Please forgive me for lumping together the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with this year’s (2016) terrorist attacks in Europe, North Africa, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. But the news is all gloom and history has a way of catching up with us. I use the term terrorist and war loosely, and may be criticized-but death is death and the slaughter of innocent people is just that: slaughter of the innocence. The battles fields of Europe, Asia, the Middle East are often lumped together as historical manifestations of past wrongs (with blame shifting according to different interpretations) and we feel somewhat removed from these tragedies; but cafes, schools, movie theatre , airports, beaches, night clubs – the places where we go to celebrate the joy and happiness of life have become the battlegrounds of the 21st century.
The sullied; those driven by an evil nihilist ideology and a hate for life and an extreme odious revulsion for the simple delight and exhilaration of others kill for pleasure.
May be all war is like this? Historians will disagree-explaining in minutia the causes and effects, actors etc…and rightly so; but for me it is the consequences of this madness which affects me.
I’ve traveled to 40 countries of the work, lived and worked in 9 countries, including 14 years within Islamic humanity, and in a variety of different cultural contexts. I’ve always met engaging, hospitable, kind and welcoming people who have grown numb with the incredulity of the madness of the death cults enveloping the planet and claiming allegiance to Islam.
People sitting in a café enjoying camaraderie and banter are slaughtered in the most perfidious and unimaginable way including a 33 year old woman, 7 months pregnant, working in a country where aid is desperately needed and providing that aid. In Baghdad ordinary people enjoying their recreation during the Holy month of Ramadan, chatting imbibing refreshment before beginning their fast are blown up by madmen. In Lahore families enjoying a Sunday out together a blown up. Men and women in a night club are gunned down, and people celebrating Christmas are shot and killed. Young police cadets deciding to serve their county are slaughtered by those old enough to be their fathers. What is this insanity? What hope for humanity?
The Unreturning by Wilfred Owen
Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.
There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled,
And never one fared back to me or spoke.
Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering Wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.
For those slain though this lunacy may you rest in peace- because the living are not.