Paris Attacks: Refusing Emotional Manipulation

Pacific-centric map (more commonly used in East Asian countries and Australia)
Pacific-centric map (more commonly used in East Asian countries and Australia)

by  Christijan Broerse

It has been a few days since the tragedy of Paris and Beirut, but I have not been following the news.

I am simply tired.

I am tired of the reality we all have accepted, the one where emotions are manipulated, thoughts and opinions are created and memes are let loose by the media. From Amazon’s lone French flag against a navy blue screen with the words ‘solidarité’ to the peace logo drawn with the Eiffel tower. For one, I am confused. I know what ‘solidarity’ means but with whom? With what? And as for the Eiffel tower as the peace logo, it seems so clever and contrived, something I am supposed to believe in.

They feel like flat gestures to me, a means of substituting real thought and real questions. Having a meme to rely upon doesn’t make the grief easier, it clutters our consciousness, our authenticity.

When tragedy happens, the news telescopes us into the battle field of loss and aftermath. There is so much focus on the pain and the reaction, that there is little time given to the creation of tragedy and the creation of emotional manipulation. And many, I’m sure many present readers are wondering if my writing this piece is an expression of indifference. Am I callous to tragedy?

For one, I am becoming callous. But not to tragedy. I feel for the people who must suffer on the political chess board of Geo-Politics. The wrong time, the wrong place some pundits might say. But this is the way it has always been. In all wars, those who are not fighting can easily become the victims and this goes for the present conflict in Syria. The nations involved include the citizens back home. It is not a rule, it is a kind of reality I have observed. A sad stark reality that continues.

I feel for all of us, we are all so vulnerable. But vulnerable in what way? To being manipulated, over and over again by the justification of war. War is unjustified, it always will be but it is sanctioned by big business, by money. These ‘masters of war’, the people behind the scenes, the people who fund the war, whether the so-called ‘drug war’ in the United States or conflicts throughout the world keep all of ‘this’ – the political and financial chessboard – going. It is not a conspiracy theory, it is purely business. How many people are wondering about the money behind all of this? You could say ideology or religion, but unless you have military might and backing, any diatribe against another creed or culture is pure table talk. So who are the backers? Who supplied these people with the guns? Who paid for the weapons and bombs? Who really did this? My step-father was a lawyer for thirty-plus years. When anything happens in the world, he always says ‘follow the money’.

It is not terror. That is the smoke screen, the go-to-scapegoat. It is big business and we have to see these victims and these horrendous events happening not as acts of violence but as business transactions for the sake of fueling more war. It is a ‘tragedy’ but that is another word thrown around for the sake of emotional manipulation, emotional blindsiding. What happened was completely heartless, but we have to realize it was created with calculation, not randomness.

And it blinds us again and again, these events. When will we begin asking ourselves about those who are gaining financially? When will those dots be connected? It is so easy to blame a group of people – and here, I refuse to use the word ‘terrorist’. They, the ‘terrorist’, the ‘faceless cruel’ are thrown into the spotlight, always. But in the darkness behind them, the other cruel, I’m wondering about them. Those people. On centre stage, ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist’, ‘terrorist’ is repeated, knee-jerk, ad infinitum. But again, I am tired of that word because it is losing meaning the more we say it. If anything, the real terrorists are those who are making the money, behind the scenes, those with the bucket loads of money.

And again, to return to my question of ‘solidarity’ – is this ‘solidarité’ a means of dividing the world again? We are going to be ‘solid’ against whom? Division means strife and such courageous words, when used politically can create and cement further manipulated emotions. Think of the war cry of the French Revolution: ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’. That didn’t end well either.

Who wants the world divided?

Mourning is necessary, this is true but instead of burning a migrant camp or falling back into the narrow-minded comfy chairs of racism and blaming religion, why not change the questions? So yes, who is gaining from this financially? I’m very certain the money makers have no horse in the race other than to profit. There is no religion for them, there is no concern. They see all the fires of dissent, of ignorance and anger and throw oil upon it. Then they stand back, making and hedging their bets, winning on everyday people’s loss and counting their money while innocent people suffer.

And those of us watching helpless, who make comments on Facebook and send out condolences via Twitter – we haven’t changed the rhetoric, we are passive in our grief because we are allowing our emotions to blind us from the questions. To sing ‘Imagine’ is a lovely gesture in a time of grief, but I think a better reaction would be to ask questions. For one, who is really creating this arena of bloodshed and right-wing racism? Who is pulling the puppet strings? We see the stage and the certain roles, but who is behind it all? Again, not a conspiracy, but a matter of business (‘follow the money’).

Ask questions, please. I think this is a better way of honoring the dead and those reeling in the wake of cold-heartedness and gain. No more memes, no more replacements for a greater dialogue, no more escaping to left, right and centre.

Let us be intelligent with our emotions, with any stance we take.

Born and raised in the humbled but multi-cultural working class city of St. Catharines, Canada (near Niagara Falls), Christijan Broerse grew up in an environment of languages. In 2012, he traveled throughout Europe and seeing no other place more beautiful than Leipzig, he moved here two years later. Christijan is comfortable in prose and in poetry. He is also known to craft the occasional tune.

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