Responsibility for the recent Paris attacks lies solely with the perpetrators. Almost certainly they will have intended for their latest hideous act to cause fear and outrage, and for the inevitable backlash to persuade more willing recruits to join their cause. Those of us who aren’t persuaded need to respond rightly, without self-righteousness…
Give Peace A Chance
Let’s be clear, responsibility for the recent Paris attacks lies solely with the perpetrators: they chose to do it. But individuals are both ’cause and effect’ and they don’t act in isolation. ISIS is a response to the US-led war on Iraq, and all nations who backed that war had a hand in provoking that response. The members of ISIS are motivated by the toppling of Saddam Hussein and subsequent events in Iraq. We may not wish to hear that right now, but that’s what they’re saying.  Almost certainly they will have intended for their latest hideous act to cause fear and outrage, and for the inevitable backlash to persuade more willing recruits to join their cause.
Those of us who aren’t persuaded need to respond rightly, without self-righteousness. So what is an appropriate response to these dreadful events? Do we join in with those who stereotype all Muslim immigrants as demanding special treatments and wanting to impose sharia law on their hosts? Do we urge our government to meet violence with violence? Or do we wake up to the fact that our aggressive thoughts and speeches have a tendency to escalate and are liable to incite a similar response from those on the receiving end?
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
The internet is currently awash with references to an imminent ‘third world war’ or some or other ongoing ‘holy war’. When was the world not at war? Such claims are most likely to serve those who wish to divide and rule. Emotions are understandably high, but we mustn’t allow fear, anger and resentments to cloud our judgement.
As for talk of there being no bargaining with terrorists – inevitably there will at some point be a negotiated settlement as both sides in this latest conflict turn their eyes towards new enemies. That prospect may seem improbable right now, but there are precedents worth recalling. For example, the US sat down with the Vietnamese in 1973 after almost twenty years of fighting, and in 1994 the UK government negotiated with the IRA to end almost a century of bloody conflict. 
No one likes uncertainty and change, yet we live in a world of impermanence, the future isn’t set in stone, and there are as many reasons for optimism as there are for pessimism.
Moreover, all of us must one day give up everything that we cherish and jealously protect. Our dying sooner or later is an inevitable consequence of having been born, only the manner and timing of our demise is uncertain. Either we embrace these undeniable facts and learn to live fearlessly and generously, or we remain fearful, mean-spirited and tight-fisted for the remainder of our brief lives.
May all who are suffering now enjoy peace, health, wealth and happiness.
 Martin Chulov, ‘Isis: The Inside Story’ ‘in The Guardian, Thursday 11 December 2014.
 Abdel Bari Atwan, Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, Saqi Books, 2015, p.224-5.