Today, I turned 21 and today my heart broke for the world we have grown up in.
Britain has been engaged in military conflict overseas every year since the First World War, one hundred years ago, despite being “the war to end all wars”. The rhetoric of politicians in the Western world continued as David Cameron stood up on behalf of Britain and said: “Today, the British and French people stand together as we have so often before in our history when confronted by evil.”
As the West commit themselves once again to a war on terror, let us remember the countless acts of terror countries across the world engage in. When Britain, France and the US stand in unity against the terror of ISIS, they separate their own violent actions as legitimate. Violence feeds violence. Hate breeds hate. This is not a case as simple as ‘us’ versus ‘them’, when innocent civilians continue to be slaughtered in the name of freedom.
Sadly, in times such as these of loss, sadness and anger, right-wing politics prevail. The panic that extremist groups create secures the retaliation that they desire. Through increased bloodshed and conflict, the world really does become a divided place.
My condolences lie with Paris on what is a terribly heartbreaking day, but also with those who experienced similar acts of violence recently, in Beirut and Baghdad, with very little coverage in the Western media. My heart lies with people from across the world for whom violence is a part of daily life.
Today, I think of the young people celebrating their birthdays in zones of conflict, for those who can only hope to reach the age of 21; they are victims of violence at the hands of not just extremist groups but democratic states.
If we pride ourselves on remembrance of those who have fought in the name of democracy, we should also acknowledge the history of those democracies, which are built on bloodshed and a lack of humanity. Freedom is not war, freedom is not death, freedom is not terror.
All lives are of the same value, 43 were killed in suicide attacks yesterday as well as those in Paris. https://t.co/Of64Od4wtR
— Alasdair Stuart (@tartan_ali) November 14, 2015
When David Cameron says we are united with France in our values, we should question exactly what those values are. An eye for an eye really does leave the whole world blind.
In many ways, it has been a heartbreaking day but, through seeing people unify in wishes of humanity and peace, also a hopeful one. Today, let us share a thought for Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and the rest of the world. Let us stand together and unite against violent acts, regardless of who has committed them.
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