Last Thursday, late in the evening I uploaded our end of September Paris trip pictures to my computer with a simple plan to write a short post about it over the weekend. It was a fun and quick visit to see our French relatives with plenty of laughter and good times exploring different sightseeings.
When I opened Facebook on Saturday, it was all about the terror acts in Paris. I felt frustrated and sad. What has shaped people into these monsters that they are willing to kill innocent people and later themselves, truly believing their actions are supported by some mystical creature called god?
I did look more into news, trying to understand what had happened, realizing there are things that I am unable to relate to as a fellow human being.
These acts by madmen are not the first and clearly not the last. Media is full of different opinions why it happened and what should be done. There is much talk about Europe’s loose immigration politics (In my opinion we should help those, who truly need help, but not those who come over here for just a better life, not accepting local culture and values), islam as a violent or not violent religion, what is ISIS, how to defeat it, Western role in Middle-East conflicts and much more. Plenty of conflict and misunderstanding also between people, who are all clearly against such attacks, but can’t mutually agree why it happened and what’s next.
I don’t know what is the solution, though many of these articles that I went through over the weekend had a deeper message and were in part worth the time like There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS, a similar article from 2014 To really combat terror, end support for Saudi Arabia, Migrant Crisis? Europe Hasn’t Seen Anything Yet, What ISIS really wants, What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters, or latest podcast by Sam Harris titled Still Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon (…The idea that any book was inspired by the creator of the universe is poison.. intellectually, ethically and politically).
Shortly after the attacks Indian blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh responded with a viral poem:
I woke this morning deeply disturbed by the news from #Paris, but more amazed by the attention it received on social media. I understand Paris is a beloved and familiar space for a lot of people, but it troubled me that #Beirut, a city my father grew up in, had received so little attention after the horrific bombings two days earlier. It also troubled me that #Baghdad, a place I have absolutely no connection with, received even less attention after the senseless bombing that took place there last week. Worst of all, I found the understanding of the refugee crisis skewed and simplistic. If you've been following the journeys of the people leaving their homes around the world right now, perhaps you'll understand why the words #SyrianRefugeeCrisis are just as devastating as #PrayForParis. It's time to pray for humanity. It is time to make all places beloved. It's time to pray for the world. #ezarawrites
There were also hundreds of beautiful quotes from the likes of Gandhi, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others.
I am not a religious person (atheists are all now terrorists in a new law by Saudi Arabia, who also happens to be allies of the US!?!), and praying for Beirut, Paris, the world, or someone who is dead or alive won’t make the world in my opinion a safer or a better place.
Sure there is some spiritual calmness in praying, some find harmony and peace, perhaps it even plants some seeds for further actions, but the focus in my opinion should go to actions that change how terrorism is fought, what are its roots, open and constructive discussions, more compassion, information that reflects the reality around politics, economic decisions, immigration… etc. so that different people with different perspectives can make sense of it.
I strongly believe in nonviolence, kindness and compassion, realizing there are times when for our own greater good we have to use a destructive force to protect our world.
Whether it is a violent criminal sneaking into your house or a madman running some oil rich country, we can’t always be all loving and hope the other person will suddenly change if we point our “light towards them”.
Instead of strong words and just bombing the hell out of some far away land mass, the world in my opinion needs a new action plan, so our children can grow up in a world where drone strikes don’t kill innocent people in the Middle-East, car bombs don’t go off weekly in Baghdad and madmen don’t shoot people during a concert in Paris.
Dalai Lama commented on Deutche Welle earlier this week:
We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.
We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.
Back in 2003, commenting on the 9/11 attacks, he said the “real antidote” to terrorism is compassion and dialogue, also suggesting that violent countermeasures might be necessary to fight terrorism.
What would it take for the Western world not to buy oil from countries that in some extent support terrorism or are just in 15th century with their human rights?
I do understand from different Facebook posts, even from my own friends, that there is a conflict when looking at our focus on the latest terror events. Almost everyone was talking about Paris shootings, while there are also people dying in terror acts around the world, that the Western media rarely covers.
I also understand from my own worldview that my focus is different on a terror act in Paris versus one in Baghdad. Simply put, this is my worldview, based on all the different perspectives that influence my interpretation of the reality. I have been to Paris, close relatives live there, I know the places where the attacks took place and I understand the culture more. All these different experiences have left their mark and are part of my worldview.
The same analogue can be applied to a devastating tropical storm. One hitting North Florida and the other Philippines. My focus would be mostly on Florida as I have lived there and I have friends there, who I have shared moments together and will continue doing so, making it part of my world.
That does not mean I don’t care about a terror act in Beirut or Baghdad, or barbaric acts done to women and children in the Middle-East. This is all tragic.
We all care first about the people very close to us, slowly extending the circle from family members to friends, acquaintances, strangers and if we manage to continue this inner growth, then that self-centered worldview will transform through different levels, including more and more, into what developmental psychologists call this mystic cosmic-centric consciousness that includes the ego-,ethno-,and world-centric realms. A lifelong journey.
Whatever life brings our way, we will never be surrounded by people with similar worldviews.
Our egos will forever run into other egos, cultures will run into other cultures, but naive as I am, I believe we have the potential to learn to work in more harmony, accepting differences, so that there is less violence and more humanity between different worldviews.
Worldview is sometimes compared to a pair of glasses through which we view the world. Everyone has their own pair, that evolves over time. What if we all took the glasses off?
I don’t want a cult like world, where we all share a very similar worldview. That would be so boring, but we can become more aware of the self and the world around, so we can make a change big enough that despite all the differences, we can work on different conflicts without getting into heated arguments or killing the other side, though again I must point out that sometimes in order to protect us and our close ones, we need to use force that in its essence is very destructive to the other side.
Coming back to these dreadful criminal acts, there is no justification. We are dealing with lunatics, madmen, psychopaths, who want to establish a global Islamic state, based on its crooked beliefs, willing to kill anyone who stands in the way. How much room is there for a discussion?
Two worldviews colliding. It is like they are from two very different centuries and it seems impossible for them to co-exist in the same space.
Ok enough of my rant about the Paris shootings and all this terror. I understand violence will never disappear, but I truly believe we can take actions that reduce it around us. A world where people are kinder, more understanding, growing morally through life and that in every society.
At times we all can feel a sense of desperation and hopelessness, but I do believe there is a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in individual’s and society’s view of how things work in the world and what can be done for change on different fronts.
I wish you an open mind, compassion, kindness and strength to make changes, your voice heard and actions seen.
After the Paris shootings I quickly contacted my cousin, who had marked herself as safe on Facebook, about how they feel and she simply replied that there is tension, sadness, streets are quiet, but life goes on.
Here are some random pictures from our trip to Paris in late September, with some signs pointing to the terror threat.
If you like parks and botanical gardens, then you will love Parc floral de Paris within the Bois de Vincennes.
Travelling with a six year old has minor limits, as you don’t get to see the city during night or just can’t visit all the places that have long lines or require more walking/metro time, but it also brings so much playfulness and joy into every new experience. Well worth it!
I am sure we will be back one day.