I don’t want to give it any more publicity than it already has, but I would like to address a certain newspaper front cover earlier this week in the UK.
If you’ve seen it and you’re experiencing strong feelings of anger for those portrayed (I won’t use the word ‘surveyed’, because it’s a totally inaccurate depiction of what actually happened) as ‘sympathising with those who join ISIS’ I’d genuinely like to invite you to talk to me privately about this, if you’d like to. I won’t lecture you (you can read about how I feel below) I can listen or we can talk – but I’m really happy to either way.
I believe it’s very possible to feel sorrow for people who (for a variety of very complex and complicated reasons) feel driven to commit such atrocities and to attempt to understand why they might do so, without supporting what they’ve done.
Some people have ‘armies’ and some people have ‘terrorists’; some people have governments ‘legitimising’ violence (even when those they are representing disagree) and some take theirs from moral codes, feelings of injustice, personal agendas, and individual interpretations of religious texts. We ALL have our own ideologies and doctrines, our own struggles, and our own ways of legitimising and justifying the actions we take and the decisions we make in our own heads.
I believe that working to understand each other and finding out where it hurts for all of us might be the only way to ever find peace. Reacting out of fear or hatred never gets any of us anywhere. We ARE all different, but fighting one ideology with another causes more suffering. There are ways to stop people being killed (by all sides) with a firm and strong ‘No’, without it coming from a place of hatred. So please remember that this is a ‘war’ of ideology that feeds on hatred on all sides, it feeds on separation, division and ‘othering’ and coming together in our common humanity (whatever that might look like) is an antidote we haven’t yet tried.
NB: I wrote this on the 23rd when the ‘story’ was first published and I know there have been developments since then on the journalistic merit of the article and the ‘survey’. I feel that the original sentiment of this post still holds true for me.