Last night I had a dream. This is how it went.
One day two women, both in their 30’s, walked into a crowded market square in Bagdad, coming from different directions, and each stood in an opposite corner of the square, gradually moving towards the centre where the crowd was thickest.
Each one was wearing a suicide bombing vest under their traditional Muslim outer garments and each was looking stressed and nervous as they tried to gather the courage they needed in order to do what they were about to do.
Then one of them was stopped by the thought, “why am I doing this? And to my own people? Have I gone completely mad?”
She had been made to believe she’d be a martyr, a hero to “the cause”, and virtually a bride to Allah. By why, she wondered, would Allah want a bride who’d been blasted into little pieces?
She looked deeply inside herself and realised that what she was about to do was not really what she wanted. Causing death or injury to others for any cause whatsoever just didn’t feel right to her. Many of the people here were defenceless woman and children who had never personally done her any harm. So without another thought and completely spontaneously she struggled out of her suicide vest and laid it on the ground, hastily rearranging her clothes to maintain her respectability and dignity as she did so. She new there would be consequences, but she’d face those later.
Fascinatingly, the woman on the other side of the square, a complete stranger to the first women, did exactly the same thing. They had not spoken a word to each other, indeed they were hardly aware of each other’s presence. Yet it was as if they had both had the same thoughts and the same reactions at the same time, spontaneously.
What’s more, while this was happening a man in long white traditional robes was having a similar experience in a busy street some blocks away. He was also wearing a vest laden with explosives and also decided to end his particular involvement in the cycle of violence by removing it and simply laying it on the ground.
Then I woke up.
I realised then that, like most of us, I had been extremely disturbed by the many violent acts that are going on in the world right now, and of course this is not restricted to Muslim activists.
Apart from the multiple simultaneous attacks in Paris, there has been the shooting down of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Desert, the shooting down of a Russian bomber by the Turkish Air Force, countless suicide bombings in various countries, hostages taken in Somalia, stabbings and shootings in Israel and the West Bank, and then there is the heart-rending sight of millions of refugees fleeing Syria, to name a few that spring to mind right now.
Clearly the world is hurting badly and this continual violence does not help. It actually adds considerably to our suffering. When a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil it causes a tornado in Texas, so they say, and by the same token when people suffer and die in one country, it affects us all.
Please understand I mean no disrespect to people of any religion or political persuasion. What I am saying is that we all need to wake up because beneath the politics and religious divides we are one body. That IS the bigger picture: We are one body. When one part of the body receives an injury, the whole body hurts.
It’s time for us all to wake up and smell the coffee, like the two woman and the man in my dream, and walk away from the madness of violence. In my estimation you only live once – you only get one chance to wonder and marvel about life on this beautiful planet of ours – and your a long time dead.
We can turn this Earth into a paradise and the way to begin is, as I have said, to walk away from the madness of violence, whatever the consequences. We must strive for a higher conscious awareness so we can see what we do to ourselves, and then choose to stop doing it.
As John Lennon so aptly put it, “War is over, IF YOU WANT IT.” And if we want it we must stand up and visibly walk away from war and violence – en mass.