“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am not a religious man. I may have mentioned this before. Several times in fact. I might even say it again.
I am not a religious man. But …
… we find ourselves, once again, staring into the aftermath of a tragic global event carried out by persons with an agenda to spread terror into the lives of innocent people. How we respond to this event in the days, weeks and years that follow is as important as how we respond to it today.
We must remember that these events were not carried out by religions, they were carried out by people. People who may be a different religion and people who may use that religion as a shield or as a motive, but ultimately people who are not acting as true representatives of that religion.
Religions do not preach hate. People preach hate. People use ideology and twist it to excuse their actions. Some people like doing bad things. They like spreading fear. They like to bully and terrorise. And they like an excuse.
I’m willing to bet that Richard the Lionheart loved a good dust-up. Nothing he liked better than a good fight. But he couldn’t just kill people. He’d need a reason. A cause to fight for. An ideology to pin his emblem to.
It’s been going on for thousands of years. By numerous people ‘representing’ numerous religions. And as individuals there is not much we can do about it …
… except of course, we can. We can choose not to be one of those people. We can choose to be a person that doesn’t lash out using religion as an excuse. A person that doesn’t blame a religion, or people who follow that same religion, for acts they had no control over. And we can influence the people around us, the people who may listen to us, to think the same.
We don’t shout at people. We don’t tell them that they’re wrong. We explain. Calmly. Why we won’t tolerate intolerance any more. Why we won’t accept the spread of fear. Why we won’t be one of those people.
Terrorists do not represent religions. They do not represent the millions of people who believe in the same god as them. They represent themselves and only themselves. And the way we start to beat them is by standing together. All cultures, all religions, all ideologies and say “not in my name”.
And why should you listen to me? You shouldn’t. I’m not the Archbishop of Anywhere. Or King Dick of Wigan. I’m just a man with an opinion. Just one man. But in the days and weeks and years to come we need to remember who is to blame for the deaths in Paris and who is not. And we need to remember the innocent people who are affected by this. The innocent people who have died. The innocent people who have lost loved ones. And the innocent people who don’t deserve any blame.