Thursday, November 19, 2015

Statement on events in Paris and Beirut

It is with great sadness that the International Communications Forum has learnt of the shocking and brutal events in Beirut on Thursday night which left 43 dead and 200 seriously wounded and the subsequent events in Paris on Friday night that left 129 dead, 352 injured, 99 of whom are acutely injured.

This threat to the freedom of the world by ISIS, an organisation whose ideology expresses hatred for the other, is deeply and profoundly saddening. We strongly condemn these horrific terror attacks.
 
We hope and pray that there is not a polarising anti-Islamic backlash in France.
 
People always forget that the people who live most under the thumb of terrorists and extremists are the communities from which they come and in which they live, which are often more oppressed by extremists and in fear of violence than those who are the public target of terrorism.
 
In the aftermath of such carnage and bloodshed emotions are understandably roused. Feelings of outrage and demands for action are inevitable.

At such times many will empathise with the innocent while  being utterly perplexed at the motives of the perpetrators. Such irrational hatred is hard for most sane people to comprehend.

No ideology, no deeply felt grievance,  no religious belief or political cause can justify the shedding of so much innocent blood.  
 
Such acts will be judged by God and reckoned in the light of history as yet another example of our violent capacities when moral constraint and fellow human feeling are suppressed or,  through some twisted mental process, denied.

History  also shows  us that vengeful over-reaction to such events plays into the hands of the perpetrators. Terrorism met with  a 'vigilante' mentality for retribution is likely to increase the levels of hatred and provide nothing other than a  fleeting feeling of gratification when one,  or more, of "them" are  violently punished,  maybe by a drone strike;  the cycle of violence grinds on.
 
Is there a better way?

The major world religions, at their best,  sustain an intrinsically hopeful view of humanity while recognising our immoral  capacities.  World scriptures,  when read in the light of a merciful God, entreat every human heart to be merciful and as Abraham Lincoln said "listen to the better angels of our conscience".

While the best of human legal processes  must be brought to bear on those behind the Paris outrage we must also be mindful of God's law which calls to higher feelings and prayerful responses:
 
  • To break the cycle of violence,
  • To decrease the levels of hatred, 
  • To master our capacities for vengeance

And,

  • Kindle the embers of forgiveness.
 
Both Paris and Beirut are cities we know and love. Our deepest sympathy goes to the people of France, and indeed the people of Lebanon. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this challenging time and we wish them peace.

The International Communications Forum

Photo by A1C Mark Bucher, defenseimagery.mil on Wikimedia Commons