A week ago I was tired of blogging and not sure I’d ever write another post (though really I knew I would.) This is my second post in 3 days, after weeks of nothing, and now I’m back joining in Ten Things of Thankful. How could I not write this weekend, when I have so much to be thankful for?
A week ago the idea of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion didn’t even exist. Now we’ve got almost 800 people in our Facebook group, we have a Facebook page, and we’ve got a hashtag on Twitter: #1000Speak. We have a gorgeous logo, designed by my lovely friend Pam Bennett.
Things have moved so fast. It’s extremely exciting and at times a little overwhelming. At one moment on Wednesday I was having three separate Facebook chats, writing a blog post and firing emails back and forth with Pam as she worked on the design.
I love it though! I love that people feel encouraged and inspired to take part. I feel gratitude pour from me; my heart is singing when I think of the amazing people taking part and the amazing things some of them have already written. Yesterday I asked people to share a few words about why they’d joined and what being part of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion means to them. I had tears in my eyes reading the responses and shivers down my spine. (And I don’t say things like that unless I mean it!)
Somehow, the time was just right for this. All it needed was someone to suggest it. I’m not sure it would have happened this way a year ago, maybe not even a month.
For me, the story of 1000 Voices Speak begins a week ago on Wednesday. We all know what happened in Paris on the 7th of January. It was on Twitter where I first saw the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack . Updates came fast, and I kept getting drawn back to Twitter to check for more.
Within minutes of that first tweet, more came attributing the attacks to extremist Islamic terrorists. It didn’t take long for some people to start blaming Muslims in general, and soon anxiety spread that this attack would create another wave of Islamophobia.
However, and thankfully, it may just have done the opposite. Ordinary Muslims and Muslim leaders were quick to tweet messages like the one below:
As a Muslim, killing innocent people in the name of Islam is much, much more offensive to me than any cartoon can ever be. #CharlieHebdo
— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) January 7, 2015
These were soon followed by this kind of tweet:
To ask Muslims to justify themselves after today’s attack is as stupid as asking a Catholic to justify the Spanish Inquisition. — Gary Bainbridge (@Gary_Bainbridge) January 7, 2015
There was something else too, something that I began to notice with the tweets calling for newspapers to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) January 7, 2015
Something was changing in our response to terrorist attacks. Changing in a good way. I felt it all day, and then in the evening I saw the tweet that summed it up:
— Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) January 7, 2015
We are not afraid to stand together, whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or of no faith or everyone. We are saying no to terrorism dividing us. Hands reached out and typed words of support for each other. They reached out on January 7th, and they’ve gone on doing so.
Ironically, Islamophobes and terrorists are in agreement with each other: both think extremists are the true face of Islam — Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) January 10, 2015
By Sunday, people were marching in Paris in solidarity of the right to free speech, even if (especially if) we sometimes disagree with what people say. It was amazing to see so many people walking together. I may be one of very few people to say this, but I felt pleased to see even the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who had reportedly been asked not to attend. If they can walk together in Paris, perhaps eventually they can walk together at home. But while this walk took place, I read this tweet.
I was one of many who didn’t know about this massacre. I soon found an article in the Guardian, detailing a horrific attack by Boko Haram on Nigerian villagers. The elderly, women and children died, because they could not run fast enough to escape the randomly fired bullets. This next tweet was my own.
I also posted about this on Facebook and Lizzi from Considerings saw my post. She wrote, “What is WRONG with the world ?!?!?” This was my reply:
Fear of others, dehumanising opponents (seeing them as less than human and so it’s not murder.) We do this too, if we refer to terrorists as vermin etc.
Phillip Zimbardo is worth reading on this. He’s most famous for the Standford Prison Experiment, and has also written about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. I think he testified at one soldier’s trial. http://www.prisonexp.org/
Also Arthur Deikman’s book Them and Us explains a lot. (I’m reading it just now.) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Them…/dp/097200212X/ref=sr_1_3…
Lizzi commented that she’d just written a post trying to counter this kind of thing, I read her post, and the idea for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion was born. I’m so thankful it has taken off. I am so thankful those journalists and those people in Nigeria did not die in vain. Their voices may never be heard again, but we can speak for them; we can keep saying, “Enough” to violence and bring compassion sweeping across the globe. It is happening, and our 1000 voices will be heard.