My mum has always been a little bit alternative. While other friend’s parents bought fancy new cars and flashed gold rings and diamond encrusted bracelets, mum’s always taught us that there’s more to life than material possesions. To be honest, when I was younger I thought it was all a bit weird. She’d spent her twenties experimenting with laughter and love, travelling around Australia in a kombi with her best friend and frequenting the flared jeans look. She’s vegetarian, she believes in nature as a healing power and the thought of war makes her turn a particulalry violent shade of pale.
What’s interesting is that I, business owner, former law student and all around level headed(ish) gal, am turning into my mother slowly but surely. This fact dawned on me when I opened the paper this afternoon. “PARIS SLAUGHTER” screamed the headline. “TWENTY BOMBS DROPPED ON ISIS AS RETALIATION” called back my facebook newsfeed. My vision blurred with tears that sprung from nowhere and my stomach dropped into my feet.
Such violence. We look at the mistakes of Iraq, Afganistan, the world wars twice over and we, as educated people, shake our heads. Senseless. Brutal. Utterly uncivilised. Yet here we are, once again.
I’m sure many of you, dear readers, will be thinking that it’s not as simple as all holding hands and skipping off into world peace forever. Obviously.
But isn’t the utter complication and intricacy of this issue enough to make you want to open the paper or turn on the radio (I recommend triple j, sbs and the abc are also reliable news sources) and start paying attention to what is happening? There’s a shocking bout of miscommunication that is far closer to home than the tragedies of Beruit, or Paris. Every different form of media seems to be conveying what is happening with a different spin, and it means that often when discussing (or even pondering) these events many dramatically divergent conversations are going on at once.
In a group situation, one person may be lamenting the tragedies that befell the City of Love. Another may counter this with an exclamation regarding western bias and not paying any attention to the similarly shocking activity in Beruit. A third will chime in shocked that a single Muslim person should ever be allowed in “OUR COUNTRY” again, who will be quickly shut down by someone else sharply warning them not to tar the characters of everyone with the actions of a few. Then there’s Dave, sitting in the corner drinking a beer and silently thinking about what he’ll get up to on the weekend because really,
it’s all a bit much.
Want to know how I feel, apart from teary and shaken and very, very empathetic? If you don’t stop reading now because it’ll already be typed out by the time you can answer that question.
I think that now, more than ever, we need to have heart. Heart that is strong, and brave, and true. These terrorists are here to incite terror, and if that means that you’re now not going into the Islamic-owned deli down the road or can’t meet the eyes of a middle eastern man that comes into work, then you are letting them win. For every person who thinks we should “close our borders” and stop helping those refugees in need, you are letting them win. For each ice cold sliver or terror that is freezing your heart, there is another tiny piece of you, of us, that has succumed to their plans. We cannot let this split the world into many. There is ‘us’, every person who thinks that ISIS is a revolting farce, and there is ‘them’. ISIS. Plain
I know I’m harping now, but by ‘them’ I am not including every woman in a hijab, or man with dark skin. They also likely can’t sleep over what is happening- even more so, as they will be glared at today, spat on, whispered about for believing in their Allah as you may believe in God, or Love, or Freedom. These terrorists are not Muslim, just as the Westboro Baptist Church is not Christian. Just as the Norway Shooter and Martin Bryant were not holy. Don’t believe what they are saying.
Don’t let them win.