There’s an unspoken truth lingering out there.The world is at war. It isn’t all-encompassing- civilian men are not being called up by their country and sent to die in fields, you can go on a nice package holiday to most places in the world. However, it would be ignorant to turn a blind eye to the ongoing conflicts that pebble-dash the daily news. In fact, you may be able to go on a nice holiday, but avoid Egypt or Greece, because it’s going off round there. Oh, and don’t go on honeymoon to that island region, parts of it are lawless and you will be kidnapped by pirates.
That environment is not in keeping with that of a supposed peace time.Sure, the western world isn’t having to bare arms every five seconds (barring the States of course), but as you’re going through airport security to that carefully selected region, ask yourself this- “Is this peace time Europe?”.
Conspiracy theorists say this is down to taking our rights, it’s exactly what The Man wants. Don’t swallow that pill. It’s a placebo to distract you from the truth of the reality, that you’re probably not as safe as you think you are.
The point is, in a world like that, no nation can expect for the blood and horror to not spill onto their own streets, given time. No matter how virtuous that country or their actions may be, the darkness always closes in. Look at seemingly innocuous Norway and Anders Breivik. You can live in a lovely, leafy suburb where you don’t have to lock your doors, but that doesn’t mean kids aren’t being stabbed in Brixton, and that the rioting kids that stabbed them won’t come smash your windscreen one hot, summer evening.
If you live in a nation involved heavily in this apparent world conflict, the violence will reach your streets at some point. If that wasn’t an inevitability, council services would be ring-fenced and MI6 would bear the brunt of government cuts.
This isn’t scaremongering. I’m certainly not pointing the finger of blame of what happened in Woolwich on the soldiers who are in Iraq or Afghanistan, but if you are involved in military conflict you must expect an attempted retaliation. If the people you are fighting are not of a particular nation, and simply bombing targets doesn’t destroy them, then the question must be- how to stop yourself becoming a target, and how to stop those you fight recruiting more towards their cause?
There has to be a huge step-change towards something that resembles peace. Death, retaliation, death, retaliation, death is the current blueprint for the various sides of this “War On Terror”. Nuclear weapons were devised to end that blueprint on the battlefield. Mutual destruction was the deterrent, and yet mutual destruction is where we appear to be tucking and rolling to. Not destruction of buildings and lands, but of the fabric of our society.
I’m not being all tree-hugging, woolly hat hippy here (I think), but have you ever heard anyone talk about a need to end the situation, rather than “we will not be defeated”? I’m not asking anyone to sit down with terrorists either, but there has to be an analysis by western governments, of what drives these men to their actions. It isn’t always just warped religious rhetoric.
A quick glimpse at social networking sites, would have you believe that they are doing this because they hate us, “Our Boys”, and our way of life, but want to live here and continue getting their benefit cheques by using Voodoo. It’s tucked away, seen only by those you add and trust to say it in front of, but fabric of our society I spoke of, is slowly coming apart at the seams.
Races don’t trust each other, people make outlandish claims about “no whites” on cafe doors, people post thinly-veiled racist comments because “you can’t say anything these days without being called a racist”. Integration and interaction is a key part of our society, and if that falls apart, with the work that has been done over decades to bring us together wasted, then we have a huge problem, because that will feed the problems that lead to these horrific acts.
I spent three months working in London in 2012. I always talk about it, my friends wind me up that I do it too much, and I probably do, However, for someone from Hull, a predominantly white ethnic city, I fell in love. It upheld all that was great about integration and a mixed society. All the things the right-wing hate, I embraced. Being on a tube and not hearing a single English word or accent was fantastic. The ideas of nations, and the world being far-flung, became somewhat out-dated with the invention of the jet engine. We really are a global community now.
The problem comes, when you have all that opportunity and all that integration, then inequality on its doorstep. The males in Woolwich were black males, born in Britain, then radicalised in Islam. The riots in 2011, were a big warning to the city of London on how the disadvantaged of her were feeling. If you continue to breed a group of angry young men, with no apparent future and a huge grudge against the men in suits that deplore them, someone will take them under their wing and show them a path. If you’re lucky, that someone will be a community leader that will point them away from knife crime and towards education. If you’re unlucky, it will be towards taking definitive action against an innocent man walking the streets in a t-shirt, that becomes a target on his back.
A key point from the video of one of the men, hands bloodied, cleaver drawn, has perhaps been missed. He states- “Your government doesn’t care about you. Do you think David Cameron will be here when we start bussin’ (sic) our guns on the streets? Remove them”. Everyone I know is angry with government. Not just this one (although they are a key player), but the whole structure that allows them to fiddle expenses, increase their pay, cut our pay and start wars that people are against. That anger, if allowed to simmer too long, will boil over into something you don’t want it to.
Innocent people die on our streets as a result of terrorism due to a predominant factor- the actions of our governments. It is they that send these young men from the north to fight for us. People are angry that troops are criticised for their part in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but I don’t think that’s it. I think people are just frustrated that these men are sent to die for what appears to be a senseless cause. The truly admirable trait of the armed services, is that they will serve their country without question. Those who want peace may hate that statement, but I don’t think there are that many maniacs in the army that sincerely love to kill, no matter how noble the cause.
So if we are to draw back from this brink, from this situation that sees communities looking to turn on one another, from killing that begets killing, from the terror of far-away lands becoming terror on our streets and from the young, disenfranchised of our nation being turned against it and its government, we must stop the global cycle of violence.
It’s the reverse of most problem solving tactics. Don’t start on the street level, start on the wider stage. Don’t give these men the tools to distort Islam for their murderous gains. Then you can begin to win hearts and minds in communities both here and on foreign shores.
Until the day that guns are laid down, unless for causes that are clearly defined or supported, and which don’t cause countless deaths of civilians, it will be difficult to stop these men trying to slay a young father, who is not even a cog in the huge wheel that bred his killers.
No hippy utopia, no sitting in a wigwam talking space and time, just step back from the killing, everyone. You will find, it becomes easier to appease your enemy when you aren’t killing their sons and daughters. That applies to all parties in this supposed war.
RIP Lee Rigby, and every human being killed in this tawdry conflict, that stains the history of our great planet.
Paul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff