I’ve not been listening to the news much lately, so I learned about the Paris attacks from Facebook. My heart goes out to anyone affected by this. I remember the 7/7 London bombings all too vividly; I know what it does to a city and to its people.
Because my ‘thing’ is forgiveness, I’ve been reflecting on forgiveness in this situation. Firstly I think what the terrorists did was wrong on any possible level you can think of. Presumably most of them died in the process, but I believe that anyone involved in the planning/execution who is caught should be punished with a life sentence.
It’s not for me to say how the people affected by it should feel, and it’s right that the rest of us should feel sad and angry for what has happened to them. But I don’t believe that bombing the shit out of Syria will actually change anything.
It is almost as if there are two parallel processes going on. The people who support the Parisians, are appalled by what has happened and desire peace, and the machinery that wants to use it as an excuse to exercise military might. The problem being that it is military might that got us into this mess in the first place.
I studied modern middle eastern politics as part of my first degree (OK up to 1978) and the West has to take its share of responsibility for causing events like this. It’s easy to say they are mad terrorists of an Islamic variety, and that’s what it’s all about, but long before our governments invaded Iraq, long before even the Iran/Iraq war, we – the British and the French in particular – were doing stupid and often appalling things. Broken promises post WW1, a commitment to empire at all costs, denigration of the Islamic/Arab culture…the list is endless. The seeds of all this conflict lie very deep.
This is not to excuse what has been done. There is no excuse. And there wasn’t much excuse for what we in the West have historically done either.
As to forgiveness, there’s a myth that forgiveness condones bad behaviour. It doesn’t. It’s a letting go of the bond, the attachment, to the perpetrator. Because as long as we don’t forgive them and so don’t let them go, we’re trapped in their energy, in their paradigm and we give them our power.
And if we really want peace, then forgiveness is a far more effective way to achieve it than war.
My friend and teacher David Shephard created a lovely light meditation, which you can find here.
(This post first appeared on my facebook page 14/11/2015)