Tag: terrorism

Becoming like them would be worse

What a week. On Tuesday, again I was crying, asking, what is happening across the world. Every day there seems to be more violence and anger and fear and it is felt all the more as it erupts in places we thought were safe and stable. The murder of the Priest Fr Jacques Hamel in a small town, St Etienne-du-Rouvray, outside Rouen, was particularly shocking for many reasons including the fact that it shows such acts of war can happen anywhere. Loss of life is equally terrible wherever and whenever it happens and I fully hear the call of those pointing out that atrocities like this go on every day potentially unreported in areas of the world suffering indescribably more than the continent I am privileged to live in. Certainly the spread of attacks in European cities in the last month shakes us by making us realise there is no longer any way we can pretend it is something distant from us or not affecting us.

Some of my family set off today on a holiday driving through France and Spain.  I will be more mindful of their safety and praying all the harder for them than usual. I can’t imagine what it is like living somewhere that has been directly affected. Understandably, there is a call to action. Churches in the UK have all been asked to review their security systems, for example.

One part of the response that I find very alarming is the segregating, defensive, even attacking language and stance that spread quickly in articles and comments on a couple of pages I follow. I can understand the roots of this response, for example, the desire to remove the threat of extremism and restore safety and silence those who preach hate. But very quickly we risk acting in hate ourselves. In the days following Saint Etienne, I read several alarming comments calling for us to take up the crusade against the Muslim world which we supposedly “left unfinished”, saying that anyone who raises their children in the Muslim faith condones these barbaric acts, saying that terrorism spreads from anger (okay, that part I can accept) which spreads from bad education about the source of the Arabic world’s problems and to stop it we have to educate the angry young men who may be recruited by extremists that the Western World is infinitely better than theirs and all their problems are of their own making.

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

(John 13 v 35)

Perhaps I’m naive but I was shocked. Of course I am not suggesting tolerance or negotiation with extremism / extremists. However, somehow, I don’t think asserting our superiority is going to calm their anger. I don’t think responding to extremists’ war with a “holy war” of our own is a way to bring peace. Labelling a whole religion or culture on the basis of the way an extremist group twists its teachings and seeking to obliterate it, is not a solution to bring peace. Quickly we become anger and we speak in hate. We become like the aggressors that we fear.

I prefer Fr Dominic LeBrun, Archbishop of Rouen’s, response when he was leaving the World Youth Day pilgrimage in Poland to return to France the day after the attack on Fr Jacques. “I cry out to God with all men of goodwill… The Catholic Church has no arms than prayer and fraternity among men. I will leave behind here hundreds of young people who are the future of true humanity. I ask them not to give up in the face of such violence and to become apostles for a civilisation of love.”

Becoming apostles for a civilisation of love does not mean a saccharine sweet front or a return to Flower Power (!) but a genuine and often painful call to continue through pain, instability, suffering, hate and poverty responding in love – still allowing ourselves to dare to feel things other than anger and coldness that might protect our hearts, allowing ourselves to hope, allowing ourselves to believe somehow that people are foremost created for good, including ourselves.

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This applies on an intimate scale too. I apply it to my recovery from what I experienced at the hands of my abuser. That way I do not become what she wanted me to become and do not become like her.

If I give up, stop seeking the good in the little things of every day, I become isolated, as she desired. If I believe the voices, which pleases them – and pleased her – then I remain paralysed and in her control. If I shut myself away and do not speak because I know the torment that will go on in my head afterwards because of her twisted words and threats so firmly internalised, her world continues to surround me. If I allow anger to harden my heart then numb me; if I do not dare learn to let anyone love me; if I do not dare to allow my feelings and needs without punishing myself, then she wins.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

(Proverbs 31 v 25)

If I keep looking out and up, I learn to be thankful for a world which teaches us constantly more about our loving Creator. If I counter the voices with God’s Word of truth and life, I become like Him. If I reach out with love wherever I see someone suffering or in need, I forget my own, and good experiences multiply and become more wonderful and more vivid than the fears. If I believe the Lord made us in His image and “clothes with strength and dignity”*, I believe first in my capacity for good and slowly may learn that I am not the evil that she so well convinced me that I am. In all I do, Lord, may “my deeds publicly declare Your praise”*.

Ginny xxx

*Proverbs 31 vs 25 and 31.

