How To Deal With People Who Offend You

I've woken up this morning, and the world's gone crazy again. Men with guns have killed people who offended them, plus a few other random people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Last month it was my own hometown of Sydney, this month it's another city I love, Paris. [caption id="attachment_2340" align="alignright" width="300"]I am Charlie. So are you. I am Charlie. So are you.[/caption] Social media and the newspapers are abuzz with political leaders and lay people saying they won't cave in to “terrorists” by giving in to fear. Police and military forces have responded, and most of the gunmen and their accomplices are now dead. So are some of the hostages. I feel deeply saddened for the people who have lost their lives, and the families they leave behind. Yet I don't buy the rhetoric that says we won't feel fear because that would just be giving the “terrorists” what they want. To be honest, I feel frightened and powerless when I see people much like myself caught up in hostage dramas and ending up dying at the hands of men with guns who believe their martyrdom will earn them rewards in an afterlife I don't even believe exists. How can I possibly hope to influence the behaviour of people who subscribe to an ideology I don't agree with, following a religion I don't know much about, with a spiritual leader who appears above criticism in their minds? Even within Islam, different sects have a history of killing each other over what appear to me to be relatively minor doctrinal differences (or more likely because they just wanted their land and/or possessions), so the answer doesn't appear to lie there. That said, if the pen really is mightier than the sword, I'm willing to give it a go. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago