My last post, about the eight weeks I spent in the NHS, was quite a serious one, and I was supposed to follow it up with an article that went back to my usual ridiculous humour. I was supposed to be publishing an article on childbirth, and it promised to be a hoot. It has vagina jokes! It has vomit! It has me getting high!! It was going to be a gloriously sarcastic piece that I would find hilarious even if no-one else did. I was supposed to publish it on Saturday morning.
But then Saturday morning happened, and somehow I couldn’t find the ability to press ‘publish’.
I, like many others, woke up on Saturday morning to read about what had happened on Friday night. To read that over 400 people were dead or injured through no fault of their own other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I woke up to read that once again, we were a country in mourning. I woke up to read that we, as a European nation, were under attack again.
After pouring through news articles and moment by moment reports, I then scrolled through my social media feeds, which were almost exclusively dedicated to the very news I had been reading. I saw my friend’s sadness and shock. I saw their fear and worry. I saw their promises of solidarity to Paris and I saw their Facebook profiles with filters of the French flag. And then I saw it. Amongst those that were desperate to help and desperate to show their support to the victims, I saw it.
I saw the hate.
I saw the people who were declaring war and promising to ‘get them all out’. People belittling and mocking a whole group of individuals and reducing their beliefs to nothing but filth. I saw hundreds of people who were no longer being quiet in their racism, they were screaming it. People banning all Muslims from their businesses because of their relation to Islamic state, and people comparing Muslims to the dangerous breeds of dog. I actually read someone use the logic that like Pitbulls, only a small minority bite but we should be wary of the whole ‘breed’.
My husband showed me a post that had appeared on his Newsfeed. There was an image of a Qur’an being burned, with the quote ‘Let’s see who has the Balls to share this!’ No, I won’t be sharing that image. But it isn’t because I ‘don’t have the balls’. It’s because I’m not a complete prick.
Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. I get that you’re frightened and worried and you want to be able to blame someone. I get that you want the be able to easily identify who you should be afraid of. I get that all the people who you are told to hate are all from the same segregation of people, and that the only representation you can see are the ‘bad ones’. I get it, I really do.
But how can you hate 3.5 billion people for the work of a few thousand?
When I think about the people you hate, I think about the smart and bright young man who used to work Saturdays in our local corner shop in Reading, who once helped me clean up after my two year old daughter was sick. Who leant her his jumper because we still needed to walk home and she was drenched through, and continued to be respectful to people who muttered that he was “probably a suicide bomber”. I think about the doctor who operated on my friend when she was in a car accident and saved her life even though people would claim he was one of those who would want to end it. I think about the hundreds of men and women who used to work hard for my husband and who were always so kind and polite to my family when we visited him in work. And most of all, I think about the little girl who played with mine at toddler group every week and her mum. The little girl, who played dolls with my little girl and gave her big hugs and sang Frozen songs with her. Who was so unbelievably beautiful, with shiny jet black hair and massive Disney eyes and an adorable laugh. I think about her Mum who wore a head dress but chatted to me about Masterchef and toddler tantrums and her husband’s awful dress sense like any other Mum. I think about how she had the same worries as I did: about when she should go back to work and whether her elder daughter was being good in school.
I don’t understand how someone can hate them. I don’t get how someone could look at that beautiful little girl who jumped in the ball-pit with my own little girl and shrieked with laughter and hate her.
When I think about those people, I don’t think about how much I’m supposed hate them. I think about how alone so many Muslims must feel though they’re surrounded by people. I think about how their people are being attacked almost constantly but no-one seems to care for them. I think about their families, their friends, or just their fellow Muslims, who are being slaughtered in their hundreds and rather than mourning for them, people blame them. As if it’s all their fault for daring to be born into a culture and follow a religion. For being held responsible for the work of less than 0.03% of them (yes, really).
I think how glad I am that I don’t get held responsible for every white woman that abuses her kids, and that I don’t need to worry about our car being set alight because several women in their twenties have killed their children. I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t get vilified for every white man that rapes a teenager. That all American teenagers aren’t held responsible for every nutter that charges into their local high school and open fires and that my family’s local church isn’t seen as a representative of the Klu Klux Klan.
But of course, “it’s not the same thing”, is it?
On Friday night, Paris was attacked by terrorists. What happened that night was horrific, and once again innocent people have lost their futures for a war they never started. For those attacks I blame The Islamic State. I blame the horrendous people behind those attacks and a messed-up Ideology that they’re doing it for some greater good, some God that would want them to hurt people for him. But I don’t blame Muslims. I don’t blame the young lad at my local shop, the doctor who saved my friend or the little girl who was friends with my toddler. Hating people will not stop terrorism. Blaming a whole religion will not stop IS. Please, don’t respond to this horror by hating people who don’t want this war any more than you do.
“Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that” (Martin Luther King).