A sombre murkiness hovered in my train carriage yesterday morning; opposite me sat a young Muslim girl with downcast eyes & beside her, a woman clutching a Metro newspaper; its contextual accuracy so ambiguous I didn’t bother to grab a copy. The woman with the paper huffed and moved to the seat beside me, the front page of her paper imaging French fighter jets en route to Syria. How many innocent people will continue to be massacred at the hands of a merciless war? I thought to myself, as the woman tutted and threw her paper to the floor. I felt an unspoken tension which whispered prejudice and fear, with myself – edgy and paranoid – wishing to give some reassurance to the silent girl before me.
Who can we rely on to educate us? I remember being taught about the Holocaust in school and it was all numbers and figures – I felt nothing. Nobody dared to communicate the true devastation of war, the horrors of ethnic cleansing, the helplessness of a brutal occupation. Nobody explained innocent citizens, just like you and me, have been endlessly terrorised and murdered for reasons that are beyond comprehension.
I don’t believe since then the state of the world has evolved, it’s falling apart, mostly in corners where we don’t have to look. At least now, when Western land is targeted, great coverage is received and suddenly, the world is alerted to empathy and outrage: we are the chosen ones. Chosen, in the sense that we are overfed, overstocked, pacified and left to consume a range of mere “things”. We are the true SIMS, living in a robotic society and playing dutiful roles; we’ve “evolved” and therefore have no clue when it comes to instinctive survival. We’ve turned our backs on natural living and have been placed into a society which says “You are more important than those who born into poverty and war, enjoy it”. We continue with our busy lives, dreaming about how to make more of ourselves and forgetting the ones who dream of an escape.
I am the product of Western vulnerability and realize that my only true “grief” lies in the palms of self-discovery and learning. I am privileged and thus far in life my problems have been either solvable or avoidable: “Oh, I need to lose weight”, “I need more money”, “I’m so afraid of death – how do I avoid it?” I wonder, if I had to wake up in the morning to an empty fridge, the sound of bombs, a falling ceiling or worse, the eye of a pistol staring into my forehead – would I have the time to worry about trivialities?
As mankind we’ve let ourselves down; every person in a position of power has acted as a war puppet, enabling injustice and destruction; spinning us a web of lies. How have we allowed ourselves to get to a place where money rules everything? Money, a self-made piece of flimsy fucking paper, dictates a humans honor and intentions. If only we could turn our backs on such a way of living, escape to an place where we could fend for ourselves, no dictatorship, no corrupt government and just start all over again.
A girl can dream right.
We’ve developed a very unhealthy attachment to things and as a result we question very little. We go with the motions, coveting possessions; a means to an end in keeping us quiet and controlled. How can I continue with my usual desires? To wish for nothing more than to enjoy life, to eat the good food, drink the good wine and love the right people. How can I go on with the knowledge that the world is falling apart? What are my options? Why is our government happy investing murder weapons and death machines when there are countries suffering from malnutrition, starvation and scarcity? How can we fight with our fists when our opponents fire bullets?
I discuss such topics with loved ones often and so why only now, have I decided to write about my anger towards the world? The ugly truth is, it’s easy to give empathetic sighs from a distance, knowing bits and pieces but keeping research to a minimum in order to avoid a nervous breakdown. I could sit here and list countless countries enduring devastation but I’m not sure what impact it would have.
Prior to the 13/15 Paris attack, I’ve felt more comfortable seeing life as a dramatic film. I’ve been ignited but stayed passive. I’ve kept silent and wanted nothing more than to remain in a bubble protecting only myself and my loved ones. Collectively, we have settled without even figuring what it is that we desire. How do WE want to live? How are WE going to help? Are we happy to pay this much rent? Are we happy working for industrial companies? Of course we are, so long as we have enough money to continue being a culture of consumption; comfortable and with a fine roof over our heads.
The Paris attacks have merely reminded us that we are not invincible; we can try to segregate ourselves from the real dangers of the world but it’s only a matter of time before the glass shatters. I’ve been clinging on to the hope that there might be something more godly out there, but current times have pushed me to the doorstep of atheism.
I write this article for those who dream of a better world, for my Muslim friends who have offered me nothing but friendship and hospitality over the years; who are now being racially branded as “terrorists” despite only ever demonstrating peace. We need to stamp out the ignorance and unite because things aren’t going to improve unless we make a collective change. Let us keep seeking out the fairness in the world, questioning everything, becoming bolder, pursuing knowledge and starting to speak up.