In the wake of recent events in Lebanon, France, and Kenya I have been thinking about U2’s lyric, “There is no them, only us”. At first consideration this might seem like a naïve statement but actually it is not. The fact is that there is only one species of human being. Everything that divides us is illusionary. Colour and race are irrelevant, they do not stop one human from successfully breeding with another human and fulfilling the imperative of life, the continuance of the species.
The things that actually do appear to divide us are immaterial constructs that we, as a collective, have devised, religion, wealth and poverty, nationality, class, language, philosophy. All these things have contributed to creating the world in which we live in today and all these things can be changed if we wish them to be. It seems that we lack the will, however.
As a species we continue to wallow in ignorance and the herd mentality. People choose not to think for themselves and others choose to exploit that apathy and self-imposed ignorance. Some of these people harbour only evil thoughts that massage their egos. Unopposed they pervert religious teachings to their own ends and lead others into paths of murder and destruction that those same religious beliefs supposedly stand against.
In the pursuit of wealth we have created a powerful few who leave a helpless many suffering in poverty. These have nothing to lose and some turn to the extremism of the terrorism because that, at least to their own minds, offers them something. This is not justification for atrocity, it is just one of many reason why it still exists in this supposed civilised world of ours.
It might be that the combined military power of the West will overcome IS and other such extremist organisations but the sadly that will not be the end of the matter. Bombs will not remove the causes that give rise to terrorism as surely as the bombs unleashed by the terrorists will not achieve the downfall of the societies that they are attacking. The War of Terrorism has been fought too literally and it has indeed proved to be a hydra. If cutting the head off the monster only gives rise to two more heads then perhaps we should look at cutting off the true source sustenance to the terrorists – people willing to fight their cause even when it is against everything that they once believed in?
There is no them unless we make of other people a ‘them’ and once we have done that we have injured ourselves. We only bomb and shoot ourselves. There is only us and we kill ourselves every day.
After some one million years on this planet the human species has yet to evolve to a level where it can love without fear. We remain rooted in fear of each other. Despite our technological advances, our philosophical progress, our intellectualism, we are shackled by fear of another person who seems somewhat different to us. You can see this in the public display of grief in the West that identified France and yet ignored Lebanon and Kenya, two countries that suffered similar terrorist atrocities. The victims who have died to terrorism acts committed all over the world share one common quality, they are all the same as us, none where ever a them!