In July 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. It was amazing not only as a technical achievement but because of what it symbolised. What started as a race between nations (essentially land masses on the planet Earth) soon became apparent to be a defining moment for all of humanity (all of the people on all of those land masses combined).
Nixon, in a trans-world conversation with Armstrong in that defining moment said, “For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one.” Armstrong, looking up at a precious blue and green world in the blackness of infinity, could only agree. We are alone here, all of us, stuck on this rock. We are one. Our obsession with borders and factions and divisions is hopelessly misguided. We have forgotten what Armstrong saw, what Nixon said, what was felt or what was realised back then, in that one priceless moment.
Lately I’ve been wondering how we, the human race, forgot that fleeting sense of oneness, how we let it go – or if it even existed in the first place. It took a Cold War, a race for superiority, to get us there, but by God we did it: We, human beings, found something to unite us all as citizens of Earth – if only for a few seconds. In that moment it didn’t matter that Armstrong was American. While he planted a USA flag on the Moon, for many in that moment he was not American, he was a human being. He represented human beings. The human race. All of us.
Was it days, hours or mere seconds after it happened that we turned our heads back to the ground and picked up guns and knives and began the killing again? Was there even a millisecond of peace on our planet while Armstrong looked up at us over that silver wasteland? Did it ever stop?
“All the people on this Earth are truly one”.
It’s clear that we have long ago forgotten that undeniable truth, those of us who could appreciate what was said or ever knew about it. In my opinion schools ought to teach children about that moment in 1969, about its meaning. Teachers should ask their pupils each day to imagine looking at the Earth from space and to try and see us as Armstrong did: As One.
It was a moment that should have united us, but we couldn’t do it, we couldn’t hold on to the truth observed by the astronauts. It slipped from us, if we ever tried to grasp it at all. We, the human race, held tight to our boundaries, our divisions, our nightmares. We loved them too much and continued our worsening obsessions with these things. We forgot that we are a world and continued to pretend we are dozens of separated worlds. We forgot that we are One.
I have left it a good few days since the terrible events in Paris before I decided to finally write about it here. The reason for the delay is so that I could allow my thoughts to settle, to allow the flames of anger, revulsion, despair and hatred to simmer down into glowing embers of sadness. And to allow rational thought to raise itself up above those embers. Now, I have thought rationally, and I have realised how I feel about it.
First and most importantly, I want to completely remove religion from this equation. It would be easy to sit here and rant about religion and all the wrongs it has done throughout history, but I have thought carefully about this and concluded that terrorists are not religious at all. I refuse to equate terrorism with religion on any level whatsoever. In fact, you know what, I’d go further and say that I refuse to consider terrorists to be human. Any group of individuals who carry out the kind of bloodthirsty and cowardly massacres we’ve seen in Paris are not actually worthy human beings by our modern standards. Not religious, not worthy, not even human. Just monsters. And from here on I will refer to them as such.
I refuse to use the monsters’ chosen brand name in this article because that dignifies them with some kind of legitimacy as an organisation. It also wrongly attaches a religious affiliation to their actions. Monsters do not deserve that recognition. They have cast it aside, spat upon their holy book and its followers, insulted them all along with every other person on this planet. These monsters deserve no recognition as a religious entity. They deserve no title, no name, no association with any religion at all.
Now I’ve straightened that out, what are my feelings about the Monsters’ latest atrocity? I’d like to say I’m angry, I’m furious, I’m horrified. And I am, of course. But my overwhelming feeling , above all of these, is one of simple, terrible sadness.
My sadness isn’t just for the victims – it’s a wider sadness, a feeling of despair and sorrow for the entire human race. To think that monsters have been born and bred among us now, in the year 2015, to do these terrible things, to openly and brutally slay so many innocent people. To think that anyone might have any possible reason to murder so pointlessly, with nothing gained, nothing achieved, nothing earned and with no justification whatsoever. It makes me sad.
I think the main reason it makes me sad is because I am a parent. I despair at what sort of world my children will grow up in. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who’s wondered how, at some point, I will struggle to explain these horrific events and those which preceded it. How can I tell my children that monsters are real, that they do exist, and they want only to kill us. How can I explain that the reason they want to kill us is simply because we exist? What crumb of comfort can I offer? What tiny glimmer of logic or hope? None.
Some would say, it’s a war. The monsters think they are at war with us. No, I refuse to accept that. Wars are not fought like this, or at least they haven’t been for centuries. This isn’t the dark ages. We don’t have marauders storming into villages and laying waste to them. Wars are conflicts of states against states; not states of mind against states of mind. In war we have armies, who fight opposing armies. In war, attacks are made against military targets, strategic locations. There could have been any number of such targets for the attack, but instead the monsters slaughtered teenagers at a rock concert. How can that possibly be classed as part of a war? No, I refuse to accept that classification, it cannot be right on any level.
The monsters are hidden like worms in dark holes, like a woodworm infecting the world. Some don’t even know what they are becoming.
