Bits and Bites on terrorism

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Going forward

With hope and confidence in uncertain times

Image: Detail of photo of refugess, via the author.

“How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let it rule your life. Even if you’re scared.” — Salmon Rushdie

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Image: Detail of photo of Alberte Villeuneuve-SinclairI was at a dinner and dance on Friday 13 November. We were celebrating the first anniversary of our group with good company, good food, singing and dancing. To the sound of the accordion, we even sang some old French favourites and held hands while we circled around the room.

When I left at the end of the evening, I listened to one of my favourite CDs and sang “I won’t give up” with Jason Mraz although my voice was a little hoarse by then. Sleep came easily that night but my wake-up call was distressing. My clock-radio came on with news of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Three terrorist groups had launched extremely brutal attacks in six different places, the worst massacre occurring at the Bataclan where a rock concert was being held. The terrorists, connected to ISIL, also targeted a soccer stadium and four nightspots. In the aftermath, 129 people died and more than 360 were injured. Paris was in shock!

The next day, I met with two of my friends, June and Val, who are also writers. The get-together was pleasant and although we talked about the tragedy, the conversation moved along to different topics. But on Sunday, I took the time to catch up on the tragic events. Lives had been shattered, hostages had been used as shields, ninety-nine people were fighting for their lives and countless others were traumatized. I didn’t quite understand the complexity of the Syria-Iraq warring factions until I listened to a presentation that identified the four groups that are fighting for power and the vested interests of other countries who are looking to gain from this turmoil. I was horrified and finally understood why so many Syrians were risking their lives to get away from their shattered homeland. I felt deeply their pain and misery and their losses as so many people had already been killed in Syria. Mass graves were being uncovered. Fortunately, I was able to share my feelings and my friend, Françoise, suggested we go out to dinner. It provided relief from the ugliness of war and terrorism.

The following Wednesday, November 18, Abdelhamid Abaaoud (the mastermind behind the attacks) was finally tracked down and died during a heavy gun battle in Saint-Denis. Identified as Abaaoud’s cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, had blown herself up during that stand-off. Again, I was left questioning the barbarism related to this worship of violence and complete negation of our modern society by ISIL recruits. How could young women accept this role knowing that they are not treated fairly in the Islamic world, knowing that ISIL has killed, raped and enslaved so many innocent girls and women? Was she their scapegoat? Was she forced into that role? As John Perkins was quoted saying: “I’ve never met anyone who wanted to be a terrorist. They are desperate people.”

In an open letter to the terrorists, Antoine Leiris who lost his wife in the Bataclan terrorist attack wrote: “Alors non je ne vous ferai pas ce cadeau de vous haïr. Vous l’avez bien cherché pourtant mais répondre à la haine par la colère ce serait céder à la même ignorance qui a fait de vous ce que vous êtes.”

("No, I will not offer you the gift of hatred. You have certainly wished it but to respond to hate with rage would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you who you are.")

Lao-tzu, the prophet of ancient China basically preached the same thing during a period of war and social upheaval:

“… and I choose not to remain in extremes of resentment and anger. But there is also my desire to do something about those circumstances… By remaining internally peaceful and avoiding the extremes, I will impact the world in the same loving way that the Tao eternally manifests from love and kindness.”

Like Antoine Leiris, we need to steer away from hatred. As we prepare for the Christmas season, I would like to remind everyone of our beloved Wayne Dyer’s advice that we make a decision to live harmoniously by removing all associations with violence, that we stop supporting entertainment that promotes any type of it. He also suggested we monitor our vocabulary, thus removing words that relate to hatred or killing and that we strive to resolve disputes peacefully. Finally, he suggested that we might want to get involved with organizations that discourage violence.

Canadians will have a key support role to play in the Liberal refugee plan to accept eligible families and children who are in need. Hopefully, we will respond with generosity and kindness. As for the Christmas shopping list, please remove any gift that pertains to violence! Kudos to Toys R Us in France that took twenty-three toys that look like guns and weapons off the shelves. Frankly, I think we should do the same.

Happy shopping! Enjoy the Christmas season! Blessings to all and let’s hope and pray 2016 brings peace and harmony to the world!

Image: Photo of women at floral and candle-light vigil, provided by the author.