A single word: RESIST! As simple and difficult a solution as that.
Terrorists of all stripes seek to frighten, to impose their ideas by fear, terror. Beheadings on the Internet, planes into the World Trade Center, and now massacre in the editorial boardroom of Charlie Hebdo. Not to mention kidnappings, torture, rapes, and remote bombings through rockets or drones.
First of all, we must help the victims and arrest the suspects to be judged in a court of law, quite obviously. And then, we must minimize the risk of further attacks because the necessary support of citizens will not be possible unless they feel reassured.
But beyond this minimum of justice and security, how to deal with this increasingly multifaceted and borderless terrorist threat? If this horrible attack against satirical journalists and cartoonists is clearly an attack against freedom of expression and democracy, can we afford to call it a “declaration of war”, as some have not hesitated to do? Because how do we spontaneously respond to any declaration of war? All too often, alas, by the Pavlovian response of “going to war”! And it is precisely, in my opinion, the last thing to do!
And why not declare war on these “barbarians”, these “enemies of humanity”?
- First, because it would give them reason: they do want war to impose their views and they would have managed to drag us onto their turf.
- Moreover, because it would have us use the same means (violence, repression, torture) that we condemn, in violation of the principles we claim to defend as our most precious values (human rights, rule of law, freedom, democracy).
- But above all, because war and violence have never been a true and lasting solution to the problems, violence or wars they pretended to solve (and recent History cannot provide more conclusive evidence: look at our most recent three “victorious” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya!).
Does it mean keeping passive and waiting for better days? Of course not! TO RESIST is the exact opposite of passivity, as, properly understood, nonviolence has always been. TO RESIST means providing ourselves the capacity of standing tall, together, united and fearless. TO RESIST means going on with our lives without letting our attitudes and choices be dictated by this very fear that terrorists want to impose. TO RESIST also means resisting our desires for revenge, easy shortcuts and amalgams, looking for scapegoats. Because TO RESIST means, above all, being able to stay open to the other, to build bridges rather than barriers, to love instead of to hate. Yes, learn how to love the other, the different, the Muslim. Because no other solution than love, in the most demanding and profound sense, can ever effectively respond to the horror.
– Dominique Boisvert