Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris: The Facts of Life, Death and Terror

The Mayor of New York says that we are all moved by the events in Paris. Of course we are. There is absolutely no feeling more intense, lonely and unsettling than the mind-numbing terror of knowing that you are unsafe as you go about your normal life.

And that is the point. A horrible and uncomfortable point, made all the more unpalatable because it is raised at a moment when all we feel we should be doing is sharing the pain of those who have lost loved ones, or who wait anxiously to know whether the ones they cherish are the ones who survived. Intact.

There is no such thing as collateral damage. There never was. There never will be. Those who seek political ends through violence know that the quickest route to success lies through scaring or appalling ordinary citizens. All people of terror. Whether the organizations of terror are state-sponsored or unaffiliated.

"The atom bomb was no 'great decision.' It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness." - Harry S Truman.

"Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always." - Statement from the IRA after Brighton Bombing, 1984.

The US dropped the only two atom bombs ever used against civilians because the US believed the bombs would end the war against Japan. The Germans destroyed Coventry. The British leveled Dresden. The IRA almost wiped out the then British Government on British soil in 1984. When all else fails, those who prize violence as the means to the end know that the surest way to achieve goals is to frighten ordinary people.

Paris was not a miscalculation. It was the latest example of the modus operandum of the sickening art of war.

I feel for all Parisians today. But I also find time to feel for the hundreds of thousands of non-combatant civilians killed in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Africa and the Ukraine. To mention but a few.

But while I feel, I will also say that the answer is not eye-for-eye retribution, nor overwhelming intrusion into the lives of ordinary folks, adding insult to injury.

The answer is for all citizens to demand of those who wield authority, be it recognized government, or the militia manning the roadblock at the end of the street. To demand of them that, if they truly believe they seek justice on our behalf, then they do so without resorting to violence.

For as long as there is violence, as long as we condone it. And we condone it when we do nothing to stop it, when we pretend we know nothing about it, when we delude ourselves into thinking that an arms industry is about jobs, not about peddling death. As long as you and I condone violence in our name, then there will be civilian casualties. Because they are the most effective. Whether we care to face up to that fact, or not.

‪#‎StandWithParis‬ ‪#‎PrayforParis‬