When people look back on the summer of 2016 they will ask how we got to this point. It is the summer of Brexit, the summer of Trump and now it is fast becoming the summer of terror.
Every time we look at the news we are bombarded with hate; one group blaming another group for individual actions. How did we become so divided? In this ever-changing, ever-globalised world, why do we feel like we have less in common with each other? Why do we view those who are different as a threat to our very existence? The answer may lie in my first statement; because we continue to look at the news.
The media has a fascination with crime, terror and even every day human faults. We live in a world where the media obsessively stalk famous people during a personal crisis and the public eat up every column, every photo, every statement from the person in distress. We live in a world where tabloids avoid facts in order to get their readers riled up, angry and wanting more reasons to hate misrepresented groups. And increasingly we live in a world where within the first 5 minutes of a terror attack, there are news reports speculating whether this one was really a terror attack or just a mentally ill person lashing out. Every act of violence is a terror attack often committed by a traumatised or disturbed person lashing out. After the speculation comes the facts: ‘The Syrian Refugee’, ‘The Iranian-German’, ‘The ISIS-inspired Tunisian’. Pages and pages will be dedicated to those people who lashed out in order to get attention, who killed in order to reach infamy.
The media plays right into the hands of not just the attackers but also those extreme right-wingers who will use the death or injury of innocents to push their worrying political agendas and the sad fact is that we continue to listen, we continue to be glued to our TV or computer screen. It’s no wonder we’re all asking what on Earth is going on. People are uttering the words ‘the world’s gone mad’ as if it’s happening all on its own and maybe it is, or maybe we’re encouraging it.
After a difficult week in Germany I asked my Syrian friend if he thought the emotion of hate was stronger than that of love. I was of the opinion that it had to be, the actions stemming from hate seemed to me, stronger than those stemming from love. He told me it wasn’t like that, it’s just that us humans concentrate so much on the negative, on the violence, on the placement of blame, that we look past all the positive things that people are doing for love.
The more I thought about it the more I realised that he was right. After our tour on Saturday I sat with 20 people from at least 8 different countries, all who came on the tour wishing to know more, to open their minds and to make a positive impact. Some were sharing life lessons from around the world, some were making an impact through the power of spoken word, some were starting a community running project and all of them were there because they still had hope; the love they felt for their fellow humans, no matter where they came from, was stronger than the hate.
As the next terror attack appeared in my newsfeed, I considered a way to turn this tide of hatred. For every news story about an innocent person being killed, we must search for the stories about those who have been saved. For every hate-filled speech that makes the headlines, we must listen to the recent speeches from the likes of Jesse Williams and Michelle Obama and understand that there are far more articulate people combating that hate. And for every organised group of people perpetrating and encouraging violence, we must remember the groups of people around the world sitting together and trying to make a positive impact. The next time you feel like the world is becoming a dark place, look for the light and you will find that what doesn’t make it to the headlines can be more powerful than what the media wants you to read.
Lorna Cannon is the founder of Refugee Voices Tours.