The horror which has unveiled in the last four weeks is unspeakably cruel and it is extremely hard not to give a emotional response. I cannot personally imagine what it must be like for the families of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines, and my heart goes out to their families.
Vile and inhuman acts such as these raise so many emotions that it can be extremely hard to control our flow of thoughts. I have spoken to a few people (friends, clients, family, colleagues) and there is a prevailing view that all British, American, and Western personnel, including all media outlets, military, and humanitarian aid workers should immediately be forced out of Syria and Iraq in order to avoid these situations from happening. Though this emotional response is justified, I fear that it also caves in to the demands to the disgusting minority which have succumbed to pure and utter evil.
The bravery of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines cannot be justified verbally or in script, and it is journalists and aid workers such as these fine gentlemen who happen to make the world a better and more just place to live in. If it was not for our brave journalist and reporters in war zones, then the world would lay in complete ignorance of the true reality of what is really happening outside of Western society. If it was not for the brave humanitarian workers, then more infants and innocent people would be starving to death from the lack of resources which is created from their homes being ripped apart as a result of a bloody civil war. The individuals who risk their life to find a channel of communication for us at home; the individuals who put their life on the line to help others less fortunate then us: these are the true heroes, and they are far braver than anyone I am likely to meet.
However, is the loss of their life worth the good they achieve whilst overseas? Is their life worth the media coverage? Is it worth the millions of people which they categorical help? Of course it is not, for their life is just as valuable as the lives of the people in which they helping. And it is this reason which further shows the huge gravity of the tragedy and inhumanity which has been inflicted to the victims and their family.
This is why it is important that as individuals, as a nation, and as a global population, we must provide even more support to the victims of war, and even more support to the brave individuals who risk their life to provide news coverage to their nations, whilst also providing more support to the aid workers who are using their talents and skills to increase the well-being of those whose lives who are being torn apart from war.
Yes, if it was myself, or any family member or friend of mine who was kidnapped and brutally decapitated in front of the whole world to see, I would undoubtedly feel pure anger, despair and rage. This hurt and pain would probably force feelings of the desire to bring back capital punishment and hold all those who are responsible to account. Though I say this with great respect and caution, I do feel that such emotional responses feed the hatred of ISIS, and for this reason we must think rationally and remain focused as observers so we can support the families of the victims, and so we also do not give in to the hate which ISIS feeds from.
It is also very easy for us as observers to cast opinions on the possible actions to take. Do we ignore the conflict in the Middle East and withdraw all media, humanitarian and military support because of ISIS? Do we respond by putting troops on the ground and try to take ISIS down through ‘liberal intervention?’ Because that really worked well in Iraq and Libya. However, neither option is likely to happen immediately since our Prime Minster has already stated that Britain and the United States are “taking direct military action” through the use of “British Tornadoes and surveillance aircraft” to help gather intelligence and logistics. Both Barrack Obama and David Cameron have announced that they will not be sending our troops in to ground combat. Though I am conflicted on what the right options should be, because a emotional part of me screams for all our resources to be removed from the areas of conflict; another part of me cries for our troops to storm the areas which ISIS operate in to tear them apart to save the innocents who they are murdering; then another cowardly part of me thinks: thank god I’m not the one who is making the decision
This is it though – as individuals we are isolated from responsibility, since this comes down to our leaders. But though we do not have direct responsibility, we can have an indirect and holistic influence in the attitudes we take and the support we provide to those who are brave enough to put their lives at risk. We must remember that though humanity can be destructive and evil, it is only usually the smallest minorities who act in these disgusting and barbaric ways. People of all race, religion and culture do not generally want war, and most people want to live in peace. I remember last August during the civil unrest in Egypt, whereby a row of Muslim men were protecting the Catholic Church from vandalism as people prayed inside. This is the society we want to live in: a accepting and supporting society, which does not cave in to the evil which tries to destroy and vandalise the humanity which we hold.
The way in which James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines were killed are cruel reminders of the evil in this world. But I also hope it is a reminder for why we must stay strong, focused and maintain our humanity through supporting our fellow man when making good through supporting our neighbours.