Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Yes, there is an enemy, but it is ourselves

In the aftermath of the Paris (and Beirut and whichever atrocity came before or which will come afterwards) attacks there will be predictable and understandable condemnation of the terrorists and resolve to overcome them wherever they and their poison appear - on the battlefield, on the internet, in the communities in which we live. And we will once again mourn the irreplaceable loss of those who have died and have compassion for those who live whose lives have been devastated by violence and hatred. But . . .

It doesn't matter where this picture was taken
- it represents every act of violence worldwide:
the source was globalpost.com
Let us recognise that the root cause of terrorism is not religion or politics but an over-populated world where too many young people have no meaningful future. As the years pass, populations grow, climate change worsens and resources grow more scarce, we will continue to turn on each other like rats in an overcrowded cage, where politics and religion are the rationale but not the underlying cause of violence. These events will occur again and again against a backdrop of mass migration resulting from too many people fighting for too little unproductive land.

Nothing said or done by Cameron or Obama or Hollande on the one hand or by the terrorists on the other can change this basic fact. Terrorism may be carried out in the name of religion, but it is driven by despair - despair that lives are meaningless accompanied by the belief that only destruction, of other lives and our own, gives us back some form of meaning. For those of us lucky enough to live in small communities on the edges of continents where life gives us some pleasures, the waves of destruction are likely to be muted. The rest of us, in crowded cities where thousands of new faces arrive each year, all striving for somewhere to live, for work that rewards us and for a partner to share our home with, face an increasingly uncertain and unpleasant future.

This apocalyptic view may seem exaggerated, unlikely and unusual for those with a short view of history, but since we humans first evolved from lesser primates until as late as the nineteenth century, our lives have been dominated by violence, fear and hunger. We are merely returning to the state of uncertainty in which most animals live; the only difference is that today more than ever we are conscious of what is happening to us and we have the imagination to fool ourselves that there is an enemy that we can overcome. Yes, there is an enemy, but it is ourselves - we created the over-crowded, soon-to-be-impoverished world in which we are living; that world gave back to us the nihilists who devastated Paris on Friday evening.