In the wake of another horrific attack here in the U.K., social media is once again awash with a mixture of messages of love and solidarity, punctuated by hate. Terrorism serves to invoke fear, terror; Its acts are carried out by extremists who believe in an ideology that tells them anyone who thinks differently is wrong.
Let’s not adopt the same mentality.
I try so hard to focus on the positives, to “look for the helpers” and to embrace the solidarity and strength that people show in the face of such atrocities. I try not to be fearful, not to allow a tiny minority of people who are intent on causing absolute devastation, to win. I try to teach Toby and Martha love and kindness and acceptance and tolerance and strength and compassion. I try not to feel angry, not just at the people who commit these acts of terror but at the narrow-minded bigots and racists who feel strengthened in their opinions at these times.
I try, but sometimes I fail.
The Metropolitan Police put this tweet out in the wake of the London Bridge attacks:
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 3, 2017
The replies sickened me. Vitriolic, venomous hatred and incitement of guns, violence, retaliation.
I don’t want to raise our children in a world where terrorism reigns supreme, but neither do I want to raise them in one where intolerance and hatred does. Calls to “Deport them all”, aren’t regarding terrorists – goodness knows if the powers that be could identify every single extremist and stop them then I’m damn sure they would be doing so. No, they were calling for the deportation of all Muslims, all foreign nationals, all refugees. To close our borders.
Are these people for real?!?! Because in order to be a decent human being we all have to be a white British person? Because all abhorrent crimes are committed by ‘foreigners’? Tell that to Jo Cox’s family.
It is currently Ramadan and during this important month in the Muslim calendar, British Muslims will donate money to charity. A lot of money. It is estimated that last year, British Muslims donated around £100 million to charities. These are not evil people. The terrorists who attacked London, Manchester, who destroy lives across the world – mostly those of Muslims – they are not representative of the religion they claim to be acting in the name of. Not any more than Jo Cox’s murderer was acting in the name of white British people or the IRA acted in the name of Irish Catholics.
This blanket hatred needs to stop. The calls to wipe ‘them’ out need to stop. The killing of innocent people that is carried out by both ‘sides’. The intolerance, the violence, the blame.
I’m not a complete pacifist. I believe that we need to be able to protect ourselves, that the police need to have the capabilities to stop criminals as they did so valiantly in London last night. That we need armed forces who will fight for us if necessary. There’s a difference between that, and racists who believe that entire nations, religions, ethnic groups should be destroyed. That’s genocide and it makes people who think those things no better than those who support acts of terrorism.
As I type this, I’m watching the One Love Manchester concert. Tears have sprung to my eyes several times seeing the love, the solidarity and the strength of so many people. This is what needs spreading. We need to stand together – all people of all races, religions and ethnicities – all different but all accepting and loving. I know that in reality, it’s a dream because there will always be conflict in some form or another, but when faced with it we can make a difference by standing together and shouting louder than hatred does.