Helpless by Trevor Plumbly


Helpless, Helpless (Neil Young)

There’s more than tragedy and anger to consider after the events in Paris. A horrifying door’s been opened and as in the past the zealots, the misguided and those that feel disenfranchised will pour through it. This new breed of war doesn’t need army casualties or land occupation to measure progress, it operates on the basis that whilst terror itself doesn’t actually kill, it destroys communities and the fabric of that binds them. Terrorism isn’t a modern concept, consider the Spanish Inquisition, the Nazi purification measures during the Second World War and the countless attempts of ethnic and religious cleansing ever since. These weren’t battles fought by warriors on either side, more a case of fanaticism versus vulnerability. These days our world values rely on freedom of movement, belief and association; sadly for us, those values also create an easy target.

Another Place, Another Time (Jerry Lee Lewis)

On my brief visit to Paris years ago I was struck by the vitality of the city; it seemed that just about every tourist in the world had arrived at the same time as us, and every one of them was just happy to be there. Paris is, or rather should I say was an open city, there was a sense of fun just walking the streets. Rome might have its treasures and London its traditions but Paris was it! It was of course the 60s and times and attitudes were changing, mostly for the good. Airports and railway stations were places where tears were shed for all the right reasons. Casual relationships were formed and discarded, regardless of race or religion; we were young, away from home and just too busy enjoying the new found freedom to get angry.

Teach Your Children (Crosbie, Stills and Nash)

This situation isn’t dissimilar to the events in Northern Ireland some years ago where young people were indoctrinated with an inherited political and religious anger far beyond their moral capacity to fully comprehend or question. It took years for these adolescent warriors to decide that getting shot wasn’t nearly as much fun as having fun and there were better ways of dealing with tired old grievances than dying. But that of course was a local problem, the current one is not only global but virtually impossible to predict and contain. Already there are outbreaks of racial and religious tensions in America, Europe and even Australia, an unfortunately predictable response to the random attacks in civilian areas. I don’t think dropping bombs of any size will produce a lasting solution, mercifully those days left us with Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this war, innocents everywhere are targets and the weapon could be the young man or woman in the next seat. It’s a war reliant on capturing misguided young minds to succeed, and that’s where we should direct more energy. By instigating programmes towards valuing, educating and employing disillusioned young people, that way, some at least might take the view that whilst religious belief is important, like a lot of other things in life, it’s not worth killing or dying for.

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