Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hatred, fear and belonging

It's been so long I am surprised I remembered how to get into my blog. I have found myself becoming the news-whore that I was after the bombings in London 11 years ago. I have come so far and yet recent atrocities have taken me right back. The news-whoring and the blogging went hand in hand for me, so here I am, back at it, trying to figure out the madness in the world.

Hatred, fear and belonging

In my experience the people who are directly affected by terrorism are the ones who are the least consumed with hatred. I feel as if the hate comes from people for whom every terrorist act is merely a news story, it becomes like a video game where retaliation is needed in order to survive; in order to feel less helpless; in order to feel less scared.

It is fear that breeds hatred. You would think those of us who have experienced these acts first hand would be the most fearful of all. We are not though, we are the ones who are fighting for peace, striving for understanding, who know that retaliation will only fuel the rhetoric. What will it take for the haters to come around to a peaceful way of thinking? Will it take for them to be terrorized themselves? More and more, amidst current world events, these thoughts consume my days. What has seen me though my darkest hours is having experienced the love that grows from this hatred, I have to keep believing that more love is spread than divisiveness. We come together, we do not fall apart.

Today I read a post from a friend who was in Nice when the attack happened there. She opened with 'I will not be terrorized or victimized, I will not let them win. I will not give in to fear or anger or hatred'. It could have been me writing after the 7/7 attacks in London. It could have been so many people I know who were involved. It seems to be such a common reaction to being a survivor of a terrorist attack and I am trying to understand why. I am trying to understand how to wipe out the stain of hatred, and of course I am not alone. Why is it that those involved seem to want peace and those who are watching from the sidelines are clamoring for retaliation, or am I being too simplistic?

I am aware that I am only looking upon this from a westerner's point of view, that is what I know. Still, my hunch, and I admit it is only a hunch, is that the people being radicalized are not the ones who are on the receiving end of the western bombs. Those people are just trying to stay alive. I don't think young men lose their families to American or French bombs and then sign up to join ISIS in retaliation. I think the people who join ISIS are already marginalized and lonely and feel like they have no voice in the world. A mass atrocity has the affect of bringing the survivors together, they share a common bond which can last them all their lives. I remember my shrink telling me that this was a positive reaction and that the shared experience can help survivors to process the experience. He said there comes a point, though, and he used Vietnam vets as an example, where it can continue for too long, where it starts to become destructive rather than healing. There comes a time, I suppose, when you have to 'move on'. I think what I am trying to get to here is that the common experience creates a bond, and hence a sense of belonging, to something at least. It seems to me that it is this sense of belonging which many of the young people who are radicalized are looking for. At the end of the day we are all looking for the same thing, we are looking to belong.

Maybe we can start from there.