What would you do?

Mrs F and I contemplated this question about 12 hours after we’d first heard of the horrific scenes in Paris.  We were sat in a coffee shop in a very large shopping centre, one that has been the focus of terrorist plots before – at least there have been arrests, trials and imprisonments that say so.

“What would you do if it happened here and now?”  I was honest; no sense of chivalry or bravery.  I’d run.  I’d try to get away as far and as fast as I could.  It is impossible to say what you would or wouldn’t do isn’t it until you are in that situation and for the vast majority of us we’ll never be there.  There is relief in that thought.  Last Friday night my son was at a rock concert in Birmingham.  He regularly attends such events, he loves music and takes advantage of living in a large city to do so.  I’ve been a regular gig goer most of my adult life, although as economic realities of reduced salary and simply the issues of conditions like my tinnitus and vertigo I go less these days.  What I’m say is…  we could so easily have been in a place like The Bataclan at the wrong time on the wrong day… there but for the Grace of God.  I of course, selfishly, am grateful this wasn’t in Birmingham at the venue my son was enjoying himself at.

My overriding feeling watching the events and reports from Paris is just one of total disbelief and numbness.  What are these people trying to achieve?  I know there is the fear thing, the changing how people live their lives and distrusting others – I get that to them is a victory of sorts.  But truly is the plan to remove from the earth every single person who doesn’t live by the rules they (the tiny minority) have decided are the only “correct” version?  I struggle to get into that mind set – how can you be so utterly blind in that belief?  Largely in the back of my head is the phrase “So what happens when you have killed us all?  What then?  Who’s next?”

Is it possible that in a few thousand years an alien race who’ve just heard one of our first radio transmissions arrive from a distant galaxy to shake hands with some new neighbours in their bit of the galaxy.   They arrive to find only animals that haven’t the technology of the capacity to look out from their precious blue planet.  They find cities being reclaimed by the wildlife where the intelligent ones lived and all they can deduce is that they all killed each other in a war where a few sought to impress on the many that they were the ones who were right and that all the others were wrong.

They take a bunch of photos – write some music, songs and poetry, paint disturbing impressions of the final apocalypse  they have found and view and perform these back on their own planet to an audience that doesn’t comprehend… except one at the back who thinks… maybe they were right and my way is better than everyone else’s if only I can convince them.   He goes off to make the first weapon that race had ever seen to be used by one of its own against its own.

Is that the sad pathetic legacy we humans (who are by the way the only sentient being we are aware of in the universe with the capacity we have technology wise) are going to leave behind?

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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13 Responses to What would you do?

  1. Humans are a warring species. It’s in our DNA. There has always been conflict somewhere on the planet and there probably always will be. ‘What do they want’ is the question that keeps being asked over and over. For starters, I think they want all traces of the West out of the Middle East. Once that happens, they’ll set about converting whatever remains into their belief system.

    I’m a quasi-lefty from way back and I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but I can’t help thinking that detonating a thermonuclear device over Syria would quiet things down a bit.

    • Although, now that I think about it, the 9/11 attackers were all from Saudi Arabia. So maybe one bomb won’t be sufficient to do the job.

    • furtheron says:

      Sigh…. So the answer to hatred and violence is violence on a greater scale? My daughter said a great quote the other night after the announcement of great French attacks in Syria as a result of the Paris atrocities… “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Ghandi.

  2. Elsie Amata says:

    I used to think I’d be this brave hero that would whisk people away. Then I had kids. Now I know I would think of them. If they were there, I’d cover them, or grab them, and run like hell. If it were just me, I’d run. As for what we do now? My unpopular opinion is this: we we stop letting people into the US. Open borders need to be a thing of the past because the terrorists want to bring the terror to us. But, as I said, that is a very unpopular opinion because what I’m reading is that I’m blaming a majority of innocent people for the crimes of the minority. To me, I just feel that those minority of people aren’t worth the risk of innocent lives being lost.

    • furtheron says:

      Sigh… Whose borders? The borders are arbitrary lines drawn up in some way but what is the difference from me this side of the border and you that side of the border? No dis-respect Elsie but also the country you live in was the domain of the Native American tribes until only a very recent fraction of history ago. Why don’t they then have the right to say “This is actually our land you lot all sod off back to Europe” This is my point, the nations, tribes, factions, religions etc. are all dumb concepts we’ve created that we could un-create but choose to see as immutable… to me they aren’t but I know I’m a lone voice in that argument

  3. I don’t get war. Never have. It’s definitely not in my DNA. These people who are full of hate — I’ve hated but not on the scale that they hate. I don’t understand what they hope to achieve either. It seems like instead of making people change their believes to align with theirs, they turn people off to the entire religion, not just their extremist factions.

    Mostly, I’m filled with horror, much like I was when I stood in my front yard and observed the Twin Towers black smoke rise into the sky for days after the attack. I just think, “Why?”

