Nice Truck incident is not terror, this is murder

Words fail when attempting to express the horror inflicted on men women and children going about their happy celebrations in Nice on the evening of the 14th July 2016.


We have grown accustomed to incidents of this kind. France has had its share, Charlie Hebdo, The Bataclan, and now Nice can be added to the woeful list. But so also have communities across the world.  We in the west are naturally inclined to pay more attention when these acts occur in our own part of the world, most of us have been to these places, we have walked the streets, relaxed in the cafes, we know people there, but horror of this sort is almost daily inflicted upon innocent people somewhere in the world and it must be deplored whenever and wherever it occurs and whatever the purported justification.

To call misguided deeds like these “acts of terrorism” gives them some cloak of common identity which tends to set them in a class apart.  It is not that terrorism, whatever its basis, can ever hide its ugly activities under anything resembling a cloak of respectability.  But the use of the word “terrorism” suggests a cause, however misguided, and, under the cloak of a cause, misguided people can be persuaded to embark upon the most dreadful actions which, left to their own devices, they might never even contemplate.

It is time to name this barbarism for what it is, murder, slaughter, massacre, butchery, carnage, mayhem, anarchy, bedlam, turmoil, chaos, pandemonium, hatred, violence, viciousness, and to treat the people who act in this way, not as terrorists acting under some imagined banner, but as the simple murderers which they are.


Every one of these awful events challenges all to redouble our efforts to create a world which honours and celebrates our common humanity.  The maxim “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a rule of behaviour common to people of all philosophical persuasions, a golden rule running though all religions and breaking down all superficial differences.   We need to work to promote that golden rule, beginning with the daily actions of each one of us and working especially to make this golden rule a motto that is understood and agreed by all, above all by the young people upon whom the greater good of our world so much depends.



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The Chilling Chilcot Report

And we ask why extremists hijack planes and fly them into our western towers, why suicide bombers blow themselves, and us, to kingdom come as we travel in our buses and on our metro systems.

Seven and a half years in the making, six and a half million words, a damning indictment of UK military action against Iraq

Apologies to the distraught relatives of 200 UK military killed in the operation and rightly so. But for every UK death you see a hundred or more Iraqis dead, many, most of them,  civilians. And for every Iraqi casualty of this misguided intervention another terrorist sympathiser born.

We see the imperial power temporarily glow in the recall of its former glory and unquestioningly tie itself to the shoestrings of a world policeman intent on a “war on terror” but never asking the question “Why do these people hate us so much?”

Imperialism breeds resentment and hatred and produces a response which we call terror.  Every bomb dropped leaves people remembering and many of them determined to seek revenge.

And remembrance can be long, so very long.  You only have to look at the inscriptions our western war graves “From the rising of the sun to its setting we will remember them” to realise how long it will take before people forget and forgive.

And it is not as if the public did not try to call a halt before this disastrous war was unleashed.  Recall the marches, worldwide, the millions of people who cried “halt” and who were ignored.

And what now?  A heartfelt apology, to say the least, unconditional compensation in terms of rebuilding lost lives.  But how long and how much will it take before a devastated people forgive?

When will we in the West learn to allow other people to select their own leaders and political systems and to sort out their own issues about “regime change”?  For too long we have attempted to rule and exploit the world for our own purposes.

Above all, we need a determination “Never again” and written large the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding”

Tony – 7 July 2016



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ISIS executions of gay men

I read with horror and disgust details of the latest ISIS killing, the hurling of a gay man from the top of a seven story building. This does not appear to have ended the physical and mental torture of the unfortunate individual whose life was finally ended by stoning on the ground below.  All this is reported as conducted in the presence of a watching crowd, children among them.

This is just the latest in a series of ISIS atrocities involving not only the killing of gay men but the public execution of so many others, aid workers, journalists, military personnel and civilians alike, men women and children.

How can we get inside the minds of people who are capable of this type of barbarity, something which we imagine is long lost in the mists of history?

Looking to the latest killing I believe that people who show such hatred of gay people must themselves carry a deep seated fear of their own sexual orientation.  We abhor in others the tendencies that we most abhor in ourselves.

This fear comes from a number of sources.  In the first place it must be based on a primitive instinct that our only purpose in this world must be to procreate the species.  This idea must surely yield to the findings of modern psychology which form the basis of our present day understanding of the human mind.   It is secondly supported by ancient religious texts such as the book of Leviticus. But those who follow blindly the precepts of that writer conveniently put to one side his other admonitions.  Here are a few of them:

You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. (Lev. 19:27)

You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material. (Lev. 19:19)

But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. (Lev. 11-10)

Both your male and female slaves, whom you shall have, shall be of the nations that are round about you; of them shall you buy male and female slaves. (Lev. 25-45)

It has to be admitted that colonial and western interference in the Middle East and elsewhere has given rise to resentment and hatred.  The so called “war on terror” has unleashed far more and more widespread terror than existed previously.

Thich Nhat Hanh the Buddhist monk who has worked tirelessly for peace all his life wisely asked this question following the 9/11 attack: If I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid. I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely and trust that they are really being heard.

So what to do about ISIS?

It is hard to imagine that a violent response can ever eliminate a violent group and those who will be added to their supporters in response to violence.  So there must somehow be dialogue.   It was hard to believe that dialogue might end the tragedy that was Northern Ireland and which claimed over 3,000 victims, not to mention the physically and psychologically wounded, in the last decades of the 20th Century, but dialogue did succeed there and it can and must succeed elsewhere.

Somehow, sometime, someone must initiate a dialogue which will bring understanding and compassion into the hearts of people who continue to cause pain and suffering to others.  If they could walk in our shoes and we in theirs we would see that all of us are seekers of love and happiness.  But love and happiness elude us all in world of violence

There are seeds of inspiring goodness and unspeakable evil lying dormant deep within each one of us. Spiritual writers urge us to water the weeds of goodness in one another and the let the other seeds die for want of support.  Every day gives us the opportunity to do one or the other. So in respect of both these terrifying executioners and their hapless victims we can truly say There but for the grace of God go I.


Tony – 1 August 2015


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