There is no getting away from the fact that the terrorism act of 9/11/2001 was a game changer. As the twin towers of the World Trade Centre fell on September 9th, so too did our illusions of world peace.
The world as we knew it was gone; there was a new world order. Wranglings that were previously sealed behind some of the most powerful doors in the world spilled most traumatically into our daily lives.
Families were torn apart; and not just those that were directly involved at the scene. Inter-faith marriages struggled. People living in Muslim countries were suddenly in fear of their lives. Muslims living in the West were also unsafe. We took our shoes off at airports. Fluids suddenly became suspicious substances. Even our children’s friends – those who wore hijabs or taqiyahs and were previously always welcome in our homes for after-school chips and fish fingers – were now persona non grata, and we could not tell our children why. The world changed irrevocably, and it did so for the worse.
There is very little I can say about that awful day that has not already been said in the last fifteen years. Except to say that evil spread. Evil spread in unimaginable ways. Al Qaeda, the threat we thought was indefatigable was defeated and gave birth to the monster that is ISIS. Saddam Hussein was killed as was Osama Bin Laden. And now our enemies are faceless and ever more sinister.
Closer to home, we have our own strife too. Boko Haram decimated the population in northern Nigeria. Those who are alive are hungry and ill. Polio resurfaced when we thought we had eradicated it because healthcare professionals could not get to parts of the country as a result of conflict. The whole world has gone to hell on a hand basket and no mistake.
Be The Peace You Want To See
There is no doubt about it, some battles require heavy artillery. We don’t all have scud missiles or AK-47s and we are not all trained in the art of mortal combat. But not everything needs to escalate to the point or war.
The Bible says “A soft answer turneth away wrath”. And now that you guys finally succeeded in getting me to quote scripture, I will say this: do you flare up when someone cuts in front of you in traffic? Are you the person who undermines people in public because you don’t like what they say or their values? What about religious, tribal or gender intolerance? Do you get into a fender bender with a woman and ask her to call her husband because you cannot exchange words with a woman when you “Have her type at home”? Or perhaps you make inappropriate comments about her marital status or his manhood because they annoyed you? Remember that warfare is merely anger and blame that has found sympathisers and financial backing.
And what about proactively averting violence and injustice? You sit in your friend’s house while she mercilessly beats a house help for something trivial. You stand by and watch your guy berate his gate man, a man twice his age, and sack him over a misdemeanour. Your work mates make tribal, racial or misogynistic jokes and you’re not comfortable with them, but you laugh anyway because nobody wants to be “that guy”.
Be the peace you want to see. Make a difference. Be the difference.
And may the souls of the dearly departed forever rest in peace.
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