16.12.08

Innocent souls fluttering by...

Innocent souls fluttering by,
A divine peace on their glowing faces,
A glittering sword came flashing by,
And reduced them to traces.
Their ashes mingled with dust and flew,
Their silent screams echoing,
The sky turned to an azure blue,
The river stealthily flowing,
Like a thief in the dead of the night,
Carrying a message to the oceans.
The birds too took flight,
In one swift, sweeping motion,
A long journey lay ahead,
For the river and the birds.
But the message should be carried on,
Long echoed the words.
For their sacrifice won't be forgotten,
Their memories won't die,
As long as they carry on
And time passes by.


This poem was written about a month back and I can't exactly remember what drove me to write it, but as I was typing it out I realised that scarily (indeed!) it fits in after the recent terror attacks.


According to Wikipedia: “Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.” There is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Most common definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.
Terrorism is no new concept. As far back as the history takes us, there have been acts the sole purpose of which was to generate fear. The earliest known organization that exhibited a similar outlook to that of a modern terrorist organization was the Zealots of Judea. Known to the Romans as sicarii (Latin plural of Sicarius 'dagger-' or later contract- killer), they carried on an underground campaign of assassination of Roman occupation forces, as well as any Jews they felt had collaborated with the Romans. Their motive was an uncompromising belief that they could not remain faithful to the dictates of Judaism while living as Roman subjects. Eventually, the Zealot revolt became open, and they were finally besieged and committed mass suicide at the fortification of Masada.

Although terrorism has been used since the beginning of recorded history as a tool or a tactic, it can be relatively hard to define. Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination. Obviously, a lot depends on whose point of view is being represented. For the weaker side in a conflict, it has always been a rather effective tactic.

Early practitioners of terrorism, such as the Zealots and the Assassins did not leave any particular philosophy or doctrine on their use of terrorism. With the exception of spectacular failures such as Guy Fawkes' religiously inspired attempt to assassinate King James I and both Houses of Parliament in England, terrorism did not separate itself or its progress beyond the normal practices of warfare at that time. Some even go as far as to negate calling these incidents terrorism at all. As political systems became more sophisticated, and political authority was viewed as less of a divine gift and more as a social construct, new ideas about political conflict developed.

In the early 20th Century nationalism and revolutionary political ideologies were the principal developmental forces acting upon terrorism. When the Treaty of Versailles redrew the map of Europe after World War I by breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire and creating new nations, it acknowledged the principle of self-determination for nationalities and ethnic groups. This encouraged minorities and ethnicities, which did not receive recognition, to campaign for independence or autonomy.

Since the end of World War II, terrorism has accelerated its development into a major component of contemporary conflict. Primarily in use immediately after the war as a subordinate element of anti-colonial insurgencies, it expanded beyond that role. In the service of various ideologies and aspirations, terrorism sometimes supplanted other forms of conflict completely. It also became a far-reaching weapon capable of effects no less global than the intercontinental bomber or missile. It has also proven to be a significant tool of diplomacy and international power for states inclined to use it.

As a method of conflict that continues to exist and has advanced through several millennia, terrorism has flourished in this modern age with the aid of technology and continues adapt to meet the challenges of emerging forms of conflict. Terrorists have developed focused techniques for specified attacks and in the wake of some recent activities we can also safely say that they have managed to come out of their cocooned, subordinate role in the nation-state conflicts only to become notoriously prominent as international influences in their own right.

Due to the increase in information outlets, and competition with increasing numbers of other messages, terrorism now requires a greatly increased amount of violence or novelty to attract the attention it requires. The tendency of major media to compete for ratings and the subsequent revenue realized from increases in their audience size and share produces pressures on terrorists to increase the impact and violence of their actions to take advantage of this sensationalism.

I got around 30 different e-mails, read dozens of articles and blog posts and heard scores of speeches by the 'leaders'. Be it these so-called leaders, the celebrity-fraternity, the writers, the journalists or the common blogger... everyone had zillions of complaints and not one viable alternative. Why? Why blame the politicians when we are the ones who chose them? Why blame the authorities for not keeping a check when you can't look into your conscience and as yourself a simple question- whether you had followed the rules or not? I reckon its better if instead of focussing on what HAS BEEN done (or rather NOT done), we now channel our energies to what CAN be done.

As we move to a new paradigm, civil liberties and individual rights must be preserved – the cure must not be worse than the disease. If we are to maintain the values upon which this Nation was founded, a certain amount of risk must be accepted.

In partnership with the media and educational institutions, the following steps can be undertaken to assure ourselves of a terrorism-free future:

• Develop consistent and trustworthy messages that realistically, truthfully, comprehensibly and persuasively convey the risks we face, along with the ambiguity about when, where, and how those risks might materialize.

• Maintain credibility and public trust by keeping the public fully informed and by providing accurate, science-based information.

