Until Everyone is Safe No One is Safe
fter the horrific recent terrorist attacks in Paris we entered a new phase. The war drums are beating. Violence is escalating and popping up at random places. Fear is on the rise. People fear the loss of their most fundamental rights – the right to simply walk down the street without being killed. After the senseless attacks people stop and think what will be next; how can we solve this problem forever?
Let’s not forget that similar attacks are also happening in other less fortunate and poor countries around the globe. They happen on a daily basis in the Gaza Strip, Middle East and all over Africa. We hear about them on news clips and go on with our life. They are far away from our existence but woman and children are being killed all over the globe; we’re just not there to see. They are victims of terrorism, sectarian wars, religious fanaticism and poverty. We don’t notice them because they are far and away, but when we see a carnage at home it makes us awake and notice. Ultimately what we are seeing at home are the ripples of the carnage that are happening everywhere in the globe.
Our aggressive first instinct is to retaliate. Troops have been dispatched and a counter attacks are in motion as you read this. But who are we attacking? You can’t attack an ideology. Violence will only breed more violence; this has been demonstrated time and time again but we never learn. We feel impotent and to a certain extent, there is little we can do. We post and repost things on Facebook and that’s about it for most of us. You can do a lot by just starting where you are.
We have to look at the whole picture and learn how the world became a small planet. Everything we do affects everyone and everything is more connected then ever before. More than ever our actions can influence everyone and affect change. Our individual effort can go a long way and all we have to do is to first change ourselves. We have to be what we want to change. Talk is cheap.
We want politicians to do something about terrorists. We want the government to solve our problems, to enforce something. But these actions end up being aggression and that will only generate more aggression. In the case of the terrorists and groups like ISIS, killing terrorists only breed more terrorists and we quickly see that we are only treating the symptoms of something much larger.
Some say terrorism is created by religious fanaticism and then my question will be: how was fanaticism born? It must have come from the same place where social inequality came, it must have come from the same place where injustice and social aggression came, it must have come from the same place where ignorance and neglect came. It also comes from those moments when we know we should be doing something good for others and we just don’t.
We all create a world of injustices. Some of us more, some of us less. The more responsibility we have, the more we affect the world. Everything we say and everything we do will eventually have an impact in the world. So our participation in the events that can change our world are powerful and accessible in our everyday actions. We can start by ending poverty right here at home by being nice to the people you live with and the people you work with. If you can’t do that how in the world you expect things to change.
Who we are will determine the kinds of actions we take and it will affect others in profound and lasting ways. We cannot educate if we are ignorant, we cannot ask for others to be gentle when we are being aggressive. We cannot expect others to understand us when we don’t pay attention to their problems. Ultimately we cannot expect world peace when we ourselves are not at peace. Our world is a direct and identical replica of ourselves.
Trying to change the world when we can’t even keep a good relationship with our friends or spouse is like going to marriage counseling with a guy who is a wife beater. How can we expect to change the world when we can’t change ourselves. Until we change there cannot be lasting peace. Changes that are promoted by external forces can only provide temporary relief. Only when we see other as ourselves, will we able to have true empathy and true change. Maybe when we start seeing our brothers and sisters in Africa, in the Gaza Strip, in Syria, in Sierra Leone as people like us will we be able to feel their pain just like we felt for our brothers and sisters in France. We cannot prevent a war by simultaneously preparing for one.
Image credit: European Commission DG ECHO