Mindless acts of terror do not surprise us anymore. The tragedy in London last Wednesday killed four people, among them an unarmed police officer, and injured 12 others: one German, one Pole, two Greeks, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one Irish, one Chinese, three French, one American and one Italian.
As a former Londoner, but most importantly as a millennial observing the atrocities that happen around the world in the name of religion, I wish I could say I was surprised that London has now joined the recent string of locations threatened by terrorism. Instead, I feel dread for where our tolerance and otherwise globalized perspective is headed.
There are no religions that are entirely pacifistic, as there are no conflict-free societies. Some who read sacred texts literally and with no critical mind, find their religion guides them toward murder. Equally, that same text can advocate for peace, brotherhood and self-sacrificing love. What makes a difference is which parts of the text will speak to believers and urge them to action.
Ultimately, it all is a matter of perspective. The Bible that symbolized hope and liberation for the black slaves in the United States and the Caribbean was the same Bible that the slave owners read to justify their actions. Arguably, jihad and the Christian crusades might seem similar in concept, although readers of those religious texts might not immediately realize it.
These acts of terror are and will continue to be committed by a minority of people. They do not represent an entire religion. In that, we should be careful not to allow the recent terrorist attacks to divide us further. Emotive and spontaneous responses to big events like this threaten our power.
And the power lies in us to say “him,” rather than “them,” when we refer to Khalid Masood, born Adrian Elms, who carried out these attacks. We should label him as a murderer and a sociopath and a terrorist, not just a Muslim.
Incendiary language, finger-pointing and blame-shifting all have the same effect. A simplified narrative of good and evil simply fosters fear in a modern society, where our differences should instead be celebrated, not curbed.
We have a choice as to how to respond to those events and face them together. It is easy to divide by faith. It is easy to label “us against them.” It should not be Muslims versus Christians, or the West versus the Muslim world. History has shown us time and again that we are stronger together, not apart.
When the terror attack occurred in Westminster, nurses and doctors that happened to be in the scene rushed to help with an admirable calmness and solidarity. The police were remarkably swift and competent. Other European countries showed overwhelming support, even with the imminent Brexit. Religious leaders from across the world urged us to speak against fundamentalism, raise awareness and start a long-awaited discussion condemning such actions as extremist, not as stemming from a particular religion.
The way that communities came together in light of the London terrorist attack gives me some hope. This is the power of together. This is what will defeat terrorism.
Martha Petrocheilos is a student at the Law Center. MILLENNIAL’S CORNER appears every other Tuesday.