• Provide clear, concrete recommendations for personal safety actions – both during and following crisis – that enables a choice of options (if available) and enhanced perceptions of control.

• Identify evidence-based strategies for communicating these messages and involve psychologists in the shaping and empirical evaluation of communications.

• Continue to engage the media as an ally in the timely dissemination of accurate and actionable information. To do so will involve improving media relations in advance of a crisis, sharing information, and working aggressively to minimize suspicion and mistrust. Effective crisis communication strategies and plans at all levels of government and within the private sector should be developed in collaboration with one another and respective media outlets.

• In collaboration with the Department of Education and state and local partners, consideration should be given to implementing developmentally appropriate education at the elementary school, high school and college/university levels.

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Author's note: I tried to revamp the look of my blog (as if you didn't notice!) and  in doing so I have managed to lose the links of most of the blogs in blogroll. If you visit the blog, please leave a comment so that I can link your blog once again. Inconvenience is regretted. (Ha! You think I meant that, didn't you. You were mistaken dearie... BUT... DO leave a comment else I won't be able to blogroll you again.)

15 comments:

AP said...

The pooem I've already commented upon so I won't do that again.

In your interesting, comprehensive history of terrorism you, like so many of us around us, including me at times as well, fail to consider the gistory of non-European and non-Neo-European civilisations. The only place you talk of the Orient, if one may use such a term, is when alluding to "anti-colonial insurgencies". The Indian subcontinent, for instance, has a whole hsitory of political and social terrorism, which is, as your rightly point out, quite, quite difficult to define and/or categorise.

You ignore also South America, Africa and much else of Asia, especially Central Asia, the hotbed of what may be regarded, if one may be bold, ancient and medieval terrorism.

Of course, you don't have to be an encyclopedia but then when you're discussing about an issue in a tone which indicates seriousness, as also hints at a little bit of periodisation, you should, perhaps, have broadened yours, as well as your readers' horizon by considering the said points (though it's not surprising that you don't- that's the way we're taught history, and about everything else...to look at things from a European context/perspective).

Another important shortcoming. You fail to provide us with anything which can really "assure" us "of a terrorism-free future". All you sugest is about media, how it should behave, how the govt./governing body/powers-that-be should react to a terrorist attack, what their public-image/relationship strategy shoul be. The only appealing point is made in a highly frivolous fashion- to have "developmentally appropriate education". Pray, what do you mena by that?

Any compliation to long-term solutions to terrorism should involve steps aiming to tackle the problem at its root. In the case of jihadi terrorism, which, presumably, is the context of this discourse, there are qute a lot of what are called "root-causes" which have to be addressesd with patient determination. Globally, it has got to do with the treatment of the Muslims, a sense of lost glory perhaps, a culminaton of a process started log back with the Renaissance. More specifically, with the injustices of the immediate past, of the fall of the Caliphate,...of the Soviet incursions, the American meddlings...still more specifically, of the loss of Kashmir,...of numerous riots in the 80's, of the babri Masjid, of Bombay 1993, of the Godhra carnage, of the Iraq War, of a many, many more things. A concrete resolution to all these will have to be found if jihadi terrorism-and we still have so many other forms left!-is to be eradicated. This, obviously, won't happen in a few years.

I think there're quite a lot of things missing in this comment...but 'twill be victual enough for thought!

AP said...

My dear girl something strange happened...I hope my long comment hasn't vanished!

In any case, the new look, to deliver an unasked for valure-judgement, is not very appealing. You could think about moving the ads somewhere else...

Anonymous said...

as always im impressed

Creation said...

@ Anubhav

Thank you for your insightful comments.

You are perfectly justified in pointing out that I have failed to consider a lot in this short piece of mine.

Although, I have mentioned zealots as the initiators of this extrmely heinous practice, but Zealots and assassins (Hashhashin) were not, however, really terrorists in the modern sense. Terrorism is best thought of as a modern phenomenon. Its characteristics flow from the international system of nation-states, and its success depends on the existence of a mass media to create an aura of terror among many people.

In 1793, Maxmilien Robespierre's sentiment laid the foundations for modern terrorists, who believe violence will usher in a better system. Robespierre, one of twelve heads of the new state, had enemies of the revolution killed, and installed a dictatorship to stabilize the country. He justified his methods as necessary in the transformation of the monarchy to a liberal democracy:

"Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic."

But the characterization of terrorism as a state action faded, while the idea of terrorism as an attack against an existing political order became more prominent.

In the 1950s, terrorist groups with a nationalist agenda have formed in every part of the world. hese included the flowering of ethnic nationalism, anti-colonial sentiments in the vast British, French and other empires, and new ideologies such as communism.

Terrorist groups with a nationalist agenda have formed in every part of the world. For example, the Irish Republican Army grew from the quest by Irish Catholics to form an independent republic, rather than being part of Great Britain.

