Being so close to the beginning of the year, I had still maintained my optimistic outlook for the upcoming future. It therefore came as something of an unwelcome surprise when I heard about the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Apart from the needless brutality, the killing of innocents, and the misinterpretation of religion behind the event (it appears, since witnesses supposedly heard the attackers saying ‘Allahu Akhbar’), I wonder why the perpetrators of this massacre in a magazine office thought that their murderous actions would be effective. As a strategy of incurring silence on someone, killing may be immediately effective, yet the outcry caused by the murder makes ‘secular martyrs’ of these men in the name of free speech. In addition, such needless violence is often interpreted by those with right-wing views as reflecting on Islam as a whole (unfortunately, one has to take such stupidity in our society into account when weighing the pros and cons of an action). Although, in this latter connection, it is worth observing that perhaps the terrorists take the polarising effects of their action into account: making the small minority of the intolerant voice their silly opinions about Islam may make Muslims more hostile to the West as a result.
This disorder in the world that was relayed to me by the newspapers was followed by disorder in my very home. During their lunchtime at home, my oldest nephew lost one of his teeth, which it appears he swallowed. The child was upset because he wanted to preserve the tooth for its eagerly anticipated final destination – underneath his pillow, for the clutches of the tooth fairy. His mother and grandmother spent an age looking about for the missing tooth at the dinner table, but were unable to find it anywhere. They then worried about the results of swallowing the tooth on the child, although I reassured them that it had said on the internet that dentists thought this was harmless. My mother then proceeded to break a plate – a supposedly unlucky omen.
The general disorder, both in the world and at home is sobering. It is difficult to be optimistic at the best of times and such events justify pessimism. Will the world ever change? Or will there always be the massacre of the innocent? When will there be peace and harmony? Will the innocent aspirations of our children and the next generation be defeated so easily, by the ruthlessness of fate? Having to ask such questions just a week after the beginning of the year fills the heart with sadness.