A series from my art journal.
Turkey: Continuously under fire // France: The statue where a shrine was left for Paris & Nice victims // Syria: A UNESCO world heritage site destroyed by ISIS // Belgium: The building where a shrine was left for Brussels victims.
Modern history was my favourite subject in high school, because every class my teacher read us a chapter from a book about a certain time period, and as the term progressed so did the story. Week by week I learnt more about the oppressive dictatorship of Josef Stalin, American interventions (god damn, they interfered more times than Simon abrasively cuts off an X-Factor hopeful), and suffragette activism (and no, it was not all a singing fiesta like Mary Poppins suggests).
Enthralled in learning about the past lead me to wondering… What will people of the future learn about the people of now? What story will be spun about our lives? I can see the title for the textbook in my mind, and it’s not a particularly pretty one: An Era of Terrorism.
I can envision future students swiping their way through holographic slides (obvs we’ll be super technologically advanced by this time) written by historians trying to make meaning of the appalling acts of hate crime tainting our globe. Maybe students will gasp in horror reading that a truck was once driven through a crowd of civilians celebrating Bastille Day, bombs exploded in Belgium airports while sieges occurred in innocent settings like Sydney Lindt cafes. Or, will students look up from their holographs and be surprised to find that nothing has changed (apart from living underwater of course, going off of Busted’s Year 3000)?
It’s HUGELY important that the topic of terrorism, however unsettling, becomes a familiar conversation in young people’s lives, because it affects such a large scope of people. As a teen myself, I know how increasingly difficult it is to grasp an understanding of the whole enormous topic, so let’s fill in those blanks.
Firstly, it’s significant to note that my friends’ opinions on the terrorism issue differ wildly from those of my grandparents, so it’s pretty apparent that a generational shift in thought is at hand. Who knows whether this is because we’ve been brought up studying social movements outlining just how dishonourable it is to pay undue attention to race, nationality, religion or sexuality, or because being born into a fairly integrated community means we never questioned our friendships. Either way, it can be tough harbouring opinions which don’t align with the people who generally influence our trains of thought, so it’s imperative us millennials stick to our guts.
What is our generation’s thrivin’ and survivin’ attitude, you ask? The answer: Advocating to move as far away from hate as is humanly possible, and not just because that’s all oh so grand and marvellous, but because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. Riddled with inherent fear, the public are desperately seeking something, anything, to pour their confusion and anger into. In the spotlight: the Islamic community.
Just because an extremist militant group known as ISIS are turning our snow globe of a world upside down, does not mean that every Muslim practicing Islam is helping to shake the glass. For one thing, Muslims in Australia practice a pure religion much, much older than Gameboys and slinkies (stuff of legends), whilst it appears that ISIS fighting for freedom of religion is a mere disguise to implement a disagreeable political ideology. This may be a tad far-fetched, but to me, Australian Muslims and ISIS are two entirely different species and under no consequence should a Muslim living in Australia be linked with a shooting in Europe or a decapitation in the Middle East.
Another plus side to spreading acceptance and kindness is that it will actually halter ISIS’ progression. Kayla, you’re crazy- how can simply being nice actually stop a radical military organisation? You see ol’ pal, the more a foreign country shuns its Muslim community, the more reason for the continuation of ISIS’ caliphate. Hold up: what the heck is that?
A caliphate is a temporary area on the border of Iraq and Syria where Muslims can live according to 7th century Islamic texts, under their own rules and without outside interference (I’m looking at you ‘Murica.) Therefore, if the world refuses to protest against its Muslim community, there won’t be any need for a caliphate, because why run off to ISIS when you can practice your religion anywhere in the world? Don’t you see? ISIS wants us to hate on Muslims and make it unsafe for them to live anywhere else but their poisonous lair. It wants us to shut off our borders, leaving these people with no option but to turn around and crawl back to home the country that’s treating them like filth.
So, apart from spreading an international message of kindness, how are we supposed to make the caliphate fail? There are two, equally horrendous options: one is a ground war against ISIS (leading to civilian harm and lack of protection for prisoners of war), the second being a war of attrition (leading to an excruciatingly long process which might take decades… decades of terrorism attacks we can’t afford). While us teens don’t personally press the buttons on the controller for these decisions, we do get to choose whether our character displays acceptance and benevolence, or bends under ISIS’ manipulation and starts pointing fingers at undeserving victims.
It’s up to us as the next generation to answer these questions.
Waleed Aly and Susan Carland are a duo who advocate everything our nation SHOULD be standing for to a T, and what I hope will be documented in future textbooks (or holographic slides, who knows) as the world’s response to ‘An Era of Terrorism.’ Below are a couple of videos which eloquently sum up this post: