The assassinations of Paris scared us off. They were brutal, unsettling, shook our secure self-understanding – but just as the assaults of Ankara, Beirut and Bagdad did, not to mention Syria. Because of that I did not add a French flag to my profile photo at facebook. The events of Paris are really bad, but that are they elsewhere, too; the only new thing is that they happen now geographically nearby. But if you have a look to the international political issues it only had been a question of time till such things happen in central Europe.
Elsewhere has been written a lot about the backgrounds and the necessary political consequences, I don’t want to repeat it here.
Today we talk here about how to deal personally with that situation.
During the last days I saw on facebook, twitter and other media a lot of posts to inform, but a certain number of them make for panic mongering, too. Yes, I highly rate the widespread information and that lots of users claim these information, too. But that can and must not be all.
The two journalists Nicolas Hénin and Jürgen Todenhöfer, who in the previous year had intense contact with the IS, both reported that the IS calculates on bomb attacks. But what they are scared of is social cohesion, particularly between the Muslim and the non-Muslim European population – that don’t fit into the philosophy of the IS.
Cohesion is so simply said – but how does this work?
What about remembering our talents?
Here I want to cite Carlos Ruiz Zafón (born at 25th September 1954 in Barcelona, Spain). The Angel’s Game is among others about the young author David Martín who discovers and evolves his talent. His mentor Andreas Corelli says to him in a talk:
I’m sure you have talent and feel like doing something with it. More than you think and less than you expect. But there are a lot of people with talent and that feeling, and a lot of them never get anywhere. That is only the initial point to make headway in life. The talent is like the strength of an athlete. You can be born with more or less abilities, but nobody becomes only an athlete because he is big or strong or quick by nature. What makes up the athlete – or the artist – that is the work, the craft, the technique. The intelligence you’re cradled with is only the ammunition. To be able to do something with it you have to make you mind an arm of precision.
Every piece of art is aggressive. And every life of an artist is a little or a big war, begun with yourself and your own restrictions. To reach something that you intended to do you need first of all ambition, then talent, knowledge and finally a chance.
The opportunity that resulted in our knowledge of this wonderful young woman was the assassination on Malala Yousafzai (born at 12th July 1997 in Swat valley, Pakistan). She experienced terrible things and then she decided not to bury herself in fear, but to make use of her biggest talent. She raised her voice and became by that so famous that she got as one of the few women, as only Pakistani and as youngest laureate anyway the Nobel Peace Price. In her Nobel Lecture last December she told among others about her dreams and those of her friends and what happened after the attack of the Taliban to them:
We had a thirst for education; we had a thirst for education because our future was right there in that classroom. We would sit and learn and read together. We loved to wear neat and tidy school uniforms and we would sit there with big dreams in our eyes. We wanted to make our parents proud and prove that we also could excel our studies and achieve those goals, which some people think only boys can. But things did not remain the same. When I was in Swat which was a place of tourism and beauty suddenly changed into a place of terrorism. I was just ten that more than 400 schools are destroyed. Women were flogged. People were killed. And our beautiful dreams turned into nightmares. Education went from being a right to being a crime. Girls were stopped from going to school. When my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed, too. I had two options: One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.
We could not just stand by and see those injustices of the terrorists, denying our rights, ruthlessly killing people and misusing the name of Islam. We decided to raise our voice and tell them: Have you not learnt, have you not learnt that in the Holy Quran Allah says: ‘If you kill one person, it is as if you kill the whole humanity’? Do you not know that Muhammed, peace be upon him, the prophet of mercy, he says: ‘Do not harm yourself or others’, and do you not know that the very first word of the Holy Quran is the word ‘Iqra’ which means ‘read’. The terrorists tried to stop us and attacked me and my friends, who are here today, on our school bus in 2012. But neither their ideas nor their bullets could win. We survived. And since that day, our voices have grown louder and louder.
(The complete Nobel Lecture can be seen here.)
Let us follow Malala’s example. Let us stop raging against terrorism and sharing horror stories. Let us instead deploy our talents to make the world the place where we want to live – and maybe even a bit better. Let us see and cherish our own beauty and the beauty of the others and let us do our bit to visualise this beauty and extravert it. Let us make the world a pleasant place that is endearing and where we enjoy living, every day one step more.