The world is white hot and seething. You must feel it too. There is an ugly, throbbing feeling of discontent and confusion in my belly and I need someone else to tell me they feel it too. I look around and I see rage and fear and hopelessness and nobody knows what to do with themselves.
Brexit, Trump, Pulse Orlando, Macron vs Le Pen, the UK General Election, Chechnya, Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Borough Market all seem to me like the far flung symptoms of discontent and upheaval. Its fucking horrible. Turning on the news simply presents me with more reasons to doubt the human condition, checking my social media I’m sure to find a slew of misguided and hateful opinions in response to any or all of the current socio-political events that are happening across the globe.
I would like a moment of peace, calm, clarity, and critical thinking. One of the most beautiful traits of humanity is passion, but it is also our weakness. We hurt when our families do, we hurt when the world does. It is too easy to allow our grief and pain to manifest itself as rage, through an angry Facebook status, to an insult slung across the street to someone you feel responsible, to another punch, another gunshot, another life lost. The entirety of human civilisation is just two apes locked in a fight to the death, throwing retaliatory punch after retaliatory punch. We need to break this cycle of rage, because it is all too easy to exploit.
In the UK, Theresa May is already calling for the UK to toughen up on terrorism, to get more armed police on the streets and increase the power of her Snooper’s Charter, despite the fact that having already mined our data for years hasn’t stopped the current string of terror attacks.
My muslim housemate was put on the government’s PREVENT anti-radicalisation scheme, when he is about as close to Islamic extremism as my grandma is, and Green Party candidate Jenny Jones was labelled a domestic extremist by our own government under their definition of terrorism.
I absolutely do not feel more secure in a climate where our civil liberties are slashed at under the guise of my protection. I don’t feel safer when people are calling for shoot-first ask questions later, I don’t feel safer when people are crowing for the death penalty, I don’t feel safer with nuclear weapons being touted as a solution to anything, I don’t feel safer when people say Islam is a cancer that needs to be removed, I don’t feel safer when the U.S. drops internationally illegal white phosphorous on a hospital in Mosul, I don’t feel safer when our own government are selling arms to Saudi Arabia, who fund ISIS.
I can already feel the rolling eyes of sceptics. Talking doesn’t help, we can’t just send some lentil munching diplomats to talk it over with extremists. But come on, we’ve been on this planet for millions of years and ‘kill the bad ones’ doesn’t seem to have been an effective way to stop bad people doing bad things. In the short term, gunning down a terrorist protects the innocent lives on our streets, but it does not remedy the ideology that drives these people, and the violence will continue everywhere around the planet. Misery is a man-made thing, fear, greed and hate are its engine. And that engine has continued to be fed throughout history, because there are always agents of greed and division who will make profit from your hatred and prejudice.
We need to think. We need to sit in our emotions together and sift through them, we need to grieve together, we need to talk to one another and engage with every problem on this planet critically. We need to stop fostering hatred, and start nurturing kindness, as that is when we see the strength and beauty of the human condition shine brightest. I am not a scientist or a politician, and there are many people on this planet smarter than me who can actually implement these ideas, but for now I ask you to consider compassion and empathy, because every word of abuse you hurl, every punch you throw, every gunshot you fire will circle around to you, to your family, to your neighbourhood, to this Earth. Let’s try to be kinder.