When I first starting writing this post I wasn’t really sure where it was going, and to be perfectly frank, I still don’t really know. But that’s okay, I suppose the point of the post is that things are not black and white anyway, so somehow it seems okay that this post doesn’t have a clear beginning, ending, or even purpose for that matter.
There are so many thoughts whirling around in my head, thinking about recent events, but what it really comes down to is one thing: love. It doesn’t seem to be a popular stance these days, to be advocating love, but I believe in it and I will stick to it. No matter what.
Love, respect, tolerance: they are a choice. I am not an idiot, but I choose trust. I choose love. I choose respect. I absolutely refuse to succumb to hate and fear, because that is exactly what they did. Fear and hate is what makes people blow other people up.
Yes, I think about what happened in Brussels when I see a man with a beard. Yes, I entertain the thought that he could have a bomb under his coat. But I will not let this dictate my behavior. I choose to trust.
We can all make this choice. The world and everything that happens in it, everything that happens to you in your life, it might make you inclined to hate other people, or just some groups of people. But this is always a choice. And I choose love.
We don’t need more hate, more distrust, more fear. We need to learn to trust others again. Just because people are different does not mean you should fear them. I will welcome people who are different with open arms. I will always defend anyone’s right to make their own choices and be their own person, but I will teach people to respect. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I very deeply believe it’s the right thing to do. And really, what else do we have?
It has become obvious that alienating people does not work. Most of these terrorists are home grown. They are young men who do not feel accepted by the society they grew up in, the society that is their home. They do not feel like they are part of this society. And you can’t really blame them for feeling that way. You can however blame them for choosing radicalism as a solution.
Targeting Muslims as a group, distrusting Muslims, is not the answer, this is what started this in the first place. We seem to have landed ourselves in a vicious circle of distrust, fear and hate. We are afraid of young Muslim men, they in turn do not feel accepted by us, which makes us more afraid. We need to break the circle, and we need to break it with love. These people are not strangers, they grew up in our society and our society is partly responsible for their behavior.
We need to stop thinks that alienating these angry young men is the solution to defend ourselves. We need to ask them why they are angry and recognize the role we have played as a society. Placing the blame solely on these men themselves is ignoring at least half of the problem. We need to ask ourselves, what has happened to these men while they were growing up that they believe violence against innocent people is the only answer for the problems in their lives? Why do men growing up in affluent, open societies choose violence? Maybe we are not as open as we think.
You can’t just blame society, people make their own choices. But the question we need to ask is why they have made these particular choices. And what can we do differently to prevent other angry young men from making the same choice.
We need to start asking more questions, instead of offering opinions. We need to stop pointing the finger at mosques, at the Muslim community, at anyone and we need to start asking what WE can do ourselves to stop this. I expect it has a lot to do with mutual respect and choosing not to be afraid. Choosing to get to know a person instead of drawing conclusions based on someone’s cultural and ethnic background. People are individuals, we have our own thoughts and make our own choices. We are not robots that blindly follow rules set by our cultural background. Religion does not make people blow others up, people use religion as an excuse for the choice they made.
But also, you can’t argue with fear and we need to respect the fear people have. It does not help to tell people their fear is unfounded. People cannot help feeling fear and we need to recognize their feelings. It doesn’t help to say things like “terrorist attacks have been going down since the eighties”. Of course it’s true, but it doesn’t make people less afraid. We need to talk about our fears and we need to connect to other people. All other people, not just the ones that look like you do. And you need to respect other people’s opinions and view on life, their worries, their issues, their happiness. Everything. And this goes for all of us.
In the end, it’s your own choice, you can either let fear dictate your life, or you don’t. Either way, life will happen as it happens. It’s not the situation that determines how you feel, it’s your attitude in the situation. And I think this is more true now than ever before. For non-terrorists and terrorists alike.