Here’s the thing about terrorism. Terrorists are in the business of fear. They are in the business of division. Their goal is to engender fear in people, and hatred and division between people. Because when people are divided, they are easier to control. Fearful people are pliable. They are likely to listen to anyone who sounds certain. And if you can pit them against an Other, a Monstrous Terrible Other, then it’s even easier.
The whole point of terrorism is to set us against each other so that we are powerless against the real monsters. And the real monsters are the ones opening fire onto or blowing up people at concerts, going about their business in their home town, studying at University. The real monsters may be (and often are) religious, but their religion is NOT their defining characteristic. Their lack of empathy, their thirst for power and division, these are their defining characteristics.
When you allow them to convince you of the monstrous Other, when you let them make you think anyone who goes to a mosque is a monster, or anyone who prays to a particular god, or speaks in a particular accent, or even, hell, loves someone of an “unapproved” gender is the monster, YOU ALSO LET THEM WIN. THAT is letting the terrorists win.
When your response to Paris is to blame the muslim refugees, you are missing the point that those refugees are ALSO the monsters’ victims. They are on your side. The monster, the TERRORists are feeding your fear to make sure we don’t band together to turn on them.
So, no, I won’t pray for Paris. I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe in prayer. You can pray if you like, but if you must, please, also look up at the world, and show some kindness. Stand up, stand beside the people the monsters are trying to make you fear, and look, properly, and see that they are people, like you. They love each other, they care for their children, they just want to live their lives, just like you.
The only way, the only thing that has ever worked in the face of terror and fear and hatred is LOVE. Love. Empathy. Compassion. Kindness.
Pray if you must. But also, open your mouth and your mind and your heart. Fuck fear. Choose love. Look with open eyes and see that the divisions between the people just like you and the monsters are not lines of religion, or race, or language, or sexuality. The real divisions are between power and fear, and love and compassion. Choose the right side.
Thank you, awesome nerds. You’re beautiful.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou.