Syria

Why the Italian Response to ISIS is the best response.

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.

Italian tweets ISIS

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.

How going to an international school has changed me

Suddenly, a whole lot more foreign issues, affect you personally. Where in the past, back home in the states, we would hear about protests, fights, issues in other countries. But they would simply be that just news, we would maybe say something along the lines of “oh how awful” and then going along with our daily lives. After attending school here, and meeting many people from all over the world including the Balkans, Turkey, Syria and Egypt, I have acquired a whole new level of concern. It is no longer simply news. When I hear about something going on I immediately go and try to contact those friends or acquaintances and make sure they are alright. Especially with the Egyptian situation, where I have a number of close friends, it was no longer some interesting current affair on the news, it was real, and I spent the day worrying hoping they would be alright and get home safely every night. Though of course they all were safe, it was still a much more real situation.  Every international news head line means so much more, and suddenly it’s more understandable, because rather than just the media view, I get to hear the view of the people, and see these issues in a whole new light.

This is great, because it shows I am learning a range of cultures and viewpoints. Though there are days I wish I didn’t have to know. I wish I had remained without this knowledge because it keeps me worrying, especially with the last few days.  However in the long run, and especially when deciding political opinions, I think this is someone everyone needs, to experience other countries politics through the people. It’s truly amazing what you will learn, because the official statements of the presidents or parliaments are not always exactly what everyone thinks.

What I have also noticed through meeting such a diverse group of people, and through traveling, is that though most online statistics, including Forbes, says America is the most patriotic country…I have not seen the evidence. Through my travels I have seen that America is nowhere near as patriotic, they are happy, and content with the way things are but not necessarily as proud. Every country I have visited flies many more flags and talk about their countries with much more pride than Americans do. I think a large reason for this is those who do feel strongly about their country, seem to be from ones who have recently or are continuing to suffer. In our living generations, the US has never experienced issues on home ground, other than one time terrorist attacks; there has never been ongoing war or suffering of the masses. These other countries, have overcome, or stayed strong through hard times, and that seems to make them a much prouder people. It’s hard to see ones country as its strongest, unless you’ve seen it at its weakest. As Americans I think what is important for us to realize how lucky we are, and to notice how well off we are in comparison to other countries. Be proud of your own country, but understand how amazing it is we live with a citizenship of so many freedoms and such a good level of living.