Ideals

Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, people who paid a high price to realise their ideals, or at least bring them closer. People who were willing to pay that price because they believed in their ideals. People as well, who fought their fight with peaceful means, because they believed that was the best way to bring about peace.

Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished. (Nelson Mandela)

After the attacks in Paris, Donald Trump said there would have been less casualties if everyone would have carried a weapon. Although it is at least questionable what an untrained civilian with a gun would be able to do against someone showing up shooting a kalashnikov, it’s an interesting point of view. Even if he is right, and less people would have died during the attacks, what would have been the price of that? Not for nothing the number of fatalities caused by firearms is way higher in the US than in the rest of the developed world. Trumps reasoning says that every citizen has the right and the duty to defend him- or herself. In Europe that is the primary task of a government and therefore the use of violence is monopolised by the state. Even in the most limited, theoretical night-watchman state, the state has the right and the duty to protect its citizens.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. (Martin Luther King)

In his speech to the French parliament Hollande stated that France is at war with IS, the ultimate form of the use of violence against other people. But can the fight against IS really be won through a war? Violence against violence, death against death… Or is something else needed? Is this a battle of ideas, ideals, things we believe in? Fighting for ideals is not a matter of the state, it cannot be. It is a fight of words, of inspiration, of conviction. It is a fight of citizens, of all of us.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Are we able to fight that fight, to do what we believe in, against the fear and the terror. Do we fight for ourselves or for everyone? Do we fight against something (terrorism, threats, injustice…) so we want to keep out the others, or do we fight for something (liberty, equality, fraternity…) so we want to include the others? Do we want to make an effort, or do we cherish our easy, comfortable life and let others do the fighting (and pay the price)? Do we really still believe in those ideals or do we in the end just care about money, power and an easy life?

 

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