Je suis Charlie

I was shocked when I heard the news about the shootings in Paris. I have a very hard time to get my head around the fact that someone can be so offended by a mere cartoon that it sets them on a course to go out and kill the people who made them. And it makes me wonder, how did it come to this?

And I can only come to one conclusion: we, as a society, are all responsible. I know I probably already made some people angry by that statement but let me explain how I came to it.

No one is born as a terrorist, no matter what genetic material they have been given at birth. No one is born evil either. And I can’t imagine any parent looking at their new born and saying: Oooh, what a cute little terrorist baby! Let’s raise him so he can go and blow himself up somewhere!

As the the Wikipedia entrance on psychopathy shows, the environment plays a major role in making someone into a psychopath. And I believe that in order to wilfully plan an action like the one in Paris, you need to create psychopaths. So, let’s have a look at how we, as a society as a whole, could be responsible for creating these environments.

First of all, there are quite some anti Islamic people in the world, who connect the Islam directly to extremism. It is true that attacks like the one in Paris are done in the name of Allah or Mohammed or the Koran. That does not make it an Islamic thing though. They could just as well have done in in the name of the Geranium. Would we then start destroying all Geraniums in the world? Of course not! But it seems that some people would want to do that with Muslims though. And that behaviour only does one thing: throw oil on the fire. Why? Because everyone, yes everyone, who makes being a Muslim almost equal to being a possible terrorist is giving the extremist groups extra tools to create their army of psychopaths. Because every article, every publication, every recorded conversation that goes down that path can and will be used to bring across the message: See! They all want to kill us!

Secondly, let’s have a look at the countries where these people grow up. According to this article in De Correspondent (Dutch) most of them grow up in oil states. Also according to the article, these oil states get most of their income from … you guessed it, oil. That means they don’t need taxes from their population, which means they don’t have to keep them happy because they don’t need their money. They are not dependent on the people they govern. On top of that they own most or all of the media outlets in their country, which shapes the opinion of the population. Add a strong religious population to that and you have a lot of people living in sub standard conditions with religion as their only means for escape (for some reason I’ve never heard of extremist atheists, wonder why). And here comes this extremist group and what do they do? They give them something they want! This immediately makes them look good because they start with the message: we are your friends!

And, as the article in De Correspondent points out nicely, we all consume huge amounts of oil, keeping these regimes in power.

We really need to ask ourselves: what kind of society do we want to create and what do we need to do for that? One step in the process is to look for causes of destructive behaviour. Punishing the culprits without looking for the causes and rectifying those is like giving pain killers to someone with an open wound.

I am totally abhorred by what happened in Paris and I hope it will never happen again. And for that to come true we all need to have the courage to ask the hard questions, including to ourselves.

Also published on Medium.

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