We Can’t Let Fear Define Us

Paris Attack Memorial. Photo by Amber McDonald (CC BY 2.0)

Paris Attack Memorial. Photo by Amber McDonald (CC BY 2.0)

By Ryan Hamilton

“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” In a Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens warns of the dangers of ignorance and how ignorance will lead us all to doom unless we defeat it. That is what the attacks in Paris play off of. Ignorance. Fear. Base human emotions that go back to our earliest days as a species.

However, think about it. I can think of nothing more stupid then modern terrorism. Terrorism hasn’t affected government policy in the western world. In fact, it’s emboldened them to hunt terrorists down. Besides the over one hundred innocent Parisians who were brutally murdered, the people most hurt by these attacks are Muslims. There are millions of refugees wanting to come to Europe and North America. There is strong anti-immigrant sentiment and these attacks will only make them stronger. The “Islamic” State is making it much more difficult for the people who they say the want to protect to find a home.

Within the next weeks, a mosque, somewhere in the world, will likely be attacked. It might be vandalized or even burned. This is also ignorance. That is because people are scared. The “Islamic” State is a threat that we can’t point at. It’s hard to distinguish good people from bad people, so in all our ignorance, we attack everyone. We lash out, in every which way. In the next weeks, you will probably read or hear more Islamaphobic phrases. We must have the courage to stand up and say that this is wrong. We cannot blame an entire group of people for the actions of a small group of mad men. Do we blame all Caucasians for that man who attacked an African-American church in Charleston? No! Do we blame all Québécois for the October Crisis? No! Can we blame all Muslims for acts of terrorism? No! The headlines are filled with horrible stories, but we never hear about the hundred of millions of Muslims practicing their faith peacefully and lovingly.

We must confront ignorance, hatred and fear. As Georgians, we must defy those who seek to make us afraid. By allowing this hatred and fear to boil inside of us, we let those who would seek to make us afraid win. And that is something which I cannot allow. To quote the Dalai Lama, “Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”

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