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How do we respond?

Eiffelturm bei Nacht. / Eiffel Tower at Night.

This is a question that is on almost everyone’s mind following the horrific attacks on Paris last weekend. It’s a question that most people can’t answer, and neither can I. I will, however, try to make the best sense of what happened.

Some gunmen attacked Paris, and left over 150 dead and over 300 wounded. I remember the sense of horror and confusion that I felt at the time of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Yet, during the time of the attacks, I was over two hundred kilometres away from Mumbai, safe in the city of Nashik.

With any terrorist attack, there is always the spectacle, the theatrics that are the scariest. Ten people with guns caught an entire country off-guard for three days. Three days of not knowing how many people were responsible, or why we were attacked. And so, I can empathise with the people in Paris.

I may be speaking from a position of privilege here, and I really don’t know how it feels to be a person who has lost a loved one to a senseless attack, but I’ve become increasingly convinced that the only way to fight terror is through our response to terror. A number of people have already said in words better than I can explain that the only way to fight terror is not to be terrorised. To the victims of attacks, this may sound hollow and meaningless, but these people do raise a valid point.

For what has our response been to terrorist attacks in the past? Digvijay Singh used it to stir up communal hatred in a time when the country needed to come together. The United States used this as an excuse to spy on everyone in the world. Politicians use it as an excuse to do whatever they want.

And so it has been after the Paris attacks as well. Already, we see a push to blame refugees, who are fleeing the same horror that Paris experienced. People want to score brownie points by criticising Facebook for enabling its ‘security check’ feature. And politicians, yet again, have decided to use this as an opportunity to push for pervasive, Orwellian surveillance.

The only thing I’m sure of right now is that we must not lose our minds because of a few demented people. In a sense, the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ had it right all along.

I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

I know that dry statistics do nothing to ease those who have lost loved ones. But think about this: just yesterday, an estimated 3,000 people died in car accidents in the world. I don’t have numbers for people who died due to gun violence or killed themselves. And yet, a staged barbaric act causes us to act in such an irrational manner that we play right into the hands of the perpetrators. Let’s not do that any more.

This post has been a rather incoherent dump of the number of thoughts that are going through my head right now, but only one sentiment is important: My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Paris.


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