Monday morning November 16, 2015 will be the time when across much of the western world the Paris attacks become officiated and legitimized as terrorist attacks by institutional heads on loudspeakers, such as principals and CEOs who feel it is incumbent on them to say something. Some of the more anxious of these “leaders” are right now mulling over what to say so that they are accurate and general enough on their facts, with a degree of compassion, and also inserting some resolution and embodiment of the institution’s core values. The one item that most will be sure to turn to is the age old “Moment of Silence”.
Speaking Out To The Silence, Walking Out?
If the weakly institution I currently find myself in attempts to have a moment of silence Monday—we do not have loudspeakers so the person calling for it would be in vivo—I will be saying the following roughly, if my courage shows up:
“I am not okay with giving silence to these particular victims when our world loudly and uninterruptedly talks right over the thousands of daily victims who succumb to starvation, thousands unjustly killed in traffic accidents, and the thousands killed by gun violence and governmental weapon abuses. I expect to hear a lot more moments of reflective silence on these daily systemic victims before I acquiesce to give silence to one specific, infrequent, and quite honestly misunderstood grouping of victims. One last thing as for prevention, as this event is being called a terrorist attack, I offer the intelligent words of another: The best way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it.” (I will decide then whether or not to walk out based on the reception, if any, to what I have said; I wanted to also mention something like coral reef bleaching and other ecological disasters but think the audience would then be pushed away)
1) There has been such a numbing to normalized violences—perhaps ushered in by two world wars though probably starting earlier—in the human psychological environment, that it is no wonder much of what is truly silenced will never have a moment of reflection for its ceasing to exist. Paris, as with cities in general, is an accretion of human-only systems that silence by slaughtering a wider holistic eco-system. Because humans depend on eco-systems whether they admit it or not, eco-systems far away from cities like Paris need to be subjugated for human needs—mostly food and heating supplies—thus a large impetus for colonialism/imperialism that still goes on de facto through corporatized globalization. People—not to mention animals and other things that would draw sympathy from us—die daily in these places of systematic exploitation and sometimes as the result of a proxy war die in the thousands. France has very bloody hands in this respect with places such as Algeria and Vietnam, but I would not presume to blame the Parisians of Friday night for the atrocities of their forebears. However, by the very fact of their living and employing a city they have inherited and are acutely furthering a proven-deadly system that will naturally give them enemies. Because of the nature of their system, however, their enemies will generally be too weak to ever do anything to them. It’s a one way stream and they are generally the ones on the toilet not in the sewer.
2) This event happened in the backdrop of a Western European theater where Russia is boldly involved, and seems to have plans for corralling in as many countries under it’s domain through use of it’s energy supplies. Russia now has the pretext for an even greater involvement in Syria if it wants, as now they can maybe say they will go and take on ISIS because the United States seems to be helping the organization grow larger (I won’t speculate further on this point…). If an accurate text on the history of this era is ever written, it will certainly find both the events of Russia’s 2015 forays in Syria and this terrorist attack highlighted on a chronology of related events.
3) This was an attack of civilized people on civilized people. They both (or all, not limited to 2) may have very different ideas of civilization and come from different epochal idealizations, but they all share civilization and its attraction to using advanced weaponry. To the extent that religion is involved for some of the individuals, that too is a civilized activity that informs many violent acts. Civilization by its very nature is violent, and so long as it continues, so too unfortunately will violences like these and others that are not seen but are felt by its victims.
4) One penultimate note—and this may just be in the “ranking” of how particularly evil we want to tell ourselves these people are (I’m sure this will inflame anyone who lost anyone in these attacks) —is a curiosity to me that they chose a night time attack in a place where there would certainly be a limited amount of children to no children at all. If you want to see this as an act of war as French President Hollande said it was, then you have to note they weren’t attacking children and were either intentionally or unintentionally doing that, perhaps to avoid damage to their image or perhaps because they are not anti-human, just anti Paris, France, whatever larger enemies they believe they have and are fighting.
5) A final note on November 20: a presumed dichotomy exists in the western mind that I attempted above to shine light on with the vocal rejection of a moment of silence, namely between acceptable and unacceptable victims. The moments of silence are to be for those unacceptable casualties that are supposed to emotionally move westerners as they somehow challenge their core values; acceptable victims, on the other hand, are those overlooked casualties that I spoke of that are not mourned for or considered by any great many people, despite the violent and preventable deaths they have to succumb to. These acceptable victims are rationalized as a cost of doing business, or somehow other kept off of the radar screen so as to not interrupt the smooth flow of operations with “unnecessary” emotions.