In the last week, as you might have read, Italians had some fantastic responses to the ISIS generated hashtag #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome (seriously guys there are only 160 characters, stop using underscores). You can read more here. Most of these responses were jokes about Italy’s already terrible government, transportation problems, and even some advice on where to eat.
Anybody who knows Italy and Rome had a laugh about these. And that, right there, is the reason this was such an amazing response to ISIS: Not fear, but a little humor.
I read about the Italian response while watching Star Wars Ep. V where Yoda tells Luke not to fall to the dark side and be overcome with hate. But back in Ep. 1 , he does reference fear into this mix.
Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
The world is a constant fight between good and bad. Always on the good side is happiness, love, and trust; and always on the opposite side, hate, anger and fear.
That’s why joking around with ISIS threats is just a little bit better response than panic and anxiety. I’m not saying let’s go Hebdo on this– seriously, learn to also be respectful; Italy’s humorous response was appropriately self-effacing, not de-humanizing. But a little laugh, a smile, is going to go a long way in a time where we are all so driven by sad and hateful news.
Fear leads to hate and is probably even worse. It is fear that drives people to shoot their neighbours, to burn down religious buildings, and cause pain to those who may not deserve it. I am too young to remember pre-9/11 but I know that after that date a new era took over, one completely run by fear. This idea of the post-9/11 world is run by the constant reminders to report any suspicious activity, and to be cautious of every bag left unattended. It’s the constant stares given to the people on the bus with you in the morning, and the comments made at passers-by, like those in Milan:
Obviously you should be reasonably cautious, and take care for the safety of yourself and your family.But don’t allow the occurrences in Libya, Australia, Denmark and Syria to scare you into not trusting those around you, or into hiding away. If we don’t act as willing consumers of all this fear that many news channels and all terrorist groups heap on our plates, we don’t feed their power. An organization, a person, a cause is only as powerful as the power that you give it. The less fear we have of these organizations, and the more faith we put in our own armies, governments, each other, and in the idea this will stop, it will, sooner rather than later.