Over the past weeks and months, you’ll have undoubtedly heard countless messages about spreading love even in the darkest, most hate-filled of times. You’ll have seen beautiful outpourings of love and support in an attempt to cancel out the hate that has touched so many people’s lives recently. You’ll have heard the phrase “love conquers hate” enough times for it to have become a mantra.
But what if your first reaction to an act of terror isn’t love?
What if the first thing you feel is hatred? Because you’re hurting, and you’re scared, and you’re angry that something so senseless has happened? You definitely wouldn’t be the only one. As we all recoil and attempt to deal with the world around us, we oscillate through a variety of difficult emotions and naturally look for somewhere to lay blame, for somewhere to channel those feelings that we need to vent. And that’s okay.
It’s what we do with these emotions that’s important.
Letting ourselves descend into blind hatred isn’t okay. If, in our desperate desire to channel our anger, we willfully take on harmful rhetoric about immigration and deportation, we become everything we’re trying to fight against. If, because of our frantic need to allocate blame, we begin to foster separation and starting talking in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’, we risk ever achieving a united and peaceful community.
So, instead of choosing to hate an entire group of people because of what you believe about them, channel your anger into something productive. Get angry about the fact that most of the atrocities that have ever occurred in the world have happened because of governments; the people who represent ‘us’, who are like ‘us’, who are ‘us’. Be angry that Britain and the USA continue to provide arms to the Middle East and continue to be allies with countries who fund, and therefore, facilitate terrorism. Rather than signing petitions calling for deportation of certain groups or damaging mosques, let’s be angry about the fact that we’re by no means the only country having our families and loved ones stolen from us as rich and powerful governments continue to bomb fellow humans in the ‘war on terror’. Instead of assigning superiority to cultures and religions that are ‘ours’ to the detriment of those we see as ‘other’, let’s get angry about the fact that we are restricting the freedom of these ‘others’ to the point where they feel that the only answer is the warped ideology they subscribe to.
Even closer to home, let’s acknowledge the fact that these terrorists are sometimes British people who feel so utterly ostracised and disenfranchised that violence is their only hope. Let’s be angry about the fact that nobody is demarcating all white folks after a white terrorist murdered Jo Cox and that only ‘others’ are subject to such vitriol. Let’s be angry about the fact that there’s barely any funding left for mental health and that young boys and men are the least likely to access any of this support (just the demographic who are most likely to engage in this type of violence).
There are questions to be answered and there is anger to be felt. But those questions should not be asked of Islam, and that anger should not be directed towards our friends and neighbours. Those questions should be answered by the people who are allowing this endless cycle of war and violence to continue because it makes money and it serves political agendas.
The grief you feel after an event like this is the same grief felt by the families in Syria who are losing their loved ones too. It is the same grief being felt by the families in Yemen who are being killed with arms funded by us. Their pain is valid and their pain can, too, spill over into dangerous rhetoric that makes those who have nothing else but hate feel like they want to kill those who they consider to be at fault. When we feel like our security is being impinged and that we want to retaliate, know that those fears and desires are also being shared by those whose security we are impinging. It’s a cycle that gets us nowhere.
Love is the only thing that will ultimately break this cycle. Taking a moment to understand our fellow humans and live our lives with compassion, even down to the smallest detail, is how we will start to understand that we’re all the same. We can acknowledge together that the damaged souls who take it upon themselves to carry out heinous crimes are just one part of the story and that those souls are the product of a political agenda that absolutely must be changed.
So be angry, raise your voices, and share your tears. Your hurt is valid and important and can be used for greatness. But fueling yourself with hate only makes you part of the agenda that the powerful so desperately rely on us to buy into. A quest for retribution, on all sides, is what keeps us marching towards war and keeps us all singing the wrong tune.
Harness your hurt and anger and use it to work towards love.
Want more From The Fringe? Good news! You can follow me here:
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest