By now I am sure you know about Paris, a city I love, being attacked. It’s awful, it truly is. But already all I am hearing is “let’s retaliate“. How about no?
If we retaliate we are also terrorists, we need to stop fighting. I am not racist or religionist (is that a word?) but the last few weeks I’ve been trying extra hard to be nice to minorities. The kind of people tabloids would have you thinking want to kill us all. Do you know what? The lady who runs in a hijab in the fields behind my home, she’s just a mum that cares about her fitness. She has not got an explosive vest on under the lycra, I said “hello, how are you doing” and she didn’t say anything about my short skirt or that I was wearing a poppy. That’s because Muslims are not the enemy. They are just people, like you or me.
I like (or indeed dislike) people based on their personalities not their skin colour, religion or country of birth. Social media since the Paris attacks has largely been pray for Paris or kill all Muslims. Terrorism is not a religion!
Hating people who look different because a few of them are insane psychopaths who think murder is “God’s way” is mental.
Right now I am at a world class rugby venue, ready for a game against an Italian team. This makes it a target, it’s televised, it’s at one of England’s traditional rugby clubs. They might be here for charity, but there are around 50 uniformed members of the forces here, mainly the army in pale camouflage.
For the first time at a home match I was searched, my seven year old son at my side. I told him “please let any of our stewards check your pockets”, they are just want to keep us safe. They wouldn’t touch him obviously, but I need him to know they aren’t accusing us, they are randomly checking people. Even us. We are very English, and Jen was born quarter of a mile away from here. The stewards know I’m not a threat and neither is Jen. He came here as a baby in my tummy, he’s been coming here since a month old, and we will keep coming back even if attacks happen at other sporting venues, like Stade de France.
I still use the tube, and sit next to young men with rucksacks. I still live, and I still won’t hold all Muslims responsible. I remember very well how the local mosque helped during the floods, gave out food and water. Food and water paid for by donations from the Muslims who attend that mosque. Does this sound like an uncaring group of people?
I am an atheist, and it’s as much my right to disbelieve as it’s anyone else’s right to choose to believe. Jews, Sikh, Muslim or anything else. People are people, and most people just want to live in peace.
Sadly I feel strongly we are near a third world war. Terrorist attacks have successfully started the whole divide and conquer thing. Why let it be us versus them?
I just want peace. I can’t do a thing about extremists, I can’t fix that, but I can act human. We can all act more human.
And I will carry on going out, and living. And I’d say the same if I lived in Paris or London…. because I am a Londoner by birth. I’d like to say I’m not afraid, but I am. I want my kids (and everyone else) to live in peace and not be afraid.