There are too many of us who know what it means to have terrorism touch our lives, our loved ones, and our sense of connection with the people around us. Today, France and Lebanon are in the midst of that fog of tragedy. Even if we aren’t directly affected, we still feel some of the pain of the families of those killed and injured. And so even the National Council of Churches in India expresses our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in France, Lebanon and across the world that are mourning, suffering, experiencing rape, being rendered homeless, running and struggling for refuge, going through an excruciating sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Bold speeches are being made and solidarity statements are being uttered, such as “We all are France!” One wonders whether we would be concerned enough to declare, “We all are Afghanistan! We all are Iraq! We all are Syria! We all are Rohingyas!”
The frightening sense of vulnerability that the attack has induced is shared by every citizen and every government in the alliance of countries – European, American and Arab – part of a coalition formed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, in Barack Obama’s words.
Faced with such an international situation, people and their governments are concerned about security. Increased surveillance measures may be necessary. Greater official intrusiveness into the private lives of citizens through expanded data and internet access laws may come to be seen as unavoidable. But total security is an illusion.
There is also a real concern that in the days ahead, there will be those who will try to use the Parisian atrocity to divide society – already with a number of horrific tweets talking about killing all Muslims – and as an excuse to launch attacks against Muslims. Societies will lapse into polarization, recrimination and deepening division.
As the Guardian puts it, “In the end, however, more war is not the answer. If other European and Middle Eastern cities are to avoid the agony experienced by Paris, the international community must finally tackle head on the problem that lies at the heart of this rolling, expanding terrorist crisis – Syria. The anarchy inside Syria has allowed Isis, and other groups linked to al-Qaida, to seize territory and wealth. They feed on the chaos caused by the war. And yet half-baked international peace efforts have repeatedly floundered.”
Let super-powers also repent of their designs of acquiring the resources of other countries, of enhancing their respective political, economic, scientific-technological powers vis-à-vis other countries and alliances. It is such super-powers and their stooge power mongers that manoeuvre and pit one section of people against another in so many countries across the globe – and even one country against another – leading to communal violence, civil war, and acts of terrorism. Let these super-powers learn to love all human beings, transcending race, caste, religion, and culture. All should be given their due dignity and space. All of earth’s resources should be shared justly by all its inhabitants.
Let us be reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Indeed Jesus said, “All that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” Fanciful though it sounds, the cross (of love and justice) is mightier than the sword.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
National Council of Churches in India