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Exceptions – Woolwich

I am not about to wade in with a half-measured opinion about the harrowing events of this week. Instead, I am more interested in opening a real discussion about the deeper issues that go past the mere description of the actions of two sociopathic individuals. What I really want to understand is not what happened, but the wider reaction to it from normal people – because that is where the debate and ignorance really lies.

The most important question that I want to answer is why we equate terrorism with religion? It seems that more and more, as attacks and horrible events occur, we seem to jump to the conclusion that it must be down to a religious fanatic? And we tend to place the blame on more monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam – as if those who hold these beliefs are collectively at fault for the actions of a select few. I am not saying that we all harbour extreme prejudice, but I will argue, that for a split second, even if it is just an instinct, when we hear the word ‘terrorist’, do we not think of ‘(religious) extremist’?

I am no conspiracy theorist, but there seems to be serious issues with the way in which these incidents are reported. One of things that infuriated me was the way in which Nick Robinson, political editor on the BBC, referred to the perpetrators as of “Muslim descendant” based on hearsay in Whitehall, rather than actual evidence which was accumulated hours later. It was bad journalism, and by all accounts, he should have known better. There was absolutely no reason to further perpetuate the stereotype, even if he claimed that it was based on a reliable source – it was wrong.

But does that open up the real prejudices that lie just beneath the surface? It seems like we don’t even know what terrorism is anymore. Terrorism is the use of violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The fact that we look to dive into the religious motivations of these idiots may be what they want us to do, but we should ignore it. We shouldn’t give them the satisfaction. When they tell us how the actions of our governments have made their lives and the lives of their ‘brothers and sisters’ intolerable, remind yourself that these people are isolated. When they tell us that we are killing innocent women and children, remember that you don’t have blood on your hands like they claim. When they tell us that they are killing in the name of their God, know that no God would condone murder in his/her name. Don’t buy into the theories of madness.

See them for who they truly are – disillusioned, violent, ignorant, stupid and most importantly, alone. They act alone and we should treat them as exceptions to the rule. Religious people are not in any way associated with terrorists, so don’t act out against them, otherwise you will be proving the excuses of the idiots that conduct these massacres. Violence begets more violence, hate begets more hate and death begets more death. Let’s stop making the same mistakes and start learning.

First Signs Of Madness

In the last few weeks, I have noticed that I have been talking to myself a lot more. Before you get excited, it doesn’t consist of me rambling under my breath in public with people glancing over and furiously walking in the other direction – it is more subtle than that. It is my inside voice trying to find its way out. I believe that everyone encounters it from time to time, whether it is in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling or standing alone in a bustling crowd.

Considering my life has curtailed due to the introduction of my final set of school exams, I have had a lot of time to myself and a lot of silence to bask in. At first, it was completely unnerving to be surrounded by the same four walls for hours on end, but as my mind inevitably started to wander, it became clear that this was a form of positive procrastination. For the past few months, burying my head in the sand has been the key to fuelling my determination to work. Putting all of my issues to one side, I have been able to keep my eye firmly focused on the future and where I want to be at in the next few years. But this isn’t healthy. It is easy for us to look at the road ahead with rose-tinted glasses, and neglect the fact that we can’t take a step towards it because we are wearing concrete shoes. What became abundantly clear was the fact that the obstacles that I am facing in the short term, will inevitably hinder that long term vision. And so unless I deal with what is going wrong now, I can’t hope to enjoy what goes right in the next few months.

But is this the first sign of madness? When I was playing badminton competitively, my coach used to constantly talk about ‘paralysis by over-analysis’ – what he meant by this was, a player could lose a match without their opponent hitting a shuttlecock, they could psyche themselves out. That is the dilemma that I feel like I am facing. Being cooped up in that room, and so far into my own mind, am I making mountains out of molehills? I was speaking to someone yesterday, and they told me that I had achieved a lot for someone my age. That the future was going to be easy, because the foundation had already been built. But it just didn’t make sense to me.

I look at other people and I feel inadequate compared to them. They have achieved things that I only hope to get to, but I don’t see this as a bad thing – I see this as another finish line to run towards. The only downside to this is that contentment is always a stone’s throw away. In the same way, that I find it difficult to sit still, I feel it is unproductive that to stand still when it comes to moving forward with my life. So maybe being unhappy now is part of being happy in the future? But what if the future doesn’t come? I am still trying to work it out.