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.)