Terrorism, Darren?

Dear Darren

Yesterday on your TV you say you watched a man with a couple of sharp knives outside a royalty-less Buckingham Palace being tasered down by police. As ill as probably he was / is, you felt sorry for him and you e-mailed me with two linked up questions: "What," you asked, "Makes a person a terrorist? What is terrorism?"

Then you added your own answers; "I think the powers that be label as a terrorist anyone or any cult or any society that wants to inflict pain and death on others that they hate on grounds of race, religion or their profession of superiority."

Like you, Darren, I have come to detest the constant use of that 'terrorism' word. Even in your short lifetime it has been a convenient cover for various leaders to make a misery of the lives of countless millions in the The Balkans, the Middle East, The USA, Europe and, perhaps most of all, on the continent of Africa.

In my own lifetime the Germans labelled the fliers of our WW2 air force as terrorists and we Brits have labelled and taken up arms against dozens, perhaps hundreds groups as disparate as Egyptians, Kenyans, North Koreans, Malayans and a sub-normal individual on an airplane with an ounce of explosive within the heel of his shoe. It could indeed be argued that any bearing and use or attempted use of arms by nation A within the territory of nation B constitutes an act of terrorism.

I have no idea of the cost of our so-called 'anti-terrorism' in terms of money, I doubt anyone in government knows or wants to know. It is conveniently beyond scrutiny. What a great and well-tested electioneeering tool is the threat of attack by those wishing to inflict terror on an electorate! We huddle together in face of terrorism, sheltering behind our incumbent leadership in much the same way as sheep confronted by wolves will huddle together behind the protection of their shepherd.

Fot terrorism read hatred, Darren. In my own view, hatred is the ugliest, most difficult to eradicate and certainly the most destructive part of our human genome, and one day it will destroy our species if left unchecked. But it can be checked, if not by politics or by any kind of a decree.

It can be checked by that which we recognise as beautiful. In short, by the arts' that is by the written word, especially that which we instinctively recognise as real poesy, and by that great pictorial art, 'painting', that can move us joyfully into the outer reaches of wonderfilled human experience. And perhaps most of all by music. Real music. The ancients spoke of 'the music of the spheres'. Everything spoke music, from the stars above to the movement of a leaf on an ash tree. Everything was in harmony. There was no need nor any excuse for hatred, therefore for the terrorism that  now you are querying.*  The ancients, long before the Greeks, knew stuff that we have forgotten. Milton's Paradise Lost catches a whiff of it. We had better start remembering it and regaining it before it's all too late.

And that begins with you, young man.

Your aged friend,


* At the risk of pre-advertising, my novel in progress provisionally called just "THE BOOK" addresses and elaborates on this music of the stars harmonics thing.

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