A sea of humanity ebbed and flowed on streets and squares across France and in other European capitals, demonstrating their solidarity with the families of the victims and defending liberty, equality and fraternity against the forces of terrorism.
People of all races, colors and religions, with 40 world leaders heading up the march, came together in the hope that this could be a tragedy that pulls all the disparate forces of society together to find a way forward in a country with Europe’s highest populations of Muslims and Jews. It was a remarkable sight after the carnage on Parisian streets last week. And we can only pray that other radical sections of society won’t seek revenge for these acts of terror.
I was especially moved by the Muslim voices that came forward in the media coverage, condemning the terrorists. Above all, Malek Merabet, the brother of the slain Muslim policeman, Ahmed Merabet. They were false Muslims, he said, for Islam is a religion of peace and love. The terrorists were disaffected people using Islam as an excuse for their crimes.
As moving as the occasion was, my thoughts cannot help but stray to the thereafter. It’s well and necessary to employ anti-terror measures and intelligence to try and prevent such travesties, but even though the perpetrators were known by the authorities, it didn’t avert their evil deeds.
In my opinion, the only solution is not an easy one, nor is it a speedy one. Only people who have a stake in mainstream society will live and act in a way to maintain that status quo. The rub is: there are far too many dispossessed immigrants living in France. Until they are educated and/or trained to do work that allows them to respect themselves – and others – and become part of the system, they will be vulnerable to demigods and hate mongers who are themselves products of their disjointed world.
Of course, this message cannot only be directed at France. Great Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries beyond Europe have many of the same problems to a varying extent, whether resulting from their past colonial transgressions or from the present humanitarian catastrophes currently convulsing the Middle East, Ukraine and great swathes of Africa. There is a lot of homework to be done and a lot of money that needs spending, and the less that is applied to weapons, the better.
But how can I as an individual make any difference in this terrible malaise?
- By using my vote to elect leaders who understand that politicians are not there for their own aggrandizement but to work hard on behalf of their constituencies – including those who genuinely need help, to solve problems rather than causing more.
- By being hands-on in welcoming new refugees to my community in any form required. Language classes, help with bureaucracy, finding accommodations…
The list is goes on.
We are all Charlie.