At one point, when the bell rang, I asked one of the students to open the door a little further down the building. He stayed away for a long time and the look on the face of the Muslim man with the beard caught my attention. He looked as if he knew more of what or who was coming and I got a little anxious.The suspicion that briefly crossed my mind, but I immediately reasoned away, was confirmed: A whole group of Muslims came in and they didn’t seem to have good intentions. When they had all sat down, among the people of our group, I took the floor.
I asked them to let the students go. I explained that they had nothing to do with their feelings of discontent. It was not a group against their ideas, it was a very peaceful group.
The leader of the group of Muslims took the lead. It turned out not to be the man with the beard but a young man, perhaps in his early twenties. He let me escort the students out, but wanted me to come back. I got my students to safety and returned to the group. Strangely enough, they were all still sitting quietly in place. They talked about preparing for their attack.
They wanted to detonate the building, right in the center of a busy city. I walked through the room, they allowed it. I looked at them. There were men, younger and older, but to my surprise there were also several women present. Where in their eyes I had only expected hatred, they looked at me curiously. In their eyes I saw my own eyes reflected.
I wasn’t afraid anymore. I spoke to them. I explained to them how I live my life and asked them about their ideas. Finally they let me go. They hadn’t changed their mind about their attack because they were desperate. But they released me. I woke up before I could decide what my next steps would be to try to prevent the attack. With one sentence in my head:
The hatred we see in the world is reflected our own hatred.
I recently read that Jihad actually stands for the holy war you wage with yourself, the war to become a better person. In my opinion, the world, with all its hot spots, is a reflection of this struggle within ourselves and with each other. If we learned not to fight with ourselves and no longer with our neighbors, wouldn’t we, on a small scale, make a good start in solving what is happening on a large scale now?
In every moment when we have hatred and fear – for ourselves, for someone we know, or for what we don’t know and don’t understand – we contribute to the chaos. Every moment the media tries their best to stuff us with their fear and hate speech, a seed is planted with us.
A seed that, when it grows, contributes to the further development of chaos. Fear is instilled in us at an early age and hatred can arise from fear. The media and politics thrive under this fear, under the hatred that stems from it.
I don’t talk in or about conspiracy theories. I also think that they sow fear and hatred and thus contribute to what we do not want. I’m not saying I know the solution either. Perhaps the beginning of the solution is as simple – and at the same time so unimaginably difficult – as giving up the struggle and looking at everything from love.
Giving up judgment, about ourselves and about others. Stopping the spread of fear. Looking at each other and SEEING each other. Focus on what units us, instead of on our differences. Wouldn’t the germ lie there, in that little thing? So that it can grow into something big, something global?
I do know that the solution does not lie in sowing more fear, more hatred. I am not saying that all the military operations out there are not necessary; I simply don’t know. But I do know what I can do: don’t get carried away and try to see everyone I see the same. To keep smiling at who I meet. And trying to find the peace in myself, just as a start. We’ll see from there, but what a great starting point!