It has been an eventful couple to say the least. Since that fateful Saturday my Facebook feed has been the victim of the Post-Paris Apocalypse. It’s as if the terrorists attacked every city and town in the U.S. and Australia (where I live) as well and people are going virtually nuts, turning on their neighbours, burning bridges and loosing all sense of proportionality and good will.
It would take years to process every, tweet, post, meme and article that is being churned out. Some of it is serious, a lot of it is just click-bait (at least 50% from certain US Republican candidates). I am just providing a simple overview of some of the chatter that various social media algorithms brought to my attention… hopefully I will provide a different take than the usual shrieking about evil Muslims and feral racists.
“This is unacceptable. The M.I.L.F. rejects such acts of terror against humanity and all peace-loving peoples,” the rebel group said in a public statement issued over the weekend… and condemned the simultaneous attacks on France as “blind, indiscriminate.”
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (M.I.L.F)
This 40-year-old Filipino rebel group (with an unfortunate anachronym) has recently signed a peace treaty with the Filipino Government and has actively rejected Islamic jihad-type terrorism. Not all Muslims, even Muslim rebels are like Islamic State. Kudos to Kicker Daily News who reported it.
Another honourable mention to Quartz for this article. Featuring statements from Iranian President, Hasan Rouhani to Moroccan youtubers it provides a fascinating snapshot of the fact that I shared many of the impulses of many Muslims, to pray for the victims and for peace.
For words from the horse’s mouth, have a read of this article too.
Third and final honourable mention: one of my favourite bloggers (I kind of secretly want to be her when I grow up).
If your heart has been moved at the plight of the Syrian refugees, whatever else you do, you should pray for them.
If you’re frustrated that none of your friends seem to understand that refugees are as human as any American family, and are afraid of the same enemy we’re afraid of, then you should pray for your friends.
If you’re afraid of infiltrators from Daesh, you should pray for them.
If you’re frustrated that none of your friends seem to understand that there is a real danger in exposing ourselves to infiltration by murderous Daesh terrorists, you should pray for your friends.
The Paris Attack came at a very unfortunate time, right after the US government announced that it would be taking in 100,000 Syrian refugees and cue the click-bait hysteria about infiltrating terrorists. Ignorance and fear stemming from such ignorance abounds, and the answer: Just pray.*
If you think Muslims are all terrorists, you should pray for them.
If you think Muslims are peace-loving victims, you should pray for them.
If you think Muslims should be doing more to denounce terrorists, you should pray for them.
If you think non-Muslims should be doing more to fight discrimination against Muslims, you should pray for them.
If you are irritated and disheartened beyond belief by the squabbling and name-calling and hyperbole you see on social media, then you should pray for every single person involved.
And pray for yourself. Pray that God will give you peace and wisdom, and the courage to respond however He wants us to respond, to people we fear, people we despise, people we disagree with, and people we can’t stand.
This kept me from embarking on a one-woman-war against idiotic keyboard warriors as Facebook so continuously tempts me to do so. This kept me from saying uncharitable things. Can’t say I succeeded perfectly, but, thank you Simcha, for reminding me to think before I open my mouth and keyboard smash.
*If you are not inclined to pray, then channel your positive energy to the universe, practice mindful compassion, do some research and inform yourself of the present situation (You can start here). Whatever makes you a better informed, more compassionate and common-sensical person… do it.
Or ‘things that provided the most temptation for me to be a first-class-keyboard-warrior-jerk’.
Donald Trumps new stance on religious persecution: Solve Islamist Terrorism by CLOSING MOSQUES. Yeah. Because banning a religion always has the effect of eliminating its existence. Just as the Romans, the Seleucid Greeks, or the Soviets… Oh wait. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all still exist. Long story short… the best way to make life difficult for the honest, hardworking and charitable Muslims is Trump’s idiocy. Anyone who knows anything about IS is that they WANT Muslims to come to them, they want them to be unhappy in the Western World so that they can bring them to their ‘glorious’ new caliphate. Well done Mr Trump, if you were President of the not-so-free-any more world, you would have officially proven yourself (again) an idiotic strategist, akin to Napoleon thinking he could take Russia in the winter.
The silly argument about what to call that ‘crazy’ group running a pseudo-state in what was Syria and Iraq also deserves a dishonourable mention. It was distracting and pointless. IS (Yes, I will keep calling them Islamic State) do not give two flying pigs what we call them. Daesh is not offensive to them and referring to them as Islamic State does not necessarily endorse their state-building project, but acknowledges the reality. They are a pseudo-state, and a very fragile one at that. See more from this article.
Why the best thing we can do is shut up
Because, as Dr Matthew Tan so pithily points out, chatter, babble and idle talk are what the hopeless do. Social media especially and the internet is full of meaningless, thoughtless verbal aggression in times of crisis enabled by the anonymity and sheer volume of voices of the internet.
What is a Christian or person of goodwill, compassion and humanity to do in the face of the tsunami of nattering and nastiness that accompanies such acts of violence, destruction and human tragedy?
For the love of God, don’t add to it! Shut your trap, switch off the TV, log out of Facebook, and ignore twitter for a week. Silence is an essential part of good, fruitful and healthy communication. It is only in silence that we can listen to the other, we can hear ourselves think and respond with charity and clarity.
In our ridiculous 24/7 news cycle, silence is more precious than ever before. This is why I haven’t posted this till now. Silence is what enables us to be compassionate, sane and hopeful human beings. I think we should demand more of it, especially in the face of tragedy and evil. The internet, social media and the world would be a better place if everyone would shut up for a minute.
Photo Credit : fdecomite on Flickr