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Starving the Fear

after another senseless mass killing

Another city is in mourning this week. Manchester was hit with a terrorist attack. This one was quite diabolical. It was aimed at a concert where primarily teen aged girls were attending. It struck at youth; youth who are far removed from the political realities of the day. The attack was designed to cause the most carnage. The attack was designed to cause fear and hatred to rise in a new generation. As I write this 22 people are now confirmed dead and nearly 5 dozen are in hospital. The world is once again in shock.

The media seems fixated on the things that it always fixates on when such attacks occur. Who was the murderer, was he connected with a known terrorist group, who were his close friends and relatives, could they have prevented the attack. They talk about could it happen here. What more could the police have done to stop such an attack? And fear grows.

In the public arena, some will look for scape goats to blame for such an atrocity. Maybe it was a problem with immigrants. Maybe it is a problem with perverted understandings that the killer had about their religion. Maybe it is a problem of monsters who prey on the lonely and dejected in society to commit such acts of hate. The Pauline Hanson's, Donald Trump's and Marie Le Pen's of the world will use Manchester to say that we must close our doors to diversity, immigrants, refugees. They will state that if people just stayed in their own countries, terrorism will end (forgetting that many terrorists like Oklahoma City bomber committed the acts of terrorism in their own countries). In the midst of such death and carnage, it is almost understandable that people look for an easy explanation. And with such scapegoating, fear grows.

I think the one thing that has bound all of these terrorists together is that they have been somehow left out of society as a whole. They have felt estranged from everyday society. They have felt otherworldly. If the world continually treats you as an outsider, it is easy for you to feel that your own life is worthless, and if your life is worthless than so are the lives of others. I think people like Pauline Hanson and Marie Le Pen who see immigrants, as second class human beings add to this feeling of alienation of the outsiders. And as this alienation grows, so does the chance for acts of hatred and violence increase. Bigotry and closing borders, because it increases the distance between communities, makes us less safe rather than more secure.

But just imagine if everyone worked to include others in society. Just imagine if every life was valued: my Hindu neighbour and my Sikh neighbours are as valuable as my Christian neighbours. Just imagine if we reached out to the lonely, the dejected, the weird, the strange, the mentally ill, those on the outside. What if everyone felt like they were a valued part of society because of who they are? I think there would be less of a chance of terrorism. It would probably be more difficult to murder someone who values you for your uniqueness. It would probably be more difficult to harm society if you felt that you were part of society. Rather than closing doors and blaming the outsider, rather than feeding the fear which feeds the violence, we need to look for ways where everyone feels welcomed and loved. Blessings.

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