Friday 15 July 2016

To The People Of France And To The Rest Of Us

30 years ago or so, I would not have felt compelled to write as much of this as I am about to. The reason was simple: what has happened in Nice is an horrendous, cowardly act. Many, far too many (as if one person was not enough) have died, many more will be injured and hundreds, many children, will carry the psychological trauma of this event for years to come. That would have been enough. No need to say more, but to offer our thoughts, and any help and support we could provide. And indeed, part of me still feels we should leave it there. As I type this I wonder if what I say shall next is wise. Does it “lessen” what has happened?

But it is no longer the same as it was 30 years ago. We have grown more insular, more nationalistic, more fearful of the “other”. Our paranoia as nations, and individuals, has grown and it grows more so everyday. We have also become more reactionary. And events like this simply makes it more so. The “other” becomes a broader category, applied to entire people, countries, races, religions and even to those without a religion

30 years ago, I am unsure, if I would have even felt the need to remind, anyone – perhaps even myself – that events like this are not the result of an entire people, or religion. Instead they are a small group of fanatics with a shared ideology often twisted and distorted from the one they claim to represent. Fanatics of course have always been with us, possibly as long as society has existed. They have been, and remain, of many races, religions, philosophies and ideologies. They have many goals, but important among them is to generate fear , distrust and to increase their own number. When we turn against each other, against our neighbours, against the “other”, when we allow our prejudices and fear to run wild we help them succeed. Alas, events over the past few years, have shown me that they are very good at this. And some countries seem more  easily manipulated than others. To my eternal shame the UK is one such country.  However, this not a time to grow further apart but to grow closer together. And no, this is not about events in a loosely held together political and economic alliance, even if recent and continuous strains in this alliance are a sign, but not the cause, of how insular and fearful we are becoming.

It does not matter if we are part of an economic alliance, what matters now is that we don't let “them” get what they want. We shall not let them make us afraid and paranoid, make us turn against each other, our neighbours against the “other” -  those obviously different . We have only one enemy and they are not a people, a race, a religion but a twisted ideology that lies, cheats, rewards with wealth and uses fear, to expand its number. Let us not help them.

To the people of France, to the people of Nice, let them know we are with them at this time, as we are with all of those people that simply wish to live their lives, but right now, with them most of all.

All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.
Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend.