In a recent conversation with Lindsay the question of morality was discussed, and it is that conversation which now seems to demand some further attention. What is the issue here, in the light of the Paris killings? Is it, as well as the inevitable question of where we go from here, a moral issue, or is it one of survival? I think it is too easy to take a moralistic stance, and thus imply one has taken the high ground. In effect, to do that is to divorce oneself from the happenings, to "go up into one's head" or intellectualise the situation. That can even lead to spiritual pride as well as risking damning all those others "out there" who are not of one's nationality, race, creed, religion, political persuasion, or what-have-you.
And neither do I find the high-flown language coming from the French and American presidents particularly helpful either. The terrorists were not attacking French values, because those values are shared by many countries, races, religionists and others. How dare anyone try to be partisan about high standards shared by so many. As the Conservative Party were so fond of saying until recently about the economic mess the UK found itself in, "We're in this together!"
So let me be clear. I do not see the current issue as a moral issue. To take a moral stance one must first be alive to do so. There are eight terrorists and (currently) 129 innocent people dead who, presumably, can no longer hold a moral view. It is not for me, and I would suggest no-one else, to take a moral stance on their behalf, no matter how good and self-righteous that may make us feel. Thus, for me, the issue is one of survival; personal as well as group survival. Now either one can take the view, in light of these killings, that it is right to "turn the other cheek", and thus beg for more of the same, a particularly sick philosophy I feel, or we can admit that we wish to survive, own our instincts, and get on with the practical business of physical survival.
Once that step is taken, we can begin to start the process of thinking, yes thinking! Our distraught emotions have then served their purpose of awakening us to a very real threat. In any conflict, the attackers always hold the advantage; the defenders - usually far more numerous - the disadvantage. A response to this, and any other, terrorist incident requires an honest, thought-out response, not a knee-jerk, prejudiced reaction disguised by some sense of self-righteousness. President Hollande referred to the Paris killings as an act of war. Was it? Was it really? If so it is a somewhat one-sided war, because the air attacks on ISIL do not seem to be having much, if any, effect.
Democracies are slow to respond to aggression. It seems to have ever been thus. But there comes a point when a defensive posture is not enough. We need to open our eyes, and keep them open. We need to see that help may come from unexpected sources, if we do not alienate others who are just as innocent (even if they carry the "wrong" tags) as those who were murdered in Paris.
There may be no easy answers. We may need to take actions which make us feel uncomfortable, even distressed. And we need, always, to question where we are going, and the means we employ to get there. The ends do not justify the means, because the means all too often can change the ends.
Well, I have said my piece. Pouring out my emotions here would not have helped me, and might well have been unacceptable to my readers. If nothing else, I have tried to be honest in my thinking, and allow some clarification of thought to emerge. Whatever happens from now on is bound to affect our inner selves just as much as our outer world. God give us wisdom!