The violence the world faces, still in 2015, is a bitter testimony. Paris attacks are one more sign that the same mechanisms which drive globalisation and allow us to create a more connected world, are serving as bilateral channels for an upsurge in violence and extremism. The circus of egos overlooking the roots of this problem will not help us to build a more cohesive society. We need to go beyond ourselves and ask why in a time of increased 'social-networking' there is such a tendency for our communities to hyper-fragment?
The process is invariably the same: first, attacks happen. Then surveillance policies are implemented and extra power given to the police. Parts of the media and political class are already using the aftermath of Paris to propagate their respective divisive narratives. As usual, social inequalities are overlooked and frustration continues to rise. As a consequence, young people continue to be tempted by the modern Cassandras of racism, nationalism, religious extremism and any other number of rage fuelled agendas - which all too often seek to legitimise the use of violence against innocent populations. Egos do not see such crises as a tragedy or even a problem; but a large cake from which they need to take the biggest slice. The cycle then goes on and before we know it we are literally living in an oven of hate.
I read the horror described by the witnesses and my heart goes out to the families of the victims and to everyone affected by the trauma of such events all over the world. I feel for ordinary French citizen who must now live in the aftermath of fear as they travel to work or visit their favourite cafe. I feel pain for my Muslim friends in France who will have to face the consequences of actions they never supported. Asta Diakite, a Muslim volunteer for a famous faith-based charity, was shot dead during last night's attacks. Still people will continue to perceive the hijab as a shortcut to ISIS. Innocent people will be denied a job, "just in case they are terrorists." Crimeless individuals will be violently arrested and detained, "just in case they attack us tomorrow." Mosques will be burnt, "just in case..."
It's been more than twenty years countries increase their "national security" at the cost of civil liberties and human rights with very mixed results. Twenty years applying the same wrong methods more and more intensely for a more and more unpredictable threat, wanting to control crowds rather than working with and for the citizens. The billions invested in arms trade and the military would have been far more efficient if used to build a harmonious society.
We need to help support grass roots efforts in society that focus on education, cultural literacy, spiritual and intellectual diversity, so as to acknowledge a 21st century where there is no place for ignorance and superficial divisions. A society supporting the deprived, the outsiders, the broken, the marginalised and those left alone, literally those without hope. We have depended for too long on governments to solve every problem. I believe that our main hope now lies with those who wish to cut through the circus of egos with courage and compassion. In order to rebuild these ruins of selfish gain, we must learn to go beyond ourselves and empathise with the condition of our fellow human.
The world is a collection of societies and communities in desperate need of healers. Now is the time to do what we can at our humble level to help design a more harmonious reality. Some will start businesses, charities, organise conferences, but everyone can make a start today, here and now. Even if it's sharing ideas or a smile around a cup of tea. Every word matters. Every deed counts. When violence comes from small groups not even understanding their purpose, whether they are extremists killing in the name of religion, in the name of their country, or protected elites secluded in their offices; we shall say that we will not give into fear and hatred. We are not against each other. We will build with each other. They are blind, but we are awake. We are human. We are stronger.
Co-written with Abbās Zāhëdī .