who bore the brunt of the nations antipathy. Fortunately people somehow managed to put the years of hatred and atrocities behind them and we moved on. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela came out of prison and brought in an era of National reconciliation. Despite many expecting doom and collapse in South Africa, Mandela was wise and strong enough to reject hatred. This culminated with wearing a Springbok shirt before the Rugby world cup final. The jersey had been associated with the hated Apartheid regime. Mandela transformed it into a symbol of national unity.

The point is that rejecting hatred and war means we all have a better life. Someone has to break the cycle. When an Islamist fanatic commits an atrocity, baying for revenge or taking reprisals against people who have nothing to do with the attack simply pours more petrol on the fire and infects more people with the hatred. However hard it may be with such strong emotions raging, we must reject hatred. We cannot view our fellow citizens, who happen to be Muslims with suspicion. If we treat them with love and respect that is far more powerful. Anger is a normal reaction to such an atrocity, but we are intelligent people and the most intelligent thing to do is to see through the agenda of the haters and to ensure that their actions are futile. 

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