Stand by Paris - Feel No Fear

The city I fell in love with during all the weekends I spent there as an au-pair.
 The city in which I discovered art. Not only in the museums, but in every park bench and light pole since aestethics is at least as important as function in this fantastic capital.

And now. A blood.stained city that has witnessed tragedies that make my heart bleed.

A lot of people wonder what the world is coming to and they say:
"Just wait, it will come here too"


When you feel that kind of fear, when you spread that kind of worry, you are doing what the terrorists want.

The ultimate goal for terrorist organizations is not to kill many persons in a sports arena, a concert hall or a train station. Killing people and ruining historic buildings are just means towards their ultimate goal: Creating fear.  Making others so scared that they will give upp their life style, give independence to a part of a country, acknowlegde a certain religion - you name it.

Since the goal for terrorists is to make us scared - let's refuse. We cannot always stop the terrible crimes some persons commit, but we can stop them from achieving their goal. We can refuse to be afraid.
Or as the Parisians put it: "Meme pas peur" - Not even afraid.

"But how can I not be afraid when such horrible things happen?" you may think. 

Well, understanding the nature of terror organizations may help. All terrorist organizations follow an arc of decline and they ulitmately die out, on average within 5-9 years. Look at all terrorist groups there have been in the world: Red Brigades. Baader-Meinhof gang. IRA and the Ulster Freedom Fighters. They created havoc, but still. No borders changed, the western values have not changed. And the organizations have died out.

As Steven Pinker writes in his interesting book: The better angels of our nature
 "All terrorist groups carry the seed of their own destruction" 
Below is a graph from the book. Contrary to popular beliefs, fewer people are killed in terrorist attacks today, than before.

We can see spikes from the 9/11 attack in NY 2001 and the M11 train station bombing in Madrid 2004. Future versions of this graph will unfortunately have some more spikes. France Nov 13 2015 will be one of them. However, as you can see, these are spikes - not trends. The trend is declining.

There is less reason to fear terrorism now than there was a few decades back.

There are many who refer to terrorism like a hydra that grows out two new heads as soon as one is
chopped off. So even if each terrorist group will fail and die out, there is a fear that there will always be new ones coming.

To deal with this, we need to stop feeding the hydra. 

Even though it is hard to believe, those who committed the atrocities in Paris were once amazing babies who were hopefully dearly loved by parents and siblings. Still, somewhere along the way they got so lost, so insecure and frustrated that others could convince them that killing fellow human beings is the right thing to do. They let an ideology override their thinking, empathy and understanding.

The hydra feeds on hate and fear.

If we show understanding and respect to one another instead of fear and hate we can starve the hydra and let it die, taking all heads with it.

So where is the world going to?

Wherever we take it.


Less useful than a bug

Lyxja tilted the space ship just a little, avoiding the exaggerated movement that could cause nausea. She looked at her father who was sitting next to her and noticed his slight, approving nod.
"Soon you will get your space flight certificate, Lyxja. Really soon."

A smile was just about to spread across her face as the grey planet came into view. That look stopped the smile.
"Dad, remember that you told me that all planets have a mirror planet, one that has exactly the same properties as another one?"
"Yes, all planets have a mirror planet, or a twin planet as they are sometimes called."
"So how come the mirror planet to this grey planet is all blue and green?"
Her father made a slight adjustment with his joystick. She had missed an alarm on the screen.
"Mirror planets have the same pre-requisites to start with. But what happens to it next depends on the inhabitants."
"So what happened to the grey planet, the one that is all dead now?"

"Well, Tellus itself is not dead. But there is no life on the planet anymore."
"Why not? What happened?"
This time Lyxja noticed the alarm on the screen and made the necessary adjustment to the direction herself, before her father had to intervene.
"Well, Tellus was a planet inhabited by many species. Many different animals and plants. One animal, the humans, were really good at inventing things, at creating things. But they were not that good at living with other species.
Once there were bees on Tellus. They were insects that flew from flower to flower and they had the ability to create really sweet food called honey. The bees died out because of substances spread by humans. When the bees died out, the flowers could not pollinate each other as well as before. Over time more and more insects died out. Then the birds and the bats died out, followed by other animals. In the end, just fifty years after the insects disappeared, all life on Tellus was gone. It is a really sad story."

Lyxja turned the space ship, it was time to go home.
"But the twin planet, Sullet, is green and full of life. What happened there?"
"Well, that is really interesting. There were humans there too. On that planet they did not cause the death of the insects. They did however exterminate themselves in grand scale fights called wars and terrorist attacks with nuclear weapons. About 50 years after all the humans died out, nature had taken over. All buildings, all constructions created by the industrious humans, deteriorated and trees and plants grew over them. Replaced them. There are no humans left, but all other species thrive."

Lyxja was silent a few moments as she thought about the blue green planet and about the grey, dead planet.

"These humans, they were an intelligent species right?"
"Yes, one of the most intelligent ones in their galaxy."
Lyxja shook her head.
"That did not really help, did it? If in the end they were less useful to their world than a bug?"