Alexander Swift looks at the connection between poverty, desperation and terrorism in Western society.
SOLIDARITY SEEMS to be the buzzword of the moment. And who better to unite the Western world than the French — the nation we all love, under siege by those we have been instructed to hate.
Of all the incidents that occurred over the weeks hitherto, the football match was the most intriguing.
To my knowledge, Francois Hollande was escorted by his special forces out of the stadium, moments after the first explosions, while almost one hundred thousand pundits sat vulnerable in what could have easily become a cauldron of death.
Their leader, with his head down and tail between his legs and his people stunned and exposed, metres away from the murderous events.
Acts of violence and death remind us all of our mortality and our fragile position on the Earth. We perceive threats at first with anger, then with fear and finally with hatred. This is typical of any of us. It is what happens next that matters. The overwhelming majority will unite, hold hands and chant songs of liberty — others will dwell, agitate and demand vengeance.
Those who hold the keys will, of course, make decisions for the "good" of mankind and possibly, kill thousands of innocent people in the process. How many starving women and children died in an attempt to kill Jihadi John? Is he even dead? What we don’t know could end a famine; what we do know is prescribed and detailed to the limits of our own ignorance.
For as long as there have been people, there has been murder. Those who do not accept murder and death as a part of life, live with the distorted vision that only myopia can provide. While I agree that evil-doers should be incarcerated or even eradicated, desperation, poverty and limited opportunity have a funny way of changing peoples' reasoning. Typing away, surrounded by my material goods, I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to have been raised with no opportunity. With no hope. If you starve a man of hope, he will hunt.
Orwellian theory suggests that the person who has fallen from affluence into poverty should not be pitied. We should, instead, sympathise with the person living in poverty, working unreasonable hours for unacceptable pay in unfathomable conditions or losing their job. Boredom is the burden of this individual, and they will fill their days desperately looking for ways to feed their families and when all "legitimate" options are exhausted, their vision will skew.
Of course, the predators lay in the wake. Much akin to those in our society who pray on the vulnerable, terrorist organisations operate in the same vein. While I understand the threat and angst that comes from a Western perspective, much of it translates to ignorance and naivety. History shows that attacking a terrorist threat with munitions and counter-operatives will result in disastrous consequences. Think Hitler, Pol Pot, Milošević even now Assad — by no means are there any success stories to come from attacking these terrorist organisations.
The irony in all this is rich. In Western culture, when the system is failing, we go straight to the top — Tony Abbott will back me up here. However, when the system in failing in the East, we start at the bottom, killing the peasants who have been tormented and chastised into picking up guns. Whilst the regime expands through spread hatred, it seems as if it is only a means of population control in impoverished countries. Shameless leaders shake hands and sign legislation in the blood of their people. They display confidence in their abilities — having never stepped barefoot into poverty, having never starved and having never had to beg for anything.
Class systems that were forged long before Jesus was said to be playing football for Nazareth Football Club, have changed and economies have grown, peaked and demised. Those caught at the bottom – the peasants – accept their fate and continue to work for their bread. However, it is all a distraction. A deterrent from reality, a place to put one’s head in the sand. Their fate, over which they have no control, is determined by forces they may never meet, see or even know. Hegemonic or not, this is evident and always has been the way.
These forces and those class systems, not only create tensions and perpetrate angry dispositions but they evolve to divide, fuel fear and generate hatred between differing groups at the bottom. Those who hate, cannot be blamed and those who blame, cannot be hated. For their predetermined ideals and anxieties are written and broadcasted whilst they eat their evening bread.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License