In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris that unfolded over the last few days, there has been no #illridewithyou* type of response. Cartoons have been drawn and pieces written about how free speech will beat the gun (a topic for another day). There’s been a great deal of talk about threats, and war, and “these people don’t deserve to live”. And if we frame it like that, they have already won. They want you to hate them, because that justifies the retribution of the generation that is even now preparing its attacks against us.
I prefer to ask what drove them to that place. I prefer to ask how we can use such a tragedy for the greater good. I prefer to consider, not just how we can stop this from happening again (because we can’t), but how we can respond to it better.
These people cannot take away our dignity and our humanity unless we give it to them. Yes, we should understand that the threat is very real. No, we should not allow that to drive a wedge into our society. There is only one way we can address this problem.
*#illridewithyou was the hashtag that emerged from the hostage situation in Australia late last year. People volunteered to ride on public transport with Muslims so that they would not need to fear being victimised in the aftermath.
**I use the terms us and them with regret.