Questions I, a UK citizen, have been asking myself in relation to the seemingly endless reports of brutal and violent attacks taking place in Europe 2016?
Is this cycle of violence really the news?
There are daily occurrences of violence, of people being killed, but what role does our media play in promoting the violence via the ‘click bait’ headline monetizing system? We live in a culture where our regulators more willing permit graphic violence than graphic lovemaking on our televisions. There were nearly two thousand road traffic deaths in the UK in 2013, nearly 400 people a day die from Cancer, it seems particularly callous to deal in statistical relativism, but since the attacks of 7/7 -3 terrorist murders have taken place in the UK. There seems little doubt that there will be more- but it’s important to keep perspective. The intention behind terrorism is to keep a population frightened, to keep their agenda on the front page of our news. What role am I performing by responding to these stimulu, by reading sensationalist headlines? By giving my attention to these stories?
Is this is a War of religions or a war of intelligence?
To be convinced that there is one way to interpret a source, to be told that a holy text should be literally deciphered and believe it. To Generalise, to Compartmentalise, to Stereotype- all base human responses- all fuelled by the current dumbed down rhetoric. To follow leaders who shout loudest, who chose to portion blame on others, who have lost sight of virtue… This is to reduce every argument, every discussion into ever smaller, shorter soundbites for the terrified, who consume them and retreat further and further from social, civil society surrendering responsibility to the mighty- the voices of tolerance and intelligence quieted, mocked and vilified.
What role does inequality play in all of this?
Does one only risk everything if one has nothing to risk? Old routes of access to jobs & homes aren’t working as they used to- there are no guarantees and a very tiny group of people control the very largest portion of fiscal wealth and are quietly going about securing it away. Is this correlation between poverty and extremism so hidden from view? Not just material poverty, but poverty of opportunity, poverty of expectation?
What is the strategic plan to deal with this?
As we surrender our privacy to more and more invasive access to our private lives, is that really the best way to secure ourselves? Are we going to have to live with the threat of violence now? A permanent state of vulnerability? Who benefits from this? The perpetrators of these crimes aren’t some terrifying other- they are born, raised and living as our neighbours, to fight them means to seek to rebuild our communities, to know who we are living with, to bond tighter and embrace our common humanity, to seek the isolated, the vulnerable, the weak and act to help. If the plan is greater division, then from that might only greater conflict arise?
In fact are the old political processes in a state of inexorable decline?
From Arab Spring, to Brexit, from Donald Trump to Jeremy Corbyn? Are our old systems failing us because they aren’t able to respond to the demands of our current economic and social instability? Is a new kind of politic emerging- and if it isn’t shouldn’t we be forming it?
And so, what am I doing to part of the solution?