I didn’t expect to write this kind of post, but ever since the horrific Paris attacks happened last month I feel like there has been a huge shift towards thinking and talking about fear. Understandably, we’re scared. I’ve heard first and second-hand accounts of people not going out at night, not taking public transport and even cancelling holidays in the aftermath of the Paris shootings on 13th November.
Personally, whilst the attacks did make me incredibly worried and upset for all of the Parisians affected, it didn’t occur to me to change my plans to go out and socialise that weekend. But that Sunday, as I sat in a newly opened 4-floor cinema in the heart of Piccadilly, I very nearly had a panic attack when our screen went black and we were told by an automated voice to “please evacuate the building”. The hollow, low-pitched humming alarm noise was horribly unfamiliar, and the other cinema-goers looked at each other with unspoken horror, before we rushed towards the fire exit, desperately checking Twitter on the way down to see if our deep fears were confirmed.
After bolting down four flights of stairs hearing each thud of my pounding heart, my friend and I found our way to the assembled crowd to hear that it was just a faulty fire alarm. The tension in the air melted away and I couldn’t believe how terrified I had been a few moments earlier.
It made me think – is this the sign of things to come for any mildly unfamiliar situation? Would an unattended bag on the street make you nervous? I admit that I’ve been snapping to attention whenever I hear a strange noise on the tube.
But surely scary things happen all the time. A few weeks before the attacks, my boss and I were catching a train back to the office from a meeting when all of a sudden she went very quiet, grabbed my arm and pulled me off the train onto another carriage when we were waiting to pull out. A man had been standing next to me holding a knife in his hand. I hadn’t even noticed.
The truth is that by being scared we are letting fear win, and we shouldn’t be allowing these terrorist acts to cloak us in darkness the way they intend for them to.
I think that’s why I’ve been consciously trying to avoid as much of the sensational news reports and social media articles as I can. You can call me ignorant, but I’d rather spend more time reflecting on how we can best bring a loving outcome to the people who need it – including our ‘enemies’.
A few weeks ago I went to see the legendary motivational speaker and bestselling author and activist Marianne Williamson at Alternatives, Piccadilly. She spoke for two hours about how, in the wake of such attacks, we could turn our attention from fear to love, in what she calls Miraculous Thinking.
Marianne defines a ‘miracle’ as a shift in perception from fear to love. I won’t go into great detail about what she shared, but what I found particularly insightful was the following:
In order to go some way towards solving the problem, first we need to realise that we had a part to play in all of this. We must atone for the mistakes of our respective nations.
Instead of helplessly thinking, “What can I do?”, we need to start thinking “Who do I need to be?”
We need to accept that the traditional way of solving these issues isn’t working and start seeking alternative methods to peace.
By reconnecting with yourself through meditation, prayer etc., you will create change by becoming more attuned to how you can best serve the world.
Nobody was born a terrorist. Our job is to consistently show love, compassion and kindness to all who we come across in this lifetime.
I love her point about how nobody was born a terrorist. It makes you wonder how and why did terrorists become terrorists in the first place? And what could have prevented them from doing so? If you think that as an individual you have no power whatsoever to make a difference, you’re wrong. Imagine if everybody felt that way. I definitely took away from her talk the necessity to be kind, loving and respectful to everybody I encounter. You just never know what effect this will have, and how far these kindnesses can spread from one person to another, instead of employing violence to invoke more anger and fear. This is why I think that negotiation will always be more effective than violence.
“David didn’t defeat Goliath by normal means; he defeated him by hitting him in the Third Eye. Goliath has one Achilles’ heel, and that is that he has no conscience. The only thing more powerful than hate gone viral is love gone viral, and that is what we must make happen now.”
– Marianne Williamson