 

PS – for fellow NCIS fans…this episode sprang to mind…

becoming like him would be worse

Ziva: This country holds itself to a higher standard. It is a nation of laws which are to be followed not only when it is convenient or easy. I have seen firsthand what happens when convenience wins out.

Tony: You never talk about it.

Ziva: What is there to talk about?

Tony: [Long pause] Come on, Ziva.

Ziva: What Saleem did was bad enough. Becoming like him would be worse.

From NCIS Season 7 – “Masquerade”

PPS: NCIS property of Channel 5 and CBS; directed by Donald Bellisario and produced by Don McGill. Image – Cote de Pablo as Ziva (not from Masquerade because I couldn’t find a suitable appropriate one from Masquerade).

 

As long as we have HOPE

As long as we have HOPE

katniss prim hands

“Fear does not work as long as they have hope, and Katniss Everdeen is giving them hope.” – President Snow, in The Hunger Games – Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Of all possible characters in the Hunger Games trilogy, I did not expect to be quoting President Snow! However, I think Suzanne Collins has voiced a truth here that we can hold on to.

prim volunteer hunger games

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. I’m learning this. I’ve been thinking on it for a few days and it’s a message particularly for today. There has been another terrorist attack in Europe, a lorry driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice in France, killing over 80 people. Waking up to learn this, I felt fear, grief, sadness, helplessness, unable to know what to do, seeing nothing I can do to make the hurt and tragedy better for everyone suffering in this. I can’t imagine how afraid everyone in Nice is.

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. Watching the news there seem to be fewer safe places, nowhere out of reach of the hurt and damage that comes from anger, terrorism and extremism. It comes closer to home both in these violent acts and in the people fleeing even further violence as refugees.

Terrorism is designed to take away hope. I cannot do anything to directly practically change what happened in Nice, or at the Bataclan, or Baghdad, or Turkey. But – as long as we have hope. Hope can start very small and very close to home. I can choose to carry out every little action, with care and attention and love. I can choose thankfulness in my day to day life. I can choose to replace an angry response with a questioning one or a loving one. I can’t get back the lives the terrorists have taken. I can kneel and pray with the grieving. Nothing takes away the suffering for those who have lost lives and lost loved ones, but in choosing to place HOPE in God, in love, in goodness, in every moment being an opportunity for us to be thankful and love, I can stop the terrorists also taking over my heart with the fear and hurt and hate they spread. Every time such frightening and destructive things happen, I can try to be a little more conscious of my choice to hold onto hope and my choice to love others around me. And I have to say – Tammi Kale, you inspired me to take this approach in a comment you left on one of my earlier posts. So a big big THANK YOU to you Tammi.

The same applies to the path of recovering from the fear placed in me by my abuser.  What has happened is terrible and letting her have my heart would be worse – by me becoming fear, hurt, rage, or even cold and numb and unable to bring any fruit. This will be a very long journey, I know, because her grip on my heart and my memories is still very great. Strongest is the deeply planted doubt that it was my fault, that nobody would ever believe a child could be so bad but it was all because of me really, and the doubt that pulls me apart when I dare to speak and the voices that taunt me and scream at me and tell me I’m a fake and a liar and ugly and disgusting. I couldn’t have any hope when I started my treatment. I really needed someone to hold it for me. Gradually, I am learning to hold onto hope for myself. I am learning that I can act in love. I am learning that carrying hurt, pain, need, crying, does not make me evil. I am learning that admitting these feelings does not make me dangerous. I am learning that I am not the feelings.

I am learning to believe in a God who is not repulsed or driven away by darkness and failure. My God says the night is just the same as day to Him. My God says He created me – and you – in His image. His image, not evil, is at the centre of my poor heart, although it is small and hurting and I feel very weak. He has placed us here to become more and more like Him, more closely united to Him, and to be His hands to carry His merciful love in this hurting world. In order to do this, I must learn to be loved, first. And it dawned on me that perhaps I do not know how to be loved because the fear planted by my abuser has taken over so much of my heart. This is going to be a long road, as I said. Being formed into our loving God’s image, and learning to be loved, gives a hope that cannot be taken away. Learning to be loved takes away fear.

katniss prim Hope catching fire

Prim – Since the last games, something is different, I can see it.

Katniss – What can you see?

Prim – Hope.

– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie)

[Stills of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Willow Shields (Prim) from The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; property of Suzanne Collins / Lionsgate Entertainment. Images sourced from fanpop.com and thehungergames.wikia.com]