As I read the various opinion pieces, tweets and Facebook posts concerning the recent attacks in Paris (and commentary on Islam and immigration), I am left wondering if we are reaching a crossroads as a civilisation.
To our left, is a path of compassion. It is not without necessary evils – ISIS is a blight upon humanity and needs to be dealt with – but how we deal with this threat will define us. How will we let ISIS influence our attitudes and behaviour is crucial to how we measure any victory over them.
This is why this is a battle for hearts and minds, within our own society and within societies in the Middle East.
It is not merely important, it is vital that we remember not every Muslim is an extremist, and not every refugee fleeing Syria (and elsewhere) is a terrorist. By adopting the attitude that they are all radicals and extremists, we will create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby our hate and fear will act as a recruitment drive for ISIS.
We need to distinguish our society as being one of compassion, compassion to cut through the hate and fear that ISIS thrive upon. They want us to react to them, to dance to their tune, and closing our borders, turning away people who desperately need help, is exactly the sort of reaction they love.
We need to make it clear to moderate Muslims (and the Middle East in general) that we are not waging war on them. I am at a loss as to how we can do this whilst also tackling ISIS directly, but this brings me to my next point.
We cannot ignore the savage actions of ISIS, either within our own borders or in places like Syria and Iraq. One action we can take to show moderate Muslims that we are not their enemy is to defend them against ISIS, by taking meaningful steps against them. We can stand between them and ISIS, saying to the world that ISIS is not going to divide us, but rather unite us.
Naturally, we need to freeze their assets, cut off their supply lines, and erode their support base. It will take a multi-pronged approach to defeat ISIS. It certainly won’t be done by caving in to the fear they want to instill.