Like most of the people in the world, I am stunned and heartbroken by the merciless violence inflicted by ISIS in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, and beyond.
I’ve always considered France to be my second country, and I ache for the city of Paris. I also lived in Baghdad when I was young, and share equal sorrow for the beleaguered countries of the Middle East.
The rampant violence erupting now is largely the result of a legacy handed down from the US led invasion of Iraq. Without this deadly move and its continuing path of destruction, there would be no ISIS. In the same way, without the US support of Mujahideen in Afghanistan and military presence in Saudi Arabia, there would have been no Al Qaeda. And let us not forget the fuel to the fire effect of our devastating drone war.
Even when our governments engage in the tempting folly of revenge, we the people must remind them that the original enemies are not the population, but dreams of empire, greed, and religious extremism on all sides. If there are to be any remedies against escalating violence, we need to not shy away from understanding what has created the level of fanaticism and hatred we are seeing, taking responsibility for our own ignorance, and mourning the lives lost.
The Holy Quran (5:32) says, “Whoever kills an innocent person is as if he killed all of humanity.” In the Gospels, Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26 52-54), and Gandhi, who had successfully wielded nonviolence against the British Empire said, “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” There are seeds for peace in all religions, and avenging atrocities with atrocities serves no one.
As Gandhi also said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.”
So I am heartened to see, in contrast to the horror and bloodshed, the courage, compassion, and human kindness demonstrated by millions of people around the world who are in mourning, with flowers, prayers, candles and their own volunteered blood.
Today, I am Paris, I am Beirut, I am Baghdad, and beyond…
reposted rom the Facebook page of Joan Baez