As boomerangs go, violence has no competitors. It always comes back, it always finds a reaction to its action. It always has consequences that are unexpected, unwanted and unstoppable.
Who benefits the most from the violence unleashed by fundamentalists in Paris and Nigeria? Most probably the islamophobes, Le Pen’s Front Nationale and its European clones, without forgetting that Israel is going for elections, and this state of play benefits Netanyahu as the main representative of the politics of fearmongering; in the same way that he responded to Hamas’ missile shower from Gaza exactly as Hamas wished and expected: brutally, mindlessly, heartlessly, giving the antisemites a shot in the arm. But any shift in public opinion against him may well have been neutralised by the latest round of equally brutal, mindless and heartless attacks by extremists. He is inviting French Jews to move to Israel to be ‘safer’ (!?).
The Iraq war and its Middle East aftershocks, drones included, have been the best recruitment drive Al-Qaeda and other radical groups could ever wish for. So much for ‘making the world safer’ after the Twin Towers.
Violence dehumanises both the victim and the perpetrator. Violence makes of supposed ‘enemies’ strange bedfellows that feed and spur one another. All conflicts have a previous violent step used to justify the violence ahead. The vicious circle goes all the way back to the first humans that sought revenge for a real or perceived insult or injury. How could it possible change, be broken?
Active Nonviolence is the key to a different future
Those who commit unspeakable acts of violence are few. Those who do not are the majority. But it is a silent and not very active majority that gets mobilised by dramatic events and becomes quiet again afterwards. The capacity of Active Nonviolence to produce strong changes depends on a moment of inspiration, when a bright image of a better future gives impulse to well organised and well motivated networks, discussions, actions, hope.
Only sustained work in the direction of nonviolence can begin to neutralise the pervasive message from the system of images spewed from TV and the media in general telling us that violence is the only way to deal with conflict and oppression. Active nonviolence also finds its inspiration in the awareness that a deep spiritual drive, different from sectarian and violent interpretations of religion, has been present in every positive leap humanity has taken in the past and is capable of steering us today out of our present predicament.
There are no military solutions to today’s violence. Only people, organising themselves to extend a hand of friendship and solidarity to every person in the world can begin to reverse this dangerous situation. If we allow fear to dominate us, stripping away our capacity for compassion we shall continue the downward spiral of revenge and counter revenge.
Active Nonviolence leads to Reconciliation and a life of meaning. Many will be out of reach but millions are are risk to be ‘inspired’ by the most violent and vengeful ideologies, helped on the way by Hollywood et al. If we remain passive or silent we are being as self destructive as the violent ones.
Where do we start? We invite others to share with us in meditation about the Golden Rule, present in its many forms in every humanist moment in history: ‘when you treat others as you would have them treat you, you liberate yourself’. (1)
Then ‘what to do’ will become clear.
(1) (Humanise the Earth, Ch Xlll, www.silo.net)