Saturday, 3 June 2017

Watching Terror in London From Afar: Some Raw Thoughts...







The news coming from London of the terror attacks is awful. News of terror always is…

It brought some thoughts to my mind…

I remember the first time I met a terrorist. A former paramilitary in Northern Ireland. A murderer. 

I remember how odd it felt to sit at a table with someone and know for sure that this person had killed someone.

He had come out the other side and was working for peace and reconciliation...

I remember the first time I met a victim of terrorism. She had watched her husband shot to death in front of her.

She had come out the other side and had forgiven, even reached out and tried to meet the killer.

It seemed like a superhuman act for such a tiny wee woman...

I remember the first time I met a victim of genocide. In Rwanda. 

Then I met dozens.

I don't share their stories; I don't even know how. The Rwandan genocide was so savage, so cruel; I have advanced degrees in conflict and social reconciliation and even I don’t know how to talk about it.

Many of them had come out the other side…

I remember being in Israel and occupied Palestine, meeting people who’d had their children killed, their homes destroyed, their property confiscated…

It wasn’t easy for any of them, Israelis or Palestinians. The Israelis were often marginalized voices in a country run by the most militaristic and unreasonable elements; the Palestinians were still living under occupation, many of the injustices they sought to highlight and overcome peacefully simply ongoing…

Many of them had come out the other side, and were working for a just and negotiated settlement. 

I mention these people just to remind myself- and all of us- that there is the possibility of coming out the other side.

It’s possible to do the right thing, the just thing, the creative thing, the positive thing In the face of horror.

We need to remember that, because when incidents like this occur, we will be inundated by people who will insist that we must do the violent thing, the unjust thing, the narrow-minded thing, the negative thing.

They will be loud. They will be powerful. They’ll be attractive, forceful, and insistent that there’s no other alternative…

… and they’ll be wrong.

Be strong. Be kind. Be just. Be courageous.


Hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side…

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Jon, we need to keep things in perspective. In N Ireland, we've been there, it brings it all back. But most of us survived, if somewhat traumatised. My daughter lives in London, though in SF at present with work. It makes me feel sick though, why people do this.

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