I was fourteen years old when my attention, for the very first time in my life, was entirely consumed by horrific images that, I realized then already, would constitute a dark page in recent history. “This could be war…” I shivered when I heard these words coming from the mouth of my father who, to my opinion, is neither a lightheaded oracle nor a man who takes a habit in ponderous proclamations. But for every fair-minded individual in the room it was clear to see that the act of thrusting passenger airliners through symbols of Western power would set in motion a world mechanism of violence, leading to senseless destruction and a multitude more lives to be abruptly ended. One of the invisible hand’s fingers was powerfully hit by a small, yet dangerously precise, claw hammer. The hand bled, and the world would bleed along.
Ideas, passion, sex and money
Almost fourteen years later I find myself sitting in Paris, reading a textbook on public law, peeking outside at the grey garden and a sterile January sky. In the middle of a reflection on democracy, fundamental freedoms and human rights, I was disturbed by a French student who nervously approached my table. I soon found out the reason for her anxiousness. Barbarous gunmen, exclaiming hatred while unaccountably raping religion, assaulted a satirical magazine in the capital that once was the epicentre of the civil liberties revolution. As a young economist, slowly but surely aging, I take pleasure in using sarcastic humour to describe the days I am living in. As far as I can remember, I can only recall being in some kind of recession, downturn or economic crisis. What despairs me, instead, is the thought of living in days of terror where the lives of men, women and children seem to be reduced to their medieval, classical and perhaps even prehistoric worth.
We will, most likely, never know the exact motives of the hijackers, gunmen or executioners that all seem so eager to fill our screens with bloodshed. We will, certainly, never know all the details behind most preventive and repressive actions of our governments. Most of us spend our lives as mere spectators, largely unfamiliar with the underlying forces at play, only taking accidental snapshots of special effects or diversions. And it is only when an axe swings out of the arena and hits the nearby seat that we seem to take a brief closer look at what we are sheering or ignoring. As one wonders about the most dangerous weapons that can spiral out of control, in our days, it is easy to think about nukes or bio-chemical equivalents. I believe, however, that this modern arsenal should be preceded, in order of superiority, by ideas, passion, sex and money – all of which possessing a strong track record throughout the ages. What is frightening is that at least three of these weapons of mass destruction can be easily picked up by anyone, at anytime, anywhere.
Getting away with ignorance
Why are we under attack? Does our society deserve this kind of brutal treatment? Who are we really doing injustice to? An exhaustive answer to these questions will include historical conflicts, modern geo-politics, corporate dominance and disillusioned generations. A simpler answer would be: the poor. We are not attacked because of acts of our grandfathers or great-grandfathers. We are not attacked because we claim petroleum. We are not attacked because we exploit labour and destroy ecosystems. We are not attacked because our society does not stroke with Muslim values and beliefs. We are under attack because we are welfare racists. Our politically correct, democratic society does not discriminate between Christian, Jew or Muslim poor. Instead, we just discriminate between the rich world and the poor world. 12 French citizens killed by heavy machine guns in one day get more attention than thousands of children in Africa who are, each day, silently sniped by poverty. Throughout history, we used to get away with this kind of ignorance. In fact, we were even able to write our own version of history. The telecommunications revolution, however, rapidly ends the ages of centralized power. The developing world is tapping into the mainstream, and the ultimate poor eager for their legitimate part, through cooperation if they can, through conflict if they must. Terrorism is but the lethal parasite that hides in severely deprived communities and feeds on infinitely disappointed individuals.
I do not, in any way, approve, understand or depreciate acts of terrorism. I strongly condemn senseless murder and criminals, both on stage and backstage, should be brought to justice. I only ask myself how long we can still put up our ancient charade of welfare racism. I believe it is time for genuine prophets to stand up again and peacefully enforce equal rights on prosperity and the pursuit of happiness for every newborn on Earth. The mission of the next Martin, Nelson or Mahatma is to spread fair economics on a crowded planet with finite resources, thereby burning the breading ground for polarisation. This could be war…but, instead, I have a dream.