When common ground is a war zone

In an ideal world we should all be rounded up and shot. The firing squads would then turn the guns on themselves and the problems of humanity would be sorted. Nature, if it had a mind, might rejoice and give the birds and bees a chance. A few centuries or so and it would be like we were never here at all. As if Eden was restored.

I guess you are not liking that prospect. Unless, of course, you are utterly fed up and running out of options.

In the film If entirely sensible public schoolboys broke into the school armoury and declared war on their oppressors and anyone else who happened to be in the way.  The film was made before the era of mass shootings and suicide bombers, so modern audiences probably view it quite differently to how it was seen at the time. The boys seem less sympathetic now.

The first time we heard of suicide bombers we were naturally appalled that anyone could feel so desperate that they could give up their lives in such a way. Previously Buddhist Monks had set fire to themselves as a final act of protest and while some were sickened by their actions, few questioned their integrity.

But now we are so alienated  by the vicious antics of ISIS and such like that the tables have turned and any expression of empathy is outlawed;  Ken Livingstone was recently condemned for describing the London Tube bombers as giving up their lives. As if acknowledging any sacrifice by the terrorists lends credence to their cause.

I am no apologist for terrorists, though accept that our Christian forefathers were responsible for this unending escalation of hostilities. Their only answer was murder. By comparison Saladin was civilised.  And it is a lesson we, in the West, seem reluctant to learn. The fervour behind the crusades simmers below the surface ever ready to erupt.

Today we have modern Crusaders like Donald Trump whipping up the masses with  the type of rhetoric that was in vogue at the time of the Third Reich. When faced by such polarisation between the moderates and extremists, it is tempting to abandon reason and seek the other sides total destruction. But I learnt one lesson from poetry.

“We must love one another or die…”

(Sadly the poet, Auden, was later to describe this as a lie.)


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