I heard about Paris and I was sickened. I searched for information and I was sickened. Hours passed and social media went into overdrive. Everyone’s thoughts on Paris were everywhere and like everyone else I had a few of my own.
Initially my thoughts were with the mothers whose sons and daughters would never come home. Then I thought of the sons and daughters whose mothers would not come home. Finally I wondered at those who dreamed up the plan who were sons and daughters.
And I wondered why?
Just as I did one beautiful sunny Saturday in August when I went to visit my mother and heard of the Omagh bombing. Someone’s son, in the name of my country, had made a bomb. Someones son, had left that bomb in the centre of Omagh in Northern Ireland, on it’s busiest day of the week and that bomb exploded killing twenty nine innocent shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant with twins.
Today as I watched so many vent their anger online, I wondered what was the difference in the mind of those who carried out the attack in Paris and those who had killed civilians here in this country in the name of freedom and religion. It is convenient for us to believe that Islamic extremists are alien beings to us but I say, take away the ‘Islamic’ and you are left with extremists. Therein lies the similarity. People who are blinded by what ever cause and filled with righteousness and hate.
For most of my life I believed there could be no end to the ‘Troubles’ and had begun to accept the killings and bombings as a part and parcel of Northern Ireland. I was wrong and thankfully my children have grown up for the most part not knowing anything but peace.
I hope in time I am also wrong and the seeming impossible task of controlling ISIS is achieved. If you think that is impossible just look here and see how many died in this small country of ours as recently as the 1990s and the number of dreadful atrocities which were carried out on such a regular basis. Who would have imagined we could ever live together peacefully? But we do.
Never lose hope.
photo credit: At The Darkest Point via photopin (license)
10 thoughts on “Can we ever overcome terrorism?”
I have clear memories of the bombings in Manchester and Warrington, and the shock and outrage at the time. But although that was close to home I never questioned the friendship of the Irish (North and Republic) people I knew: the IRA were like some alien entity with no connection to my personal experience of the Irish. And it’s the same with ISIS and al Qaeda: they are unconnected in my mind to the Muslim people I know and am friends with.
It’s important to remember that for all the hurt they cause extremists are small minorities and if, as a people, we can show that we don’t support their aims or methods they can become sidelined. Perhaps still a threat to some degree, but not something to infect our every day with fear.
I was conscious of the atrocities visited in the uk also when I wrote this. As a young teenager we were very aware of how unpopular we were when I traveled with the Irish swim team after the Birmingham bombings. I am glad you did not tar us Irish with the same brush just as I don’t tar all Muslims.
I was thinking last night how there’s very little difference between the terrorists of the Troubles and what happened yesterday, but what I hadn’t remembered is that the former did come to an end, and that gives some hope.
I think a lot of us needed to read this today. We need to hang on to the hope for peace.
Hi Tric, my mind has been working like yours.
It certainly did seem that the nightmare of The Troubles with all the killings could never end. I know it took a long time and a huge amount of determination and hard, hard negotiations but the peace process certainly highlights how so much is in the hearts, minds and creative spirit of people. This is NOT a natural disaster, rather a social one which can be resolved if the will is there.
I too have made the connection in my mind between the IRA, Al Qaeda, ISIS and whatever the name may be. We need to find a way to stop this madness continuing. I don’t know how but stopping them propagating their hate-filled beliefs to younger generations has to feature somewhere…..
I remember a time when the only news stories I ever saw about Northern Ireland involved terrorist atrocities. I must admit that I thought the problems there were intractable. I’m delighted that I was proven so completely and utterly wrong. Achieving peace in the face extremism is never easy, but there is no real option but to try. The case of Northern Ireland shows that sometimes the effort really can pay off.
We need the hope Tric.
I was in Omagh. We ran into the chief of security after the court house closed down. He took us inside and gave us a full tour, telling us the story. He took us back outside and pointed down the hill to the oblesk. The spot where the bomb went off. We went to it, and to the park, the memorial. I couldn’t get it. I couldn’t understand the purpose of a bomb, to kill people, men, women, children. What does it do? It proves nothing. It gets nothing.
I will never understand this.
While hope is generally not one of my stronger virtues, I do have hope in this. The world has to draw together more and more for humanity’s sake and for the planet’s. I have been so impressed with Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, which is written not just for Catholics but for all people to protect and cherish not just the environment but all people, especially the most vulnerable.The task is enormous and can only be accomplished together.
yes, never lose hope.