A Matter of Words | When The Iris Burns

It’s an epidemic of savagery that we’re going to lose against.

This tapestry is an expanded version of my article in The Tribune, available here: http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/9270820

 

At this point in time, I am too exhausted to be angry. I punched a wall after Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. I swore and kicked a door after Ankara. And I’ve been at a loss for words for over a day since Brussels.

 

What do you say? What can you say?

 

At best you can utter a ‘Hope you’re safe!’ and a ‘Take care’ before slumping back, engulfed by the thought of what is going on and why this is going on.

 

It’s an epidemic of savagery. And we’re just standing by. All the twitters, posts, profile picture changes, Instagram uploads, and prayers have and will do nothing. They’re simply methods for people to insert themselves into the situation and feel good about themselves – because there is nothing they can do.

 

What pisses me off even more is the fact that people will change their colours for Paris and Brussels but once you begin to move east, the rhetoric completely changes.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in Brussels. It’s home for me. And I’m devastated. And I know Brussels will come out of this stronger. But there are peoples and nations in worse situations that need our support. This whole scenario is dripping with hypocrisy. Understood, Brussels and Paris appear much closer to home than Ankara or Beirut or Baghdad. But tell me honestly; is there a difference in the value of the life of a Belgian and an Iraqi?

 

Granted, it is not every day that you hear of such an attack in countries like France and Belgium. The media has you dismissing such incidents in and around the Middle East as common. And that is dangerous.

 

The immediate response is: “Oh, air strikes will take care of that.”

 

It is this exact perspective of social supremacy that is disgusting and dangerous.

 

And you may ask: “Where were you? Why did you write an article about Brussels and not Ankara or Baghdad or Beirut?”

 

I have friends across the globe. Paris had me worried sick, messaging and calling, hoping they were safe. Such was the same with Ankara. And now that my home was burnt, I am again trying to say the same thing I have said over and over.

 

A friend from Ankara said to me: “We’re always saying that ‘I was lucky this time’ but we can be the next.”

 

I am lucky that everyone I know is safe. But I have had enough of standing by. Don’t get me wrong. I will always be there to support those wrongfully affected.

 

And I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Ankara. I’m sorry, Baghdad. I’m sorry, Beirut.

 

I’m sorry that you’re suffering from the ignorance of the world. I’m sorry there aren’t enough people standing by you and standing up for you.

 

It does not matter any more who or what resulted in the opening of this Pandora’s Box. But it matters who continues to hold back Hope. And at this moment, we all are holding it back.

 

When I contacted friends and family, this was the picture I was provided:

 

Imagine waking up to sirens and helicopters, with the entire morning commanded by those sounds. You’re both shocked and relieved because friends, family, and you, frequent Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek station. Explosive devices are still being found. The number of casualties and injuries is rising. And you’re not sure if it’s all over.

 

Now imagine that this was your daily experience and that everyone was trying to escape.

 

I am pleading with you. Solidarity and war isn’t going to tackle extremism.

 

And this dismissing needs to stop.

 

How much more standing by are we going to do? When do we start standing up?

 

I will not entertain the question of how much can we do.

 

What can we do? What can we say?

 

I’m a guy whose home was burned, and I have one thing to say:

 

Fighting fire with fire is not the answer. Nations want to go to war? Make the pen your weapon. Then watch how ink spilled intelligently subdues this poison.

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