This morning London time four bombs, three in the Underground, and one on a tour bus went off, killing at least 37 and injuring over 700. A European offshot of Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility. I was listening to CBC radio during the day as reports came in from eyewitnesses and politicians. Several things went through my mind. The first was shock. Senseless violence (how's that for a redundancy) always shocks me. My heart goes out to all those families and the citizens of London who have been affected by this tragedy.
The people who undertook this endeavour are not heroes of any kind. They are murderers and powermongers, and I very much hope that they will be brought to justice through legal means. They have killed innocent people, and probably only served to aggravate the cycle of violence. They have drawn attention away from the G8 Summit which thanks to Live 8 had the attention of the world focussed on it.
The temptation among some may be to respond in kind. Some would be tempted to do so out of self interest, such as the militaristic regime in the US. However, many will want to out of anger. I would strongly advise against that action. That is exactly what the terrorists want. They don't want us to stop, as Bush and Blair suggest. They want us to respond in kind and bring us one step closer to an all out war. In fact I would speculate that they are counting on it because of the nature of the Bush regime.
What I would like to is for people to stand up and take a stand against violence. Take a stand against extremism, against fundamentalism, against fascism, regardless of it's country of origin, regardless of it's motivation.
I want to quote something my net pal Andrea Valois from Hamilton said about the ethics of violence, a thought which I have been thinking myself for many years:
...to fight violence with violence is to condone the first act of violence because you are playing by the same rules. did that make sense? if someone is violent to you and you respond by being violent back to them, essentially you are confirming that violence is an appropriate course of action and you give the green light for further violence. and in the end, you lose because you end up playing by the same rules as the person who harmed you in the first place. but to engage in the 'moral jiu jitzu' of nonviolence is to change the rules entirely, thereby giving you the upperhand and the advantage in the conflict. violence is undoubtedly a cycle and eventually, someone needs to be the bigger person and put an end to it.
When are we as a species going to learn that violence begets violence, and that it only takes one to stop?
Though the terrorist acts in London today are unustifyable, at the same time I believe it is important to understand root causes. Terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. Conservatives may dismiss that viewpoint as coddling terrorists, but I believe it's actually much more realistic than playing global cowboy.
While I'm at it, I would also send my heart out to the thousands who will die of starvation in Africa today, and the estimated 100,000 who have been killed in Iraq, and furthermore to all who die unecesarily due to violence, whether it be physical or economic.