The attacks in France got to me… in a way that they were carefully designed to.
As someone who works in marketing, it’s chilling to see Terrorists use the tools of the trade against us.
It puts a sickness in my stomach to see ISIS becoming media-savvy. And I can’t shake the feeling we’ve been played for chumps.
These attacks in Paris have churned up a lot of feelings in me, but they’re all compounded by the feeling that I’m being carefully manipulated. That these feelings – the horror, the grief, the outrage and the anger – are exactly the feelings they want me to be feeling.
In that sense, Paris was a very strategic choice. Almost everyone has positive associations about Paris. I’ve never been there, but I feel like I have. Ask anyone and Paris evokes feelings of leisure and pleasure, baguettes and romance, pretty couples kissing beneath a bridge.
When that vision is shattered with violence, we feel the violence of having that vision stolen from us.
And Paris is one of the capitals of the west. Any one who identifies as living in the west feels a sense of ownership over that city. In many ways it’s a short distance from Melbourne to Paris. These attacks feel close to home.
And there has been a shift in recent years to more ‘ordinary’ targets. It’s a trend across the world. The soccer stadium. The theatre.
Once it was the US embassy, the NATO base. Who ever hangs out there? But a sporting event? Everyone goes to one of those.
Watching the events unfold last weekend I was struck by footage of a young man leaving the theatre. He was my son’s age. Wore the same clothes. Had more than a passing resemblance.
My son’s an arty guy. He could have easily ended up at the Bataclan. And suddenly I wanted him close.
I felt a fear that I would never see him again.
I felt the fear that I was supposed to fear.
The bastards had got to me.
And there’s something so disgusting about that – that people would use other people’s bodies – innocent people’s bodies – to get to my mind, and to get to all of our minds.
And once they’ve got the keys to our mind, they use that access only to cultivate more fear and hate and a sense of lack.
These are the very same ideas that have kept humanity locked down in this mire of suffering and violence for eons.
And so it seemed to be a powerful commitment to perpetuate the ugliest aspects of humanity. Really? That’s the vision of the world you’re committed to?
And look, I don’t want to take sides. I know enough to know how much I don’t know. The violence of ISIS has its seed in the violence of Iraq, which was born out of the cold war, which came from the second world war, which goes back to the first world war… which probably goes back to a dispute over the patent rights on the first wheel.
Back and back it goes – further back than history books care to remember. Violence creates violence. These cycles of revenge and power have been playing out for centuries.
And I’m cynical enough to be sceptical about stories of stone-age militants somehow befuddling massively resourced military-industrial complexes. Who’s paying for al these guns and bombs and rockets?
And think of the carnage Osama bin Laden was supposed to have orchestrated, hooked up to a dialysis machine in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan.
I’m incapable of organising a dinner reservation if I don’t have a wi-fi signal.
And then there’s a media industry that thrives in times like these, and is happy to unquestioningly spew up whatever they’re fed, so long as it sells.
Like the story of the Syrian passport found near one of the Terrorist’s bodies… Really? Who takes their passport on a suicide mission? And then drops it?
I know there’s a lot of money to be made in war. A lot of votes to be won in flaming racial tensions.
Who knows who’s working behind the scenes? I certainly don’t. But I would be very, very surprised if the truth is what I’m reading in the weekend papers.
But despite my ignorance, I still feel a sadness, and I grieve for the innocent lives that have been lost – that have been wasted.
And it feels like a waste to me, because it just doesn’t have to be this way. I believe we live in an abundant world. I see it with my own eyes. We’re capable of incredible things. There’s more than enough food, water and land to keep the whole world safe and happy.
The only thing lacking is will.
We still haven’t found a way to cast of the legacies of power and greed and I-want-more-than-you.
And it’s just sad. That we can live in an age where material abundance for everybody is within our grasp, but we just can’t make it happen.
That’s sad isn’t it?
But at the same time, it also reinforces my desire savour every last drop of life, while I have it. To suck the sweet juice out of life. It calls me back into alignment with my priorities and values.
Less work more lifestyle.
Less stress more happiness.
Less worry more fun
Less control, more freedom.
Less fear, more celebration of the things I have. More gratitude for my friends and family, the freedoms I enjoy, this beautiful country.
Whenever stuff like this goes down, it shifts my perspective… in a positive way. Any problems I have just fade away, and I come back to what really matters.
And so for me, Terrorism is kind of counter-productive. It strengthens my resolve to savour life and celebrate the things that count.
But maybe my response isn’t typical. I work hard on having a positive mindset, so I’m kind of geared to taking the energy of events like this and using it to reinforce my values.
Perhaps if you were scared and insecure in your place in the world, then these events would drive you further into fear. That would be a shame.
So that’s what I’m celebrating in today’s blog. Remember abundance, come back to gratitude, celebrate and enjoy life. Let the light drive out the dark.
If we’re strong in these things, then the manipulators of fear can’t touch us.
How do you understand what’s happening in France and the rest of the world? How does it make you feel?