Nov 28, 2008
It is a story that keeps people awake at night.
People inside luxury Five-Star hotels. People inside hovels and slums, because their families worked in those hotels. People in one bedroom apartments.
People in other countries.
People inside a newspaper's office. People on the streets.
People who have family members in the armed forces.
People who have no-one, any more.
Terrorism occurs with a purpose. One that is often mis-interpreted. Often widely-publicised. Sometimes, concealed. Sometimes, speculated about.
I wish I could say every kind of terrorism has a common thread. It does, but it is a common knife. A knife that often defeats the very purpose terrorists have in mind, in the first place.
Because somehow, somewhere..their purpose takes second place.
The purpose takes second place. Second place to the suffering, the healing, the destruction, the pain. The anger and the hatred. Long after a tragic disaster like the Bombay Tragedy of now, people are going to remember what precisely what some group wanted, where each member came from or what their main objective was.
But they will remember who, and what they lost first.
And that's where terrorism fails in its objective. Terrorism does more than invoke terror- it invokes hatred. People aren't going to sit in their houses and be afraid forever. People are going to get hurt, be crushed and wake up and move on. People are going to hate terrorists for what they've done, and sooner than later, people are going to seek revenge. By peaceful means or not. Whether it means joining the armed forces because they want to save their country, or becoming a journalist and being on the scene to give people information, or writing about it, or just plain waking up every morning and boarding a train in a station that still reeks of blood from innocent people and the fumes from an unfair gunshot. People are going to get up, and fight in whatever way they find best. People aren't going to sit at home and be terrorized forever.
Terrorism fails in its second objective too- it doesn't bring people apart. Maybe in this case it will have diplomatic consequences for international business in India, but the truth always prevails. Other countries aren't quite as naive to think that this was the work of Indians who are happy with their economic growth. Other countries read newspapers. They make calls. They get news.
And they will know that what lies beneath, is a work of destruction that was consequence to them not because people like me, people like the CEOs of companies in India wanted it that way.
Terrorism is already bring people together. Everybody is reading the same newspaper now, watching the same TV channel, grieving at the same news. Watchman and Business Official will walk hand-in-hand, out the doors of torture together. Everyone's suddenly the same. Everyone's the same in the eyes of fire.
We all wish that terrorists would try and achieve their objectives through firm and peaceful means, means that anyone would much prefer, including them. It'd work best for them, too, because their primary objective wouldn't be taking second place to the madness the create. They may walk around in their jeans and backpacks, without giving a damn about the world, but guess what? The world now doesn't give two hoots about them. Life always has its own way of throwing the boomerang right back at people.
I guess the only way we can fight this, is to fire up, with a determination to beat this in whatever small way we can. When an incident teaches children everywhere NOT to pick up a packet and return it to someone who dropped it, lest it might be a bomb, lets show them that alertness is good, but life doesn't always have to be like that. It is all we can do really, try to fight the fire with an extinguisher. There's not much point fighting fire with fire. Everyone burns.
And when terrorism strikes, when they light a match, there is a fire. A fire that burns many hearts, many lives, many dreams.
A fire that also displays light. A blazing, destructive light, but a light nonetheless. A light we can use, to find a path that's a parallel path to this madness.
Because Parallel lines never meet.