If you turn on the TV to watch the news, I can completely understand why you might quite literally think that the world is falling apart. We are bombarded on daily basis with terrorist attacks, attacks which cause terror but aren’t labelled ‘terrorism’, Donald Trump supposedly making America great again, and friction in the European Union becoming more deep-seated– the list goes on. But is any of this really news?
A graph created by Statistia for the Huffington post shows that in fact the number of fatalities from terrorists attacks in Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s sum up to considerably more than those killed between 1990 and 2015. Yet people still seem to believe that things have never been this bad, that the world has reached a point of no return. Perhaps our historical perspective might just be a little bit distorted.
One only has to think back to the fact that the Holocaust, one of the biggest atrocities of human being’s history, was committed in the 20th century to realise that perhaps this rise of terrorism is not much more than a revival of a dark time in history, when various political groups thought it acceptable to massacre thousands of innocent people. Not much has changed today. Although ISIS and many similar groups may be ‘religious’ by name, the birth of these groups and the way in it which they have been continually sustained has very little to do with religious endeavours and much to do about politics and the power tug-of-war. Put into context, perhaps that golden age is much more further out of reach than we first thought– perhaps it never existed to start with.
If you still aren’t convinced that things aren’t as bad as the media makes out to be, then you only have to put all of this into perspective with terrorist attack carried out in other parts of the world. Since the beginning of 2015, Africa, Asia and the Middle East have experienced almost 50 times more deaths from terrorist attacks than both Europe and America. Between 2001 and 2014 Iraq had seen one of the worst period of terrorism with over 40,000 people dying. In that same period, over 100,000 people were killed worldwide due to terrorist attacks, of which 420 deaths occurred in Western Europe. So if we really want to denounce terrorism, we first need to broadened our scope much farther than the shocks just felt at home, and if we really want to ‘pray’ for the European cities trouble-ridden with terrorism, we ought to start including all those other places in our prayers too.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be concerned or don’t have the right to fear terrorism. Of course we should not just sit back and accept these terrorist attacks as the new norm. If anything, I think it’s important to acknowledge the past history of terrorism, and with the lessons which we’ve (hopefully) learnt, find an effective way to deal with it– one which doesn’t simply including feeding more terrorism abroad, because we all know how that ends.
If you’ve taken anything from this at all, I would like it to be this, to ask yourselves: who benefits from my fear?