One cannot imagine the pain, the confusion or the terror of an attack like the one seen in Paris last weekend. I know that I will never truly understand how those directly affected feel. However we don’t need to have experienced the horror to have it permeate our lives. That is what the attackers want. They not only want to hurt and kill, they want us to be terrorized. They want us to fear what is behind every corner; to always be awaiting what may come next.
Those who attack innocent bystanders for the purpose of terror are cowards. They fear the ideas, people and cultures which they attack. In other words, they choose the path where they are terrorized themselves. These combatants hide and utilize the cover of surprise to feel brave. In reality they wage a war on the innocent, instead of a war on what they actually fear.
We see this in all terrorist attacks but especially this week in Paris. Those involved attacked venues of no political importance. They attacked a soccer stadium, a rock concert and a restaurant. These are places where people feel safe, relaxed, comfortable.
The goal of the terrorists was to take away that feeling and replace it with the fear that they have, imposing their fear on millions by killing hundreds. In the month of November alone there have been attacks on a produce market (Nigeria), a funeral (Baghdad), a residential neighborhood (Beirut), a mosque (Cameroon), a public water tap (Chad), and a hotel (Somalia). These places are ones where you should not need to fear for your life.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself.” In the present, we have to still be afraid of fear, the fear of those who look to terrorize. Right now we need to stand with those who have been the victims of these cowards. However the question in the coming days and months will be, how do we respond? To allow this fear to engulf us is to take misguided actions ourselves.
Instead we must take actions to show that we do not fear those who wish to hurt us. We should hunt them down in the shadows, we should expose them to the light and enact justice. We should attack the masterminds in the open, not through backroom deals and espionage. We should protect ourselves as best we can but we cannot cower behind that protection. We shouldn’t turn our backs on refugees who need our help out of the instilled fear that one of the thousands may be looking to attack next.
The question we are really asking is if it is okay to turn our backs on other humans beings because we are now too afraid? I believe we must stand up to the attackers and not allow them to threaten our peace. There may not be an obvious solution but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
Stand strong in the face of adversity. Don’t allow the terror to overcome you.
JP. O’Hagan is a third-year student and sports editor for The Observer. In the classroom he is “one of those” crazy BME and pre-med students. When he isn’t studying or contemplating and discussing life’s largest issues, he enjoys Netflix and watching Chicago sports.