Essay Non-Fiction posted February 29, 2016

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Cure for Cancer

by kiwisteveh

No, not that cancer! The one I'm talking about is a four-letter word, starting with F.

No, not that word! The one I will be discussing is Fear. There, I've capitalised it to stress its importance. Fear is a cancer that is spreading rapidly throughout the world, just as the other cancers take over cells in their host bodies and replace them with their own insidious tentacles of malignant growth.

If you're reading this, you quite possibly read my previous essay titled 'All Christians Are Scum!' Don't worry, the title is not indicative of my real feelings, but was designed to attract attention, as is this one, I guess. That post stirred up quite a bit of controversy and a recurring theme in the conversations I had with reviewers was the F-Word, Fear. It became apparent that Fear could make people change from normal, well-meaning, neighbourly people, into suspicious and distrustful xenophobes.

It opened my eyes to something that may have crossed my mind before, but which I had never followed through to its logical conclusion - terrorism works by instilling terror, Fear's big brother. Many people in countries directly affected by terrorism (not yet my own, thank goodness) are fearful enough to go against their naturally peaceable and friendly instincts. Those who would previously go out of their way to help little old ladies across the street, or lend a hand to a neighbour, now want to build walls, restrict access to their countries and/or communities and even remove those who may have been quite happily living there for years.

To this curious, outside observer of the peculiar political rituals the United States goes through every four years, the reason for the strangest political oddity of recent times becomes crystal clear. Donald Trump is romping along, miles ahead of his Republican rivals, simply because voters are afraid. The rest of the world looks on aghast at what most consider to be a huge blunder, the increasing likelihood of a sexist, racist xenophobe occupying the Oval Office, and, worse, becoming Commander in Chief with the power to unleash a nuclear arsenal.

Others have already compared his rise to that of Hitler. Some of the reasons for his meteoric rise are the same, and the tactics he is employing are frighteningly familiar. The main one is to create a scapegoat, and then use the climate of Fear to promote himself as the strong man, the only one who can save the country from these terrible, terrible 'outsiders.'

Many other countries are affected. Our FanStory members from the UK tell me they are fearful of being overwhelmed by a flood of migrants (although a measured look at statistics suggests that this is perception, rather than fact). They tell stories of certain areas where 'Europeans' are afraid to venture, and they question the motives of the leaders who have unleashed this hellish disaster. Other European countries are in the same boat, and the boat is rocking dangerously, about as sea-worthy as some of the flimsy craft used to ferry refugees from Africa to mainland Europe.

But I am not here to describe and analyse this cancer, or to highlight its effects and mortality rate. In my title, I promised a cure, and I am about to provide one.

My cure is simple and dramatic. Once you have finished rolling around on the floor, laughing, you will probably file it in the same bin as the unicorn, space tourism and the driver-less car - oh, wait; two of those three are already becoming reality.

Instead of showering the 'enemy' with bombs, I propose showering them with kindness: gifts such as food, books, schools, clinics and computers. Send armies, not of soldiers, but of doctors, nurses, teachers, technicians, engineers and builders. I'm talking about air-drops of food and supplies, as well as offers of assistance through diplomatic channels. Let's offer scholarships to bright students, sponsorship to those who want to train to help their own people. There are a thousand ways in which the west can improve the lives of the people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other hotbeds of terrorism.

How would this work as a cure for the cancer of terrorism? I see two major effects, both wrapped around the ability of fanatics to recruit more jihadists to their cause.

Firstly, it is difficult to convince someone to kill an enemy who is bombarding you with gifts.

"America is the Great Satan! We must attack them."

"But we haven't had our food parcels this week - let's wait till after that..."

Secondly there is something that seems glaringly obvious to me, but apparently is beyond the limited comprehension of most politicians and all military big-wigs. Every time you kill an innocent civilian, or even a confirmed fighter, you create a new generation of hate - family, friends, villagers, tribesmen, colleagues - all rally to the cause.

Last week it was all over the news, a successful strike which took out an ISIS commander. Has no one heard of the Hydra? Cut off one head and another two grow back in its place - that's exactly the effect I am talking about. What about the dozens of other men, women and children killed in that missile strike? They all have parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, all now burning with a newly refreshed hatred of America. Let's be conservative and say that 50% of those affected are now ready to die to exact revenge. How can we not see that we have not weakened the enemy? We have strengthened him.

So, let's starve the zealots of their fiercest recruits, the disaffected youths, the vengeful family members, the millions of miserable souls who see no way out of their tortured lives other than to fight. Contented people won't join ISIS or El Quaeda, so let's give them that contentment. Give them peace, a school for their children, a home and a fair share of what the rest of us call necessities.

The best part of my plan? It won't cost a penny. How many school books and food parcels can you buy for the price of a bomb? Scrap a few missiles and you'll have enough to build a school or to equip and staff a small clinic. Sack a few of the war-gamers sitting at their consoles in the States, targeting the smart missiles and destroying lives at the click of a mouse. Replace them with logistics experts who can organise the supply and delivery of goods, engineers who can rebuild roads and cities and shattered infrastructure, and doctors and teachers and counsellors and farmers and, and, and.......

Let the killing stop. let the healing begin.


I can dream, can't I?

Before the protests start flooding in....
I am not totally naive. This is indeed a dream and one that can't happen overnight. It will take generations, but isn't it worth it?
There are other ways to combat ISIS and similar groups. Why can't we find out who is supplying them with weapons and equipment and shut down that supply?
I could go on, and on, and on...
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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