I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days, as I’m sure we all have, about the attack on Paris on Friday. I’ve been thinking about it through the mind of me – bringing it down to my level, with my lack of knowledge which is weighed against a sea of compassion. I can’t understand it, or at least, I can, but feel helpless in the knowledge of it. In a way, we have, as individuals so much freedom here in the West that it is amazing that an attack of this scale and type hasn’t happened before now. We walk amongst strangers every day of our lives. Our lives are filled with media and propaganda and an intense life, that it is no wonder as a race we hold different and extreme views on so many different points. Don’t you think it’s amazing that knowing the amount of information; right or wrong; left or right, that is out there, that there hasn’t been more incidents of humans feeling their point and their point only is right. That the only way to help the world on its way, is to get rid of everyone who doesn’t believe the same as them? That’s what the West want to do, isn’t it? Bomb the hell out of Syria and the Daesh and them to us. It’s a complete and perfect recipe for self annihilation of the human race. Our lack of acceptance of others views and ways to live is unwavering – in every corner of the world. And we, the West, are as much to blame as anyone else. We see atrocities being carried out on the other side of the globe and we cannot help ourselves but to intervene. And now the same is being done to us.
In some ways, we seem to have got it right when it comes to animals but not humans. If our pets are too sick to carry on living we give them a peaceful and dignified end and yet try, at all costs to continue someone’s suffering in the name of love if they are human. If we see a leopard hunting down it’s kill in the savannah, we don’t intervene but see it as nature doing it’s thing and yet we intervene when we feel an injustice is being carried out between humans, maybe without understanding the full consequence of our actions. I don’t think the Middle East or China or many other places have good records of human rights, and in the past I would have said we are right to get involved but my mind is changing. Maybe by trying to make the whole world live as we live, we threaten the whole of the human race. Maybe, and I’m thinking out loud here, we, as a human race cannot be trusted with the levels of freedom we are so privileged to have here in the West. Maybe, we shouldn’t be able to fly around the world and go wherever we choose. And maybe we should not be exposed to the level of information that we are, as we cannot be trusted to act humanly with all of that knowledge. Just the same as a whole class is punished if the child who threw a piece of chalk at the teacher doesn’t own up, we should all be punished for the few that reek havoc on our streets with such fury and vengeance. I don’t know what the answer is.. I’m not sure there is one or at least a happy one.
Social media has never been more interesting or telling as it has over the last four days. At first there was shock, followed quickly by complete solidarity. The sea of the tricolore over Facebook was an amazing, small act demonstrating unity. But after that the whole demeanour changed. People started to get angry and defiant; many spouting all kinds of shit they didn’t understand or have all the facts for. Bigotry seemed scarily rife, and some of my friends who I thought I held in high regard I have seriously contemplated defriending – not only on Facebook but in real life too, as it seems their intolerance and ignorance is not something I can understand or agree with. Then there came the ‘But what about...’ crowd. First from South African quarters telling us how quick we were to support the French but what about all the South African Farmers who had been killed over the years and where was their media coverage... almost blaming people for not mentioning them, for not highlighting them. Insinuating that we didn’t care enough. For every person that posted something along these lines, whether it be for South African Farmers or some other horrendous terrorist attack, it was the first time I had ever seen that person say something about it... as if they were trying to do a one-up-manship of hideous crimes against humanity. Paris hit home to me because it was so close. It could have been my sister, my friends, my mother and father in Paris that night. It was people doing the same things I do on a Friday night. Living the same cultural life as my family with the same amount of involvement in the Daesh fight as me... it hurt not only for the grief you feel for those families but because it could have been me, my husband, my sister, my friend. So, do I not care for the South African Farmers or the people bombed in Beirut? Of course, I do and no less than in France but as a human I respond to that which is close to me. This happened next door.... and in all likelihood, it will happen here.
This brings me to my final observation of the last few days. Fear. We are strong people - sure. We will not change the course of our lives for fear of a terrorist attack - sure. But am I scared? Yes. Over the next few weeks I will fly to New York to celebrate my sisters birthday with my family and I have just committed to some work that will take me to London every few weeks. I am no longer shielded by my lovely Park Mill Farm bubble and as I think of these things, then I have to admit, the chance of being blown out the sky or gunned down does cross my mind. Am I being too dramatic? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m just being honest with you. Will it stop me doing these things? Absolutely not. But I am a little bit scared. Does that fear make me want to live better... Definitely. I find myself being kinder, hugging the dogs more, appreciating my gorgeous husband, not worrying about the little things so much, since Paris. I mean, it’s only been a few days and I’m sure the ‘kind’ thing will wear off fairly quickly but I will take that kindness as a tiny little pin prick of a silver lining amongst the big black cloud that is raining all kinds of shit down on humanity at the moment and I’ll keep it close.