I woke this morning to read of the horrific events in Nice. Yet more death and destruction. People wiped out, not due to a natural disaster, but an unmitigated act of evil perpetrated by man. I look at my children this morning and I can’t help but wonder what a world I have brought them into.
I still remember exactly where I was when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I know what I was doing when the tube was bombed in London. I can still feel that twist in my stomach reading about the shooting in Paris. The level of utter disbelief, the overwhelming empathy for the families. And the question. Why? Why would anyone do this to some one else?
I have heard it said that this is a ‘religious war’. I have to profess that I know nothing of religion. I have a basic understanding of the different faiths and cultures. But for me religion has never been part of my life. Therefore I can’t understand why anyone could believe that their ‘God’ would want to kill others. Surely religion is there to guide people to a better way of life. How can that possibly lead people to want to murder innocent people in the name of faith?
If this is a war fought on ‘religious ideology’ who is the enemy? The attacks are not specifically targeted. But aimed at maximum impact. Not the sharp point of a blade. But a brutal massacre of men, women and children.
Of course I understand that these individuals are not the majority. That religion can be a force for good. But as an individual who doesn’t feel the need to turn to faith it’s difficult to understand the fervour that drives extremism. Yet our young people are risking everything to travel to ISIS regions and join them. Maybe we are failing to teach our children morality. Perhaps we have instilled this ideology unknowingly.
History doesn’t appear to have taught us anything. The human race continues to destroy itself. Thousands of wars fought in the name of one ‘God’ or another. Each more violent than the last. All the fighters believing they are on the side of the righteous. Ready to die for a cause that they believe in.
Can we teach our children to learn from our mistakes? Unlikely it seems. We didn’t learn from our fathers and grandfathers. The generation that lived through 2 world wars are fading fast. Unable to impart the wisdom first hand. I doubt it would even help. How far the world has moved on since WWII. With technology the world now feels smaller than ever. Yet more dangerous in many respects. Thousands of threats to our children every day. Various factions plotting against each other. Bringing about the downfall of innocent people going about everyday life.
I don’t know how to protect my children. I can’t even protect myself. The word terrorism is apt. I know we shouldn’t let them scare us into holding back. It’s what they want. To stamp us into submission by these grotesque acts. But I can’t help it. I find myself thinking twice about attending crowded places. Stepping on the Tube with my two beautiful children makes my pulse quicken.
I don’t want to live like this. Pretending to the terrorists that I am not living in fear. Because I am. One crazy act of violence could strip away everything I hold dear. Just like 9/11, London 7/7, Paris and now Nice. How many times do we have to stand up, square our shoulders and tell these people we are not scared? It is harder each time.
We can’t let this war on terror destroy everything we cherish. I can only hope that people cleverer than me have a battle plan. Because at the moment terrorism is tearing us down piece by piece. I don’t want to imagine a world where my children are no longer free to be who they want to be. Afraid to speak out, afraid to gather in communities, to travel and to experience life. Living in fear of a constant invisible threat. That is not the world I want them to live in.