Please, give peace a chance!

Even I don’t know why I’m bothering with this. Almost nobody will read and fewer will agree or take any notice. Even so, sometimes you just need to get it out of your system in the vain hope that someone, somewhere may have their views challenged or their heart and mind changed.

I came home from Church earlier. During the service I had led prayers for all those affected by last night’s terrorist attack in London which has left at least 11, including the 3 attackers, dead plus many more injured. It came hot on the heels of the suicide bomber in Manchester less than a fortnight ago (and I still can’t get my head around choosing a bloody Ariana Grande concert as a target).

I prayed for healing of the injured, comfort for the bereaved, skill for the medical staff… all the things you automatically go to. I also prayed for a light in the darkness; for those involved in these acts to find peace and love, not hate and violence. I then prayed the same for the rest of us, to respond with love, not with violent retribution. When we respond to violence with violence, to hatred with hatred, we perpetuate a cycle and we become the very thing we fight against. We can’t do this.

So, I prayed, and I worshipped, and I went home.

And I went on social media.

Good grief! 

I have friends agreeing with Donald Trump as he attempts to gain political capital over deaths in another country. I see our Prime Minister claiming that we “tolerate terror” as she turns the attack into justification for a party political broadcast. I see right wing commentators blaming “The Left” for the conditions which led to the attack, with some sort of judgemental glee. And I see people calling for internment and deportations.

I have a horrible feeling this attack may finally have tipped the balance and achieved the aim of all Jihadi attacks – to make our country respond exactly like this. You see, the more vitriol we spout towards the Muslim community, the more we seek to take their rights, the more our politicians and media demand draconian actions, then the more fuel the extremists have for their hatred. The more young Muslim men see heavy handed policing towards them, or see people locked up and deported with no charge, or hear how they are a problem to be dealt with, then the more alienated from British society they feel and the more open to extremists teachings they become.

In effect, by acting in hatred, violence, authoritarianism and retribution you are saying that you are allowed to respond like this, then act with surprise when those you have targeted do as well.

So the cycle begins again. Violence begets violence begets violence begets violence… and so on.

We need to draw a line in the sand somewhere and say ‘no more’.

This is that point, that line in the sand. 

It’s not weakness. It’s not appeasing or enabling terrorism. It’s not a case of “The PC Brigade” rolling over for fear of causing offence.

It’s saying that we cannot and will not pour any more fuel on this fire. It’s saying that all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, left and right, need to come together and say that we will stop acting in ways which gives excuses to extremists. It’s saying that love and cooperation and talking are more powerful that hatred and murder.

Violence and killing didn’t bring peace to Northern Ireland, or an end to Apartheid in South Africa; dialogue did, a desire for peace did, humanity did.

We need that spirit again. We need to learn lessons from the past and see that the more we fight and oppress, and strip away rights, and rip apart divisions, the happier ISIS are and the happier white extremists are.

This is what they want. Don’t give it to them. 

Please, don’t give it to them! 

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