Sometimes, there is not sitting on the fence

During a post-event TCI Expo party in Pittsburgh early yesterday evening the tragic news from Paris started to trickle in.

There are those moments when you sense that something momentous is happening – and you are witnessing it. This was one of them. Many innocent lives have been lost, people whose only crime was to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Extremely disturbing and very, very sad. It is impossible to imagine what kind of ideology can justify or even encourage such acts of senseless violence.

But I fear that the repercussions from these horrendous, senseless, inhuman acts will be far-reaching and represent a turning point.

The media are already reporting today that at least one of the attackers held a Syrian passport and passed through the Greek Island of Leros in October. Without any doubt those who wish to fortify Europe and close its doors to all those fleeing abject poverty, war and rape will use this event to justify the militarization of the borders and the erection of ever higher fences and barriers.

This is doubly cruel in view of the fact that many of the people who had to leave their homes behind were forced to do so by organizations such as Islamic State – and will now likely have to bear the consequences of the attacks in Paris yesterday, perpetrated by those following the selfsame ideology of bigotry, ignorance and hate as the aggressors in their home countries.

I believe these are issues in the face of which you cannot remain neutral or distanced, there is no sitting on the fence, as they concern each and every one of us – as fellow human beings.

So yes, indeed, our thoughts and compassion ought to go out to those who lost their lives or were injured in Paris and to their families – but we should also not forget those who have left absolutely everything they ever possessed behind in order to save their lives and those of their families – and not confuse aggressors and victims.