Similarly, the Kurds, a distinct ethnic and linguistic group in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, have sought national autonomy since the beginning of the 20th Century. The Kurdistan Worker's Party(PKK), formed in the 1970s, uses terrorist tactics to announce its goal of a Kurdish state. The Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are members of the ethnic Tamil minority. They use suicide bombing and other lethal tactics to wage a battle for independence against the Sinhalese majority government.

International terrorism became a prominent issue in the late 1960s, when hijacking became a favored tactic (Yes! I was surprised to fumble upon this little piec of information, but surprisingly enough, the first 'modern' hijacking was in 1968 when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked an an El Al Flight.)

This era also gave us our contemporary sense of terrorism as highly theatrical, symbolic acts of violence by organized groups with specific political grievances.

Then came the politically motivated bloody events at the 1972 Munich Olympics. According to counterterrorism expert Timothy Naftali- this was when "The terms counterterrorism and international terrorism formally entered the Washington political lexicon..."

You befittingly pointed out jihad. Religiously motivated terrorism is considered the most alarming terrorist threat today. Groups that justify their violence on Islamic grounds- Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah—come to mind first. But Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and other religions have given rise to their own forms of militant extremism and cannot be ignored either. If I were to mention just one of these and conveniently choose to glass over the rest, it would've been grossly unfair.

As you must have noticed (I presume you have), that this took in a lot amount of research. That is one of the reasons why it took so long for me to post this.

As for the "root causes" of terrorism... I refrained from identifying these as it is not easy to define and restrict them to certain parameters. Here's why: they change over time. Listen to terrorists in different periods and you'll hear different explanations. Then, listen to the scholars who explain terrorism. Their ideas change over time too, as new trends in academic thinking take hold. Many writers begin statements about "the causes of terrorism" as if terrorism were a scientific phenomenon whose characteristics are fixed for all time, like the 'causes' of a disease, or the 'causes' of rock formations. Terrorism isn't a natural phenomenon though. It is name given by people about other people's actions in the social world.People who explain terrorism are also influenced by prominent trends in their professions. These trends change over time. I have talked about socialism, natinoalism and religious justifications as causes. This is a generalisation of all the specific causes or (should i say 'triggers'?)that you have mentioned.

I need to say more, bu there is a powercut and I should publish this for I don't have a saved copy of it.
I will return to dwell on the last few points that you have mentioned.

Abhijeet !! who else ? said...

Nice work i wont relate it to "recent terror attack" as u wrote this long ago;
well i am speechless i have had never gone through Literature and high nodes;
I request to you to write some cheerful rhymes too for Children of the world.

Creation said...

@ Anubhav (again!)

As you can see, your comment had not vanished. It isn't displayed on the blog unless I moderate it and hence the confusion.

I will be back again with response to the last few points that you have mentioned. But for now, I have to return to my presentation (which is scheduled for Friday) for I still don't have a topic proposal!

Creation said...

@ Anonymous

Amps, right?

My dear bro, there is an option of mentioning just your name/URL if nothing else... why don't you use that?

It may also lead to more readership for your blog!

Thanks for the comments. Although, you don't always have to be impressed... try critiquing your lil sis for a change! :-)

Aupsy-The cOOlest One!! said...

on ur way to becoming a journalist haan??!! I wont be surprised if u go there, the way u've started to write ;)

Btw, the post was quite informative :)
and yeah, the poem was the best part!!

Creation said...

@ Abhijeet.

Thanks for dropping by. Well, I'm glad you appreciate my work and even more glad that you didn't link the poem to the terror attacks. But, as a matter-of-fact, I can't read the poem without instantly relating it to the terror attacks.
When I wrote it, I was in a semi-inebriated sort of a state and have no recollections of what drove me to write it. After that it just lay forgotten in some deep dark corner of my cell phone (I wrote it on my cell... yep!). The next time I read it was when I was going through my cell phone looking for something to post on my blog and as I was typing it out, all I could think was the terror attacks. So, this is how the poem has been etched in my memory...

Creation said...

@ Abhijeet

And oh!

You request will surely be considered.
Do remind me to mail you my first ever hindi poem... believe me, you'll be laughing for days altogether after reading it!

Creation said...

@ Ayushman

Nope. NOT on my way to become a journalist. I ahve something else on my mind...

and well, that was the intention... to provide some information.

Thnx a ton!

*bows*

Anand said...

I like the way u put ur thots across. Ur like me a bit.
I'd visit u some more..Keep it up. :-)
Anand.

Anand said...

Hey, I normally wudn't ask/tell any one to do this (too self respecting dude that I am) but I'd love it if u put ur comments on my newest post n tell anyone n everyone u want to,to do it too, Since every comment on my new post and any other post of mine will give away Rs 50 each for education for the poor...n' free HUGS. yeahhh :-) I shall be counting.
Thanx buddy.
Anand.

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youth4equality said...

hey... came across your blog randomly...
the poetry was amazing, i must say...
keep up the good work...
Cheers... Kanoo