With a silent prayer in my heart, I read the front page news about yet another bomb blast ripping apart dozens of people. The accompanying gruesome images were difficult to forget. An inconsolable mother wailing about loss of her young daughter, a wounded man looking helplessly at the mangled body of his dead friend, a restaurant hall destroyed beyond recognition. It seemed as if the ugly face of terrorism was looking at me square in the face with a wicked smile!
From Mumbai to New York and from London to Hyderabad, the international terrorist acts have become far more frequent and far more destructive over the last few years. The so-called War on Terror has not only miserably failed to contain the terrorism-menace but in fact, it has served to escalate it to unimaginable proportions. No country and no city can be considered safe from this threat in today’s world and that’s why it becomes imperative that today’s elders should try and make their young ones truly understand this complex world-wide phenomenon.
There might be different political, ideological and economic conflicts at the surface but on careful scrutiny, it becomes clear that religious strife has been the single most common and important denominator for global terrorism. The advances in technology have shrunk the world in size. The television, internet and mobile phones have made it easy to disseminate information (and also the misinformation!) to any corner of the world. This technological advancement has unwittingly played into the terrorists’ hands. Spreading hatred and malice against one another through misrepresentation of facts has been an age-old technique in covert wars and it has become easier with the speed and reach of modern information technology. Portraying terrorists as ‘religious warriors’ and terrorist acts as ‘religious duties’, these misinformation- campaigners have managed to cleverly manipulate modern media to perpetrate their ‘ideology of violence’ into immature, malleable minds.
As the geographical and political boundaries become increasingly obsolete in this world of globalization, it is important that all of us understand that building walls and fences between people in the name of religion has been a typical terrorist ploy. Purpose of any religion is to build bridges between people, not to create obstructions. Every religion has been built on principles of innate goodness of human beings. Fraternity, compassion and empathy are the cornerstones of all religions and sects. Those preaching or practicing violence in the name of religion can never be considered as true followers or believers of any religion.
It is very natural for any individual and any community to feel proud about their racial, regional or religious characteristics. But while maintaining that pride in tact, it is also very important for every such individual and every such community to understand, accept and respect the diversity of human cultures. This broad-minded attitude of tolerance and respect towards differences in ethnic background, ideological viewpoint and cultural practices should be instilled in the minds of young children by the parents and teachers right from the beginning. A Mahatma had once said, “An eye for an eye would turn the whole world blind” and that still remains true. Unless the concept of universal brotherhood is inculcated in the minds of the young by the older and wiser ones, we run a risk of making monsters out of our own children and creating a new generation of terrorists in our homes. After all, terrorists are not from some alien species, they were also born as human beings but later turned into heartless, inhumane creatures for the want of right kind of guidance in their formative years!
Race, Region and Religion have always been important facets of our mental make-up. Now let’s add ‘Reason’ to that list!