Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Problems out there in our world

There's a huge problem out there in our world, people going about their daily business are being killed. And not just in France. All this outpouring for the people killed in Paris has left me feeling uncomfortable. There are many questions in my mind about this and I've been largely silent in the places where I usually engage, trying to make some sense of it all.

I read a comment made when a prominent leader of an Islamic country condemned  this heinous act. And don't get me wrong, I am as horrified as everyone else that gunmen entered a building and killed people as they did. My heart goes out to their families, I can't image how they must be feeling. I recognised my disconnect when I read that comment.

The reader asked where the condemnation was from this leader for the thousands killed in Palestine. Where the Islamic leaders were while Gaza was destroyed. And Syria. Another commentator asked where the condemnation was for the atrocities by Boko Haram. There are many examples of people being killed by extremist groups or individuals in the name of their religion. Examples not treated with this same outpouring.

Why not? There is research that shows people are not able to cope with mass destruction, that the sheer number of people involved in some of the worlds atrocities is so overwhelming as to be unimaginable. Take an incident where a face, a name, a personality can be shared and honoured then people can relate and feel the outrage they must at these types of acts. Maybe people have had enough, the straw that broke the camels back as it were.

Then there's that emotive word terrorist. So what is a terrorist? Are the only terrorists in the world Islamic? Surely one would have to be naive to believe that. Or listen to the mainstream western media with their emphasis on terror, terrorism and Muslims. Synonymous? Not unless the only people who can feel terror are non Muslims.

What about the terror of having your country invaded, your men and boys imprisoned in some far off detention centre for life with no trial. What about the terror of a bulldozer destroying your home as you stand by helpless with soldiers' guns aimed at your family, your children. What about running from bombs as they rain down on your homes, sheltering your small baby with your body. What about the terror of the 92 young people killed in Norway or the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram or the many school shootings in America. There is no monopoly on terror or terrorists. They have no one true religion, race, culture.

There does seem to be a concerted effort by western media, in particular channels like Fox in the US, to hype up situations with talk of terror and terrorists and Islam. Interchangeably. Birmingham is even an Islamic stronghold where non Muslims don't venture. Now those who know may well laugh at the ridiculousness of that, and Fox has since apologised, but those who don't know may well believe this to be true. Say it often enough and loud enough and with enough authority to a wide enough audience then it becomes the truth. There are many examples of this in our recent history.

Much of my discomfort comes from the condemnation of a group of innocent people who practice a peaceful religion, family people, people who contribute greatly to our world and do not deserve to be condemned. Who should not feel like they have to apologise for the destruction perpetrated by a minority group of fundamentalists. Does this happen to people of any other religion?

My thoughts are also with the family and friends of the young men killed in this tragic set of events, those who killed in the name of their religion. Their families must be grieving for their children too. 

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