    I have no idea of how I’d behave if I were there either. Honestly, I imagine myself talking sense into the terrorists, which is a ridiculous fantasy.

  4. looby says:

    The best post I’ve read about this, which explains the aims of the terrorists, was on Plump’s excellent blog — which I commend to the house — at (God knows whether wordpress can cope with something so outlandishly moderne as hyperlinks but here goes…) Fat Man On A Keyboard. The quote is from Jason Burke.

    “The aims of terrorist violence are threefold. The first is to terrorise enemies, and thus, through the functioning of democracy, to force the leaders of those democracies to make deci-sions that they would not otherwise have made. The second is to mobilise supporters by inspiring them into action. The third aim is perhaps the most important. Here, the violence is addressed to the uncommitted, the swing voters in the global struggle between right and wrong, belief and unbelief. These are the people within a terrorist’s own community, or a particular constituency of significance in their campaign, who need to be convinced of the righteousness of a cause, the efficacy of a strategy, and the ability or vision of a leader. But they are also those who have so far resisted the urge to hate, to retaliate, to use violence themselves among the community which is being targeted. The aim, then, is to polarise.

    Al-Qaeda leaders and extremist thinkers more generally have often described their desire to force Muslims around the world to make a choice and to deepen divisions within and between communities. Bin Laden repeatedly spoke of the importance of reducing the immensely complex matrix of identities that each of us is composed of – one’s social origins, gender, education, nationality, city, favourite sports team, sexual proclivity, language and so on – to a single marker of faith. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi frequently explained how he sought to use violence to turn communities against each other. In early 2015, in a chilling if lucid editorial in its magazine Dabiq, IS laid out its own strategy to eliminate what the writer, or writers, called ‘the Gray Zone’. This Gray Zone was, according to IS, what lay between belief and unbelief, good and evil, the righteous and the damned, and home to all those who had yet to commit to the forces of either side too.

    The Gray Zone, IS claimed, had been ‘critically endangered [since] the blessed operations of September 11th, as these operations mani- fested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam and a camp of kufr’. The magazine even quoted bin Laden, in line with the IS belief that it, rather than the current al-Qaeda, is the true inheritor of his legacy: ‘The world today is divided. [President George] Bush spoke the truth when he said, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Meaning, either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam. Eventually, the Gray Zone will become extinct and there will be no place for grayish calls and movements. There will only be the camp of [the caliphate] versus the camp of kufr.’
    Over the years, the anonymous author of the ten-page article claimed, successive violent acts had narrowed the Gray Zone and by the end of 2014 ‘the time had come for another event to . . . bring division to the world and destroy the Gray Zone everywhere’.

    This event, apparently, was the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, in January 2015. “…

    • furtheron says:

      My question is more philosophical than a need to directly understand the agenda of these attacks which are to provoke more antagonism towards them since that creates the atmosphere of hate they wish to see… but more why is the human race so intent on continuing to do this to itself. But then maybe it is only me that truly would love to see a world in total peace and harmony with itself… maybe that isn’t possible and the reason the human race has been so dominant on this planet is that we’ve evolved with this incredible desire to be one up on those next to us and we therefore cannot exist in harmony ever as it simply isn’t in our philosophical DNA

      • looby says:

        Humans can live in stable communities, but not when they outgrow a certain size I think. It’s not long ago that we’d have known very little about Muslim extremism, let alone be affected by it.

  5. Eli Pacheco says:

    It feels like survival of the fittest in the most unhealthy realm. But it’s a fine line, I think.

    I just wish I had an answer to a common chord – like, if we could just get certain people together to share a pizza … maybe we can find a middle ground.

  6. Liz Hinds says:

    My son was supposed to be going to a Foo Fighters concert in Turin the night after Paris but it was cancelled. I suppose I should say that it should have gone on to prove the terrorists can’t win but I’m glad it didn’t.

    The world is a beautiful spoiled by some crazy people.

  7. Syd says:

    I certainly have no answers to any of the craziness. I retreat to my farm and my boat and hope that another world war doesn’t happen. I have not hated anyone enough to want to harm them. In fact, now I can’t even remember hating at all. Resentments, yes but not raw hate. The killings at Emanuel Church here in Charleston were horrific and were done by a white supremacist who hated blacks. And yet, he was forgiven by the families of some of the victims. Something is wildly out of whack with the world right now. I am hoping that doing the next right thing will help some. Just not sure anymore about much.

  8. daisyfae says:

    Like you, i admit it’s hard to know what i’d do in such a circumstance… but self-preservation would likely be the first response. Why do they do this? Yes, for influence and to scare people and all that… but i think it’s more fundamental in some ways. Inconsequential, marginalized, impoverished people – want to believe they matter. Want to believe they make a difference. Whether it’s working for charity and being recognized, or blowing yourself up to make a political statement, these people are brainwashed and broken and i don’t think we can possibly ‘defeat’ them…. any attempt to do so (ie: bombing) only creates more…

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