Many commenters claim this is all the fault of religion and the monsters act this way because we don’t follow their religion. I’ve covered that: The monsters are not religious, they don’t deserve that label, and what they practice isn’t religion. It is barbarism. They wear religion as a mask, hide behind it, twist it, pervert it into something it’s not. But no, they are not religious. The vast majority of followers of that religion agree. So no, it’s not because of religion.
Others would insist we’ve brought it upon ourselves here in the West, by invading Iraq, Afghanistan, or by the French bombing Syria. Well yes, the French have been bombing Syria for a while and yes, Blair and Bush have between them torn gaping holes in the Middle East; holes into which the foulest scum of the earth have swarmed. But even this doesn’t excuse or justify what happened in Paris.
No, the truth lies deep below this, way down in the bowels of everything we have ever known. Forget everything you’ve heard about this. Every single political debate about it is wrong and pointless. Every historical analysis is futile and every religious discussion about this doesn’t even touch upon the truth.
The truth as I see it is far simpler. The monsters are bullies. And like all bullies, they are trying to provoke a fight. They want a conflict. The bigger the better, the bloodier the better. They want to be hated, despised, attacked. They want to stir up an all-consuming world war, East against West, humanity against the monsters. This would make them very happy. They want to bring about the end of the world itself.
What to do then?
Vengeance is the natural instinct. And yes, we could turn Syria into a crater in the ground, it might make us all feel better for a day, a week, a month. But then the consequences would become clear.
It would be ignorant and ridiculous to think in territorial terms here. The monsters are not all in Syria. Thousands lurk in different countries, from West to East, from Europe to Africa, in every corner of the world. Many are born in the very countries which they attack. Many are rubbing their hands with glee, waiting for the West to give in to the latest provocation, to enable them to justify worse and worse slaughter.
The Paris attackers were Belgian citizens; should we then have bombed Belgium? Of course not! The 7/7 bombers were English citizens. Should we have bombed London? No! The stupidity of bombing Syria is clear to anyone who thinks about it for five minutes. It would be like poking a hornets’ nest with a stick, whilst naked and covered in honey. You might kill a couple of the bastards with your stick, but you’d provoke something much worse.
So am I saying we do nothing because we shouldn’t give in to provocation? Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. Do I think we should strike back immediately and strongly, never mind the consequences? It’s tempting, and most of us feel that instinct. But what separates civilised people from the monsters is the ability to tame our instincts and control our violent urges so that we might apply logic and sensibility.
But how can we apply logic to a situation which has none?
…That’s the question which brings me back to the reason for my sadness. There is no easy solution, and that is the reason for my sadness. This problem is brand new to humanity; it’s the stuff of science fiction, we face an enemy of the entire human race. It’s almost akin to an alien invasion; a rampaging populous of unknowable beasts who want to simply destroy civilisation - they do not possess the ability to care, they don’t have any kind of human value set.
The world needs to wake up and realise, this horror transcends all of our concepts of nationhood and countries. Shut the fuck up about territories, politics and religion! Those things mean nothing anymore! Can’t you see that?
This threat ignores boundaries and borders. It is not about countries. Syria is not a country to whom these monsters pledge loyalty and so bombing it won’t help. It’s merely a base of operation for some of them. The monsters are a spiteful, infectious disease that turns people against people. It spreads virally, sometimes using the media or the internet to channel itself. And like idiots, we play right into it, letting ourselves get whipped into a frenzy of hatred against anyone who even bares the same colours as the monsters. Stop giving in to the disease! Resist it! Don’t think like they want us to think! If anyone seriously thinks a threat of this type can be combatted using purely airstrikes or military intervention, they are tragically wrong.
What nobody wants to acknowledge or face up to is that the monsters are not a physical enemy. They are a delusion, a state of mind, a way of thinking, a mental disease. The monsters are not just a physical presence, not a bunch of guys with guns. They are a tidal wave of dreadful thoughts, a tsunami of anti-humanity plans and plots, a mass rejection of what it is to be human. And all of us, from every country, every religion, every way of life, are at threat from them. In short, we have a situation of Humans versus Monsters across our entire planet right now.
I don’t know what can be done, but I do know this: The human race must come together and defend itself on a united front. And I mean every continent on this world, standing together, acting in a consistent way, casting aside former differences to stop this thing.
Now, more than ever before in our history, we need to take a huge leap of faith and throw aside our artificial boundaries and become one united people - we must agree how best to combat the monsters, and do it together, as one single force, all religions, all creeds, all nationalities, all colours side by side.
If we stay as we are, divided, unable to agree, obsessed with boundaries and borders and who worships who, or who owes who what, then we are dead in the water.
If on the other hand we forget everything we’ve ever learned about our divisions, and unite as human beings, we’ll not only destroy the monsters but we’ll create a new world in which impossible for them to ever exist again.
I’d like to imagine that someday, for one priceless moment, all of our leaders will sit together and remember what Armstrong saw and what Nixon said in 1969. They needn’t even talk. They need only think about that image, of the Earth in the infinite blackness of space. And then, after thinking about it, they could agree that all of the people on this Earth are truly one.
Only then can the humans win against the monsters.