As we stand united against terrorism, let us also unite against the UK-backed US airstrikes that have killed 225 civilians this month in Syria. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, whether carried out by ‘lone attackers’, terrorist networks, or tax-payer funded uniformed institutions carrying out war crimes against civilians.
It is time, past time, for a global movement of citizens and governments united to overcome all forms of terrorism, war and state-sponsored organised violence and weapons sales. At the end of World War I we launched the League of Nations. At the end of World War II we launched the United Nations. Today we need an equal response – a united surge forward by citizens and governments – to turn back the tide of the insanity of militarism and violent extremism by state and non-state actors. In the week in which we’ve seen agreement on the largest weapons sale in recent times to Saudi Arabia – a country escalating war, violence and instability and fuelling and funding terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East; and the attack in Manchester; we – ALL of us – can and need to do more.
Many people still haven’t heard about the field of peacebuilding. It’s a field that has developed an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge of proven and effective tools that help to prevent violence, end wars, and support recovery, reconciliation and healing afterwards. It’s a field where we know ‘choices’ matter: whether we choose to invest in war or intelligent and effective approaches to addressing and preventing violence; whether we choose to rally to leaders promoting obscene militarism and fear or whether we discover within ourselves the resolution, intelligence, humanity and courage to find real, practical, needed solutions. We have had and have the women’s movement overcoming incredible odds and opposition to wage the struggle for women’s rights. We have had and have the environmental movement struggling to overcome destructive and rapacious practices devastating our earth and life systems. It is time, it is past time, for a new, powerful, resolute, inspired, creative, courageous, committed, dedicated peace movement: one that will actively wage peace, resist, blockade and actively prevent the insanity and mutually assured destructiveness of militarism and terrorism; and one that will evolve the brilliant, possible, practical and real solutions to help us address the actual drivers, conditions and causes of terrorism and violence.
It is our time. Citizens, organisations, governments, businesses. Our capacity for innovation, for ‘solving’ broken systems, for reaching out to each other across artificial and unneeded dividing lines – is part of the extraordinary beauty of what it means to be human.
It is our time to rise. It is our time to abolish militarism, terrorism and war.
United beyond hate, beyond fear, beyond terror, beyond violence. Humanity is more than that. It is up to all of us to rise and overcome all forms of violence, war and terror. We stand with Manchester, with Raqqa, Mosul, Baghdad and everywhere – in any city, village or home – where women, men, girls and boys are experiencing violence, war and terror; whether from an individual entering a stadium, or state institutions dropping bombs from the air.
No child, no daughter, no father, no mother, no son, no uncle, aunt, friend or stranger should ever have their life taken, ever be injured, ever experience or know the terror of violence and war. Not in a stadium. Not in our homes. Not in our schools or cities.
It is within our grasp to transcend the terror of violence.
That is our power as humanity – united.