We watch as a multitude of headlines dissolve into BREAKING HEADLINE. The world seems to stop for a moment as we listen together. This is new news and old news all at the same time.
A scene of destruction covered by reporters running amok on the streets, wielding cameras and drenched microphones, collecting fragments of hysteria and heartbreak like points on Fallout 4. Hearts and faces sink worldwide as the number of dead sees a slow and steady rise. The stream of information grows from mere mist of speculation to the concrete delivery of facts and place names. Live footage blurring the boundary between latest action blockbuster release and reality. Paris. Again. Another one to add to the tally chart. Charlie Hebdo, Australia, Syria, Beirut and Egypt. Countless more un-reported. A year so tarnished by the stain of terrorism and we’re not even at the end of November, yet. A sip of tea, a sigh, a weary crack of the neck after a long day at work.
The phones are alive with the frenzy of panic as a hash-tag emerges, fights through the Kardashian traffic and goes on to spread like wildfire. #PrayForParis. Piers Morgan, Irvine Welsh and that guy from Breaking Bad pouring in with their 140 character sentiments. Outrage, disappointment, fear. The internet is all of these things and it is on fire.
Nostradamus didn’t see this coming but we did, yesterday and the day before that. It’s familiar and it’s been done before, a hallowed anniversary and minutes of silence. We carry on but we arm ourselves with phones in hand and earphones nestled so far into our skulls that we might forget. Forget to connect. We continue with our exams, house parties, agency work and consultations but with tentative glances directed at the stranger across on the Underground or the guy behind in the queue at the local cafe. You know, just in case. Among the busy and the bustling, a smile goes without reciprocation. We search for the face of danger everywhere and on everyone.
Well, not everyone.
‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour’ BUT not if he’s a terrorist. And this, according to a Daily Mail propaganda-consuming minority, is easy to spot. It’s a uniform that you can’t take off- that dark skin that clings to your bones beneath the shadows of a burka or the faint red tint of a Mecca-marked beard. You- yes, you. You are the poster figure of a warped world’s hatred. The product of an ignorant world’s ‘progress’. You will be persecuted and condemned and made to feel as though you’re taking the sanctions for the actions of merciless, monstrous beings with which you share nothing in common. And it seems the more civilised the West profess to be, the less so those in power prove themselves to be exemplary leaders of humanity. Because these leaders ought to be deconstructing this terrible stereotype. They ought to stop alienating the very people who form the foundation of their societies, who’ve supported the economy and culture and ideology of patriotism regardless of their skin colour or religious beliefs. And yet, in these times of disappointment, the reptiles in suits stack the dead like playing cards and, adorned with pokerfaces masterfully crafted at top-notch institutions, play the game of fear-mongering and finger-pointing as if it were Monopoly. ‘This is no time for politics’, a good friend noted online. Indeed, this is the time to be human.
Much like a family, we are united only in mourning. Divided by seas, tongues and flags. United by keyboards, pens and stamps. For all our differences, we share a universal capacity to feel. We share the commonality of humanity. And on certain days, we are forced together with the morbid slap of reality. It draws our heads from the clouds, offices and the deep immersion in Self. It draws us back to where we began- to the primitive base of feeling. To appreciating each and every sacred moment with loved ones, to expressing gratitude for the things we’ve experienced and have yet to come. To reaching out to strangers, offering them solace when their lives are blown apart for the sake of senseless brutality. To being unafraid of the darkness and the threat of terrorism by overcoming it with unity and strength in light.