THE BLOG

Far From Being Powerless, There Are Things That All Of Us Can Do To Combat Extremism

23/03/2017 18:52
PeopleImages via Getty Images

After the terrible attack in Westminster on Wednesday it's understandable that many of us feel powerless to do anything to help in the struggle against the poisonous ideology that is Islamist extremism.

Yes, the security services do an incredible job. Of course they should get the resources that they need to continue to do this. But we can't rely on the police, the security services, the military or even governments to provide all the answers.

In our communities, in our schools, in our places of work and in our families there are two very simple things that all of us can do. Whatever your views on religion, politics, military intervention or immigration, we all have the power to do these two things.

Firstly, carry on living your life.

Do not change where you go or what you do, and do not let your actions be ruled by fear.

It is important to keep things in perspective. The power of the media is such that it has the ability to greatly increase our awareness of events going on all around the world. We see the images on our phones and hear the headlines on the radio. We feel connected and personally affected by these. As a result, we greatly exaggerate in our minds our vulnerability to such events.

But actually as individuals we are utterly insignificant. Statistically you'd be better placed putting your energy into worrying about crossing the road safely.

Secondly, do your part, however small, to promote understanding and tolerance.

It's well known that Islamist extremists seek to recruit people to their cause by dividing people and sowing fear and hatred. If people feel alienated and discriminated against they will be more susceptible. It's very much a 'them' and 'us' mentality.

It's therefore crucial that we are respectful of all people, whatever their colour, race or religion.

So do not shun your Muslim neighbor but learn their name. Shake their hand and embrace them. Invite them into your house and ask their children over to play with yours.

Do not live in ignorance. Educate yourself about the world's religions through reading or, better still, through talking to those of a different religious faith.

Whatever their religion, if a young man applies to you for a job and they are the best candidate, be sure to give them that job.

Smile at the pregnant woman wearing a hijab on the bus and offer her your seat.

Ultimately, as with any human being, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Irrespective of their religion.

After the attacks in Paris in November 2015, the Dalai Lama's response was to say that we cannot expect help from God, Buddha or even from governments.

"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. We are one people".

So let us work for peace within our families and society. Let us;

counter fear with courage
ignorance with curiosity and a desire to learn and to understand
hatred with love
suspicion and paranoia with trust
intolerance with tolerance
prejudice and discrimination with an open mind

We are indeed one.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS