With the violent events of the last week I can’t write blithely about the bliss of travel. It isn’t time to go into denial. Now more than ever we need to think and feel our way through the violence that is challenging the world. We need to wrestle with terror.
I keep imagining the parents of the disaffected, the radicals, the misguided and heart-hardened ISIL killers. The father of the Paris fugitive shooter is reported to have gone to Syria to try and bring his radicalized son home to a peaceful life. That didn’t work.
What would I do if my son, my only child, turned against all our family believed in and joined ISIS/ISIL?
We see the families of victims in pictures, the sisters, the aunts and children shell-shocked and mourning. And the fighters’ mothers? How does a mother lose her child to murdering and suicide? It’s beyond heart breaking.
We can have knee jerk reactions and close borders to those fleeing the violence. With hasty military strikes we may give the terrorists even more enlistment tools. There’s no evidence it has ever worked differently with the hydra-headed terrorists. I find hope for change in digging deeper and understanding the motivation behind the actions. It may be the best way back to peace.
Poverty and lack of education leads desperate people to take desperate actions. ~ Bret Love
I think that’s true in my hometown and across the globe.
In October Lydia Wilson wrote a telling piece in the Nation where she interviewed ISIL fighters in the Middle East. Who the recruits are, their motivation and why they enlist may have very little to do with religion and more to do with family and dignity.
Those for whom religion is supposedly cause to kill in this new war on the west, and in labeling many of their own Muslim brethren apostates, appear to be interpreting the Koran in self-serving ways. There are important distinctions to be made between the takfir radicals and the Muslim faith. (Read more in the Atlantic.) Still, they too are sons and daughters. They have mothers and families.
How we treat strangers and how we engage with them is going to determine an awful lot of what happens in the world-even when mourning..this is a testing ground for kindness, for tolerance, for compassion. ~ Amy Gigi Alexander writing from Paris
I imagine: The recruits who’ve been radicalized and trained in unspeakable torture and violence have hearts and minds full of desperation and despondency that make death, theirs and those they slaughter, appear as the only release.
It’s simply not true. There is forgiveness. There is hope in change.
There are mothers waiting to hold their sons.
“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder
How are you wrestling with terror?
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I find I can’t stop reading responses to the Paris events. The NY Times had an interesting piece today on the wide range of opinions on ‘what it will take’ to end this crisis of ISIL violence. And it’s everything, from family, community, education, religion, to diplomacy, sanctions, and, yes, remaining alert.
Thanks, Kristin, It is a complex situation and needs a layered solution. Unfortunately the silver bullet, knee-jerk and emotional reactions are what happen first. I’d hoped we’d learned, as a species, from the Iraq War debacle but it appears not – at least from headlines. Your comment is appreciated.
It is great to be able to wrestle with terror and end with compassion. It is what separates us from other living things.
Yes, well said and thanks for sharing.
Thank you for this thoughtful post and I am honored you included my words in it–as well as the wonderful Barbara Kingsolver’s. Lovely!
So appreciate you reading and allowing my use of your inspiring words. We’re all in this together.
Thanks for making us think. It is so difficult to sort out feelings in these situations, especially when there seems to be no solution or end in sight.
Thanks. I appreciate your kind words. We’re all in this together.