November 16, 2015
The recent attacks in Paris have left a deep red scar in our minds and hearts. The reactions on social media were stunning. I saw French mourning, Brits blaming refugees and little neutral Austrians calling for full NATO invasions and eradication of IS. But amongst the more radical responses, I also spotted a unique feeling of solidarity. Even those Europeans who admitted to dislike the French, extended their support. “They attack one of us Europeans, they attack all of us.” and “Your dead are our dead.” are only a few of the messages used. Not only is this a sign of developing European identity, but also common ground for a European Defence Policy. It is also a very French sentiment. All for one, and one for all.
When I saw on Facebook that my friends were safe, a wave of relief overcame me, followed by a flood of tears. My friends were safe, but 128 other people were dead. It is likely at least one of the Parisians I know knew someone who was killed or injured. This attack hit too close to home. It shows how dependent we are on closeness to see the real picture of horror. When a bomb went off in Turkey, I was shocked and empathetic, but not as strongly as this. And what about Beirut?
It is different from the attack on Charlie Hebdo too, because random citizens were attacked. It was not a surgical strike, but a coordinated bombardment with one goal: To maximise casualties and terror.
This could happen again anywhere at any time, and it does. We just don’t always look beyond our borders.
Our response must be one of stern resolution to uphold our humanitarian values that we have fought and died to gain for centuries. The 89ers have grown up with these values and we will do all we can to see them preserved. We will not give in to terror and aggression, because we are stronger than any of those who choose to walk the easy path of mindless violence.
If we are to persevere with our principles intact, we will have to work hard for ourselves and the future generations to come.
Building fences and closing borders won’t help anyone, because the threat is not external. Most incidents in Europe involved European citizens. Refugees are not the problem. They are the ones fleeing from being exposed to these attacks every day. Could a few terrorists be hiding among them? Certainly. But they are already here too. We should not condemn a whole people, just because a few of them might harbor us ill will. Do we hate every American citizen, because some pick up a firearm and go on killing sprees? No – let’s not generalise!
In fact, by helping them now, we are de-radicalising future generations in the Middle-East. Much of what we are dealing with today is a direct result of US military scheming and European negligence during and after WWII.
Only by showing that Europe is better than it is depicted in the Middle-East, that we are better than we were in 1945, can we end the age of terror.
Yes, we should root out the terrorists at their source under a coordinated UN action plan, but first we must protect those caught in the middle (and that is the majority of the people). And lastly we must ensure that another Iraq doesn’t happen. We need to build the region back up together. You cannot simply impose democratic institutions and practices, without instilling the values that are essential to it. Only a dictatorship can transform a society in an instant, as we have seen in Iran. We will need time and resources. It will cost us dearly, but the EU and the entire world will be better for it. If we do not opt for the long-term solution, we will drown in a sea of terror that will last far longer and cost many more lives and resources than we can possibly imagine today. Paris was only the beginning. Let’s make sure the next few attacks will be the last. Let us prevent the age of terror. Two decades are more than enough.
By Dominik Kirchdorfer1989 Generation Initiative