A couple of weeks ago 50 people were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand and countless others were injured.
Who killed these people? Was it the act of a solitary gunman?
It was not. If it were, it would not be so difficult to put a stop to this. This was the work of many more people. This was the act of gunmen and their leaders. This was the act of governments and other leaders. This was the work of the countless people who use their words (some carelessly, others with a lot of care and attention to detail) to feed sentiments of fear, hatred and division.
Words shape thoughts and thoughts shape reality. That is why it is very important to be careful of the words we use. That is why it has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. And if the pen is mightier than the sword, words in today´s media with their outreach are mightier than bombs.
This is why I think that using words such as “attack on Muslims”, “fed by Islamophobia”, “white nationalism kills” do harm, not good. Of course, the same goes for others such as “attack on Christianity”, “Muslim terrorists”, etc. These words build the walls of division. They are creating enemies by building boundaries. They are feeding tomorrow´s terrorist act — whether it is big or small, whether it leads to murder, to suicide or to lesser physical, mental and/or emotional harm.
It is not Islam, not Christianity, nor any other religion which I know of, which kills. It is not the colour of the skin which kills. Terrorism kills. And terrorism is not the product of religions or colours. It is the product of division, fear and hatred. If we declare a war on terrorism, it should be declared on all types of terrorism. And as Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The antidotes to acts of terror are not preaching against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian sentiments, better immigration policies, better laws, etc. They only create more of the above. The antidote is choosing peace — in our own hearts first and then sowing it in that of others through our words and actions. Choosing love, always. Choosing unity.
If you — especially if you are a leader or an influencer — have used words which create fear, hatred or division, do not offer your thoughts and prayers after a terrorist act such as this. Staying silent would be much better. If you feel you should speak — and perhaps you should — only do so if you first apologise for the words you had said before and promise (while meaning it) to not do it again.
Was the attack on the mosques a success or failure? From my point of view if the reaction to that attack (or any other attack) is compassion and love, then it would have been a “success”. The victims would have died (and/or were harmed) for a cause. If the reaction is that of more hatred and division then it would have been a failure — and the deaths and destruction in vain. From terrorists´ viewpoint (“Christian”, “Muslim”, and whatever other title they might choose for themselves) it would have been a resounding success.
Don´t let terrorists win. Choose love.
My heart aches for the victims, their families and those close to them. My heart aches as much to see the hatred and fear evident from comments coming from all over the world, Muslim or otherwise. This is what terrorism is all about. It kills, yes, but it also feeds fear and hatred. Don´t let the work of this latest terrorist to catch the world´s attention (because others are going unnoticed) keep growing with your comments.
If we choose love, there would be no more senseless deaths. There would be no more hatred.
Peace to you, brothers and sisters from all over the World.
“The place to improve the world is first in one´s own heart and head and hands.” — Robert M. Pirsig