And here we go again. Yesterday London, the day before Berlin, the day before that Paris, last week Brussels, last month Madrid, two months ago Boston, today Barcelona and tomorrow who knows? Another city somewhere with victims from dozens of countries, dozens of families decimated, lives destroyed, horrific injuries. Do we have to accept this?
Once again we see people writhing around in pain, others walking around confused, dazed, scared, shocked, others calmly sauntering around taking video shots of the injured and dead, others rushing in to help, placing people in the recovery position (lying on the side with the arm nearest the ground stretched out away from the body, the hand facing upwards; the hand of the other arm forming a pillow under the cheek) and stifling flowing blood by applying bandages and tourniquets, others pushing their families away into safety. Ears ringing in the aftermath of an explosion, eyes stinging, or else terrified residents or visitors scuttling into shops or cafés or bars or restaurants with their eyes wide and shaking, trembling hands over their mouths or on their foreheads, trying to protect themselves from what they have seen.
Television spectators at home shaking their heads and saying "bastards" or "not again" or "how terrible" then the wave of condolences on social media as soccer players, singers and members of the public tap out "How terrible. Thoughts and prayers with the victims, Go (Barcelona)!!" either sincerely and meaningfully or else getting an agent to do it for them and then the politicians promising to stand together in the face of evil and defeat terrorism together, some invoking NATO (the greatest terrorist organization to blemish the face of this sickening planet), others promising support and doing whatever it takes to help. Oh and then the following day flags flutteringly aimlessly at half-mast and minutes of silence.
Most of it is sincere, I am sure. But where are we and what have we become? Forgive me when they tell us that we just have to get used to it because it is going to continue, will happen again and when we travel somewhere, getting blasted to pieces or hacked to death by some demented brainwashed idiot is part of living in the wacky times of Y2K. Forgive me, but f*ck that for an option! Is THIS what our wonderfully enlightened leaders have bequeathed to us?
Certainly, some are more responsible for this situation than others and if we really want to get to the base of international Islamist terrorism, then we do not have to go too far away from, where, let us see? Well, where do you think? It begins with a U, ends with an A and has an S in the middle. Washington started it in the 1970s by playing around with Madrassah to get a supply line of fanatics to cause problems for the Soviets and today is just the downstream of something that got out of hand. Stoked of course by the Arab Spring and the use of fanatics to topple principally Moammar al-Qathafi in Libya, in a move which soon spread like wildfire across North Africa, a region propitious to radicalization through endemic hardship and poverty. Now the octopus, like a pandemic, has reached global proportions and the initial geo-political game has morphed into the monster we see today.
Some conclusions. It does not take us anywhere to go Washington-bashing today any more than it did to seek the origins of the Irish question in the horrific terrorist attacks perpetrated by the British Black and Tans in Ireland, fueling the Republican cause with hatred. What was done, was done and unfortunately continues to be done.
The bottom line is hatred and the antidote is once again the e-word, Education and the d-word, Development. Hatred is a primary reaction, denoting an absence of ability to communicate and dialog, either through stupidity and ignorance or by arrogance from the other side, blocking any paths of communication and denying the cause-seekers the tools they seek. Pressing too far, and creating a cause as we saw at Versailles in 1919.
Those carrying out the attacks are the foot soldiers, manipulated, used, abused, trained to think they are heroes when in fact those training them are peddling in their death and growing fat off the business of terrorism, for with terrorism comes crime, racketeering, arms smuggling, extortion, robbery... drugs running, and in this case, Fenethylline. The foot soldiers are the easier ones to catch because they at least leave a paper trail and eventually show a face. What is behind these and how deep this goes is the complex part of the operation.
Eventually, as with everything else touched by the Human hand, it is a question of money and power and how much. At some level there is State intervention and collusion or protection whether covert, indirect or direct. With all terrorist groups, the History book has taught us that there has to be some form of dialog behind the scenes to bring the conflict into an acceptable political arena and bring the players onto a more level playing field in which they can air their grievances and participate in society.
The foot soldiers will never be a part of society. They were not before they decided to blow themselves up or strap fake plastic explosives to themselves aiming to get shot, and in so doing meanwhile ruining the lives of countless families and denigrating the noble name and message of Islam, Mohammed and Allah.
Those who control the foot soldiers evidently have some skills and those at the top of the pyramid have even more skills. These will be the political players, these will be the interlocutors because they frequent the same corridors of power as those they claim to abhor.
Human society is like any herd of ungulates. There are those right at the top who fight for supremacy and the rest of the herd vies for power or follows suit. Those at the bottom fight for food and get screwed, those at the top fight for power and screw those at the bottom. If the leadership of our world community today tells us that this is what we have to expect, then it means that they have failed totally to create anything more than what scuttled around the forests twenty thousand years ago wielding clubs, scratching things on rocks and chasing rabbits.
So if we are told today, sorry but you have to get used to it, this is Planet Earth 2017, we should refuse to accept it because we have the right to step off an aircraft anywhere in the world and enjoy our collective home, which could be a beautiful home, a celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity, traditions, customs, lore, with its wonderful flora and fauna; it could be so interesting as we exchange experiences and learn one anothers' languages and share gastronomy, play sports together, read one anothers' books, learn one anothers' religions and history, meet and interact with our brothers and sisters living on the shores of our collective lake, the Oceans.
But no. In 2017 we are less free than we were in the 1970s when we could catch the Magic Bus to Beijing traveling right across the Mid East, Central Asia, Afghanistan and on into China. In 2017 we may stand defiant and go about our business as before, as we do and shall continue to do. But we risk getting blown up or hacked to death by some maniac on amphetamines chanting Islamist mantras. Allah is not Akhbar any more than God was Good when his crusaders were committing terrorist acts in the Levant.
This is the world we live in but I do not accept it. I shall not accept it and I refuse to accept it. This is not my world, this is not the world I live in. Given that "they" know far more about "us" than we do about them, it is time for study, time for reflection, time for interaction, time for study groups, time for networking, forming discussion clubs, tabling our differences, listening to what each other has to say and eliminating or ignoring those who refuse to play by the rules.
To have human rights, the precept is you have to behave like a human being. Perhaps our legal systems will face this wonderful new reality. And perhaps our enlightened, University trained leaders will realize that bombing wedding parties, strafing funerals, murdering people with missiles, interfering in foreign cultures, using terrorists to implement policy and imposing western values on people who have been perfectly happy living together for thousands of years is not the way forward.
What is, nobody yet knows. So let's try, through education and development, the e- and d- words.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.