Two weeks of terror. Now we have to remember to love

By Laura Lynott   @Ly211

The world seems to be becoming an increasingly unsettled place with mass killings, terror, political turmoil and economic woes threatening global stability – with 19 disabled people killed in a knife attack in Tokyo last night – and a priest butchered today in France – as society desperately questions WHY?

I, much like most of you, remember July 14 – Bastille Day in Nice, France, for all the wrong reasons now.  With time, I hope that changes.

That is the day in my little world, when I had finished writing for the day and turned on Twitter before I settled down for the night.

Like most of you, my blood turned cold as I saw the death toll rise – 84 innocent people, adults and children, who had been out celebrating France’s national day, had been killed after ISIS sympathiser, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, drove a truck in to revellers.

Camera phones recorded footage of the carnage – a sight that should never be seen on the internet, let alone by anyone out celebrating a family event.  

The horror seemed to be recorded almost like a disturbing film.  Somehow it wasn’t real, it was too shocking to be real – sadly it was.  This was reality and the bloodshed was about to continue throughout the coming days – almost in devastating synchronicity.

Then only three days later, again, as I was settling in for night, like most people in Ireland – I saw the attempted military coup unfolding on Twitter.  I followed credible news reports from the BBC and Channel 4 news and couldn’t believe what was unfolding before my eyes.  After all, like Nice, Turkey is somewhere that many of us have visited, would visit tomorrow, on our holiday.

For some reason, the human mind seems to get more startled by such conflict if we feel some type of relation to that country or if it is on our own doorstep.

Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a professor at the University of Texas–San Antonio and top researcher on the connection between media consumption and stress, told the New Yorker in 2014, that when we consume a continuation of bad news it adds to our burgeoning sense of helplessness – with us gradually seeing the world as a darker and darker place, chipping away at certain optimistic tendencies.

McNaughton-Casill spoke at a time when ISIS were storming across Syria on a murderous rampage, claiming Islam – a religion of peace – as their cause.  But though those were without doubt, worrying times, it seems right now, in the past two weeks we are being repeatedly exposed to bad news over and over on a cycle I’m sure most of us want to get off.

Mary McNaughton-Cassill
Mary McNaughton-Cassill

265 people were killed in the Turkish massacre and still, the trauma of the situation has not calmed down.

Warrants for the arrest of 42 journalists have been issued in relation to a state investigation in to the coup attempt – a matter which is clearly a strike against press freedom and civil liberties.

And thousands of judges, police, prosecutors and solidiers, have been arrested as the investigation continues in to a plot, the Turkish Government claims was carried out by followers of U.S-based cleric Fethullah Gullen, a ally-turned foe of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But even as the thousands who claimed democracy, the ordinary people of Turkey, as they fought the insurgence – the blood lust was apparent among some sadly, as media images showed a group of men kicking the bloodied head of a soldier, who had been part of the coup attempt.

And Amnesty International has reported that suspects involved in the failed coup have been beaten, tortured and raped, during detainment.

 The world seems increasingly lost…as we watch and read the news.

Then, last Friday – I had taken a day off from writing. I’d escaped to the beach like many of us tried to do before the final days of summer escape us.  I had blissfully forgotten the turmoil surrounding me in the world…until, I went for a bite in a cafe that evening.

Families ordering at the counter looked up at a TV screen, and I realised it had happened again. What exactly IT is, I can’t describe…but this was another killing spree – and again so close to us, in Germany.

A teenage killer, Ali Sonboly, 18, had shot dead nine people and injured 27, after he organised a false Facebook message to attract young people to visit a Munich McDonalds for a free meal.

Sonboly, who had Iranian and German citizenship, had reportedly idolised far right killer, Anders Breivik – who slaughtered 77 young people in Utoya, Norway, in 2011.

It was reported he had planned for a year to carry out a mass shooting emulating his sick hero – and he had bore particular hatred for those he claimed bullied him at school, children of Turkish and Arab origins.  Though none of his classmates were hurt in the shootings.

All I could see as I looked up at the TV, was the image of shoppers running from a shopping mall and then as I looked down, the traumatised face of a child as she asked her mother just what was happening on TV, in the world?  The mother shook her head, she didn’t know the answer.

Then, last night – only three days later – again, I was messaged “Did you see what’s happened in Tokyo?”

I put down my computer, where I had been editing a positive story for Ireland Today – and looked up Tokyo in the news.

The New York Times informed me there had been yet ANOTHER mass killing – and this time of the most vulnerable group of all, disabled people – those with mental disabilities.

A 26-year-old former employee of a car centre, Satoshi Uematsu, had killed 19 disabled people in their sleep.

He had broken in to the centre in a small town near Tokyo and carried out the atrocity, with intention of killing 260 disabled people in total.

The suspect had wrote in a February letter that he could “obliterate 470 disabled people,” Kyodo news agency reported.

According to the agency, he had also written a letter stating “My goal is a world in which the severely disabled can be euthanized, with their guardians’ consent, if they are unable to live at home and be active in society.”

He had been taken to hospital for treatment after making the statements but was released March 2 after a doctor said he had improved. The suspect handed himself in after the killings.

Today, I and most of you reading this thought, we need peace, perhaps more than ever – but it is also the day we hear of the murder of a priest – a man charged with bringing peace.

Father Jacques Hamel, 84, was murdered, his throat slit, after two men – reported as followers of Islamic State, entered a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France at 9.34 am, during morning prayers.

They took five hostages – two nuns, two parishioners and Fr Hamel.  The men killed the priest and severely injured another hostage – who it was reported by the Guardian, was between “life and death.”

The two hostage takers were shot dead by police as they left the church.  French President Francois Hollande described the killing as “an ignoble terrorist attack.”

It has been reported that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack on its affiliated Amaq news agency.  But as with the Nice attack, and the fact the killer had lived locally, reports have emerged that at least one of the two killers – as of yet unnamed, lived in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

It seems that the past two weeks have been witness to ongoing turmoil in the West.  In 2014 many of us were horrified by the increasing bloodshed in Syria – but today we are worried about our neighbours, our holiday destinations, and undoubtedly our doorstep.

While many of us have family that live across Europe and the world, many, who were forced to leave Ireland and the UK, to find work, as the economic crisis took hold.

I myself worried about my cousin, when I heard Friday’s killings were in Germany – but thankfully he lives in another city.

But then again, I also worried for family members in London in the July 7 2005 terror attack carried out on the tube and a London bus.

52 were killed that day and 700 injured – and that tragedy had far-reaching consequences on security and public confidence, across the UK.

The four bombers were all British citizens – Islamic extremists – and two were only 18 and 19.

And all this panic has without doubt been increased by the UK’s vote to leave Europe last month.

I remember a time before I left the UK, some years later that it seemed a division was increasing.  And we have witnessed a right wing movement growing across the UK and Europe.

Such reports instill fear in some people – they breed paranoia and anxiety in others.  If we can learn anything from the past two weeks, perhaps we should look at our own lives.

If we look at each of these reports none were truly about race or religion, but Tokyo perhaps explained these incidents better than I possibly could: they were ALL driven by one thing: HATE.

If we fear terrorism, we are letting the few maniacs who carry out atrocities win.  And if we hate a race or religion for the few murderers who carried out an act of evil, then all we do is perpetuate hate.

I know the mother in the cafe couldn’t explain the hatred in Munich on Friday.  But this is how I explain hate to my own daughter.  If we educate our children not to hate, we can win this war of fear with love and compassion.











Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.