I was brought up with terrorism. As a child on the island of Cyprus during the struggle for independence from Britain I heard bombs going off every night. Friends of my parents were killed. My school as a fortress. The school bus was an armoured personnel carrier and we crouched inside.

The attack in Nice last night demonstrates that it is impossible to prevent all terrorism. You don't need bombs or guns, a vehicle will do. There are any number of ways of killing people, damaging property and disrupting services and supplies.

Terrorism is the inculcation of fear by the infliction of unexpected or even random acts of cruelty, especially in a publicly conspicuous manner. The attack in Nice combines numerous factors. It shows that one Arab is capable of killing a lot of French people which gives the message that superior armament is not necessarily decisive. It took place in Nice, one of the finest cities and a classic example of what Europeans have got. It took place on the French national day, thus symbolising an attack on the whole project of what it is to be French. In these senses it was a textbook example of terrorism. The fact that it was unexpected adds to the shock and horror we all feel. The person who did this was by no means 'mindless'. It is no good treating such things as sickness or insanity. One needs to try to understand the causes, the 'roots' as we say in Buddhism.

Although improvements in 'security' are always possible, they do not strike at the root of the problem. One assumes that the Nice attack is related to the wars currently going on in the Middle East and North Africa. Without going into a detailed analysis, one cannot escape the strong impression that those wars have as much to do with outside interference as with hatred and rivalry between groups living in the region. After all, those same groups had lived together for a long time before all this trouble got so inflamed. We are all implicated. We cannot just blame wicked people in far away lands.

In the Syrian war alone the casualty rate is about 100,000 deaths per annum. That is considerably more than died in Nice dying by violence every day for the past five years. If that were happening in Europe, what would the newspapers be saying?

The law of karma is just as relevant to international relations as it is to individual destinies. What goes around comes around. Vengeance breeds more vengeance. Who is in a position to stop this wheel turning?

We all should play a part. We each have a role to play in making the world a better place. That role is not fulfilled by making ever greater demands, nor by xenophobia, nor by imposing our system on people with different histories. Locally, it is fulfilled by our efforts to build trust and co-operation in families and communities, by improving our environment not just for our own sake, and in welcoming the stranger who comes into our midst.

More distantly, but still very importantly, it is fulfilled by supporting those political trends that make for sound government and reduced conflict. To say which these are may sometimes require the wisdom of Solomon, but one must do one's best.

I pray for all those, in whatever country, who are dying through the folly of these wars, all who are displaced and have no home, all who have had their minds shocked and torn by the horror they have seen, all who are orphaned or bereft. I do the little that I can to create some harbour of peace within this world and to inspire others to acts of service and minds of compassion. It is all too little, but one cannot say how far a wave will travel or who will be affected by one's words and deeds. Let us each play our part and have faith that the love that is put into the world continues to live even through the dark days.

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Replies to This Discussion

I totally agree......we are not separated so we have to analise more deeply what is happening in "our" world.

An area of policy where more could be done in Europe would be in improving the housing conditions and infrastructure in the ghetto areas around big cities where many people from the ME and N Africa end up living - areas with high unemployment rates and poor facilities where resentment tends to ferment. There is also something to be said for dispersing immigrants as was done with the influx of Ugandan Asians who came to UK fleeing the dictatorship of Idi Amin many years ago. This can be moderately effective in preventing ghettoes from forming in the first place. Immigrants need integrating and generally they are happy to accept integration if it is facilitated. When they first arrive they are grateful for almost anything but after years of feeling unwanted and discriminated against they - or their children - can too easily be swayed into wild actions because when they feel bitter and have little to lose. Most immigrants benefit the countries that they enter and those who turn to trouble making are the exception, but it does not take many such exceptions to create quite a lot of chaos.

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