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Monday, May 23, 2022

After Manchester: the word is mightier than the bomb

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Since governments seem to be at a loss for a solution to the problem, I think there is a need for a people-based movement to work against terror. This war will be fought not with bombs but with words; and if you doubt the power of words then you have not read history; it is only words that have made the big difference when the world seemed to be on the brink of catastrophe.


“The only thing you need to fear is fear itself” were the tools FDR used to wrench America, and hence the world, out of the great depression.

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“I have a dream…” metamorphosed into “Yes we Can!” and the son of former slaves became the ‘slave master’.

In The Gambia, a two-decade dictatorship that claimed a God-given billion-year mandate was halted, December 1, 2016; an impasse resulted as the whole world beamed their lenses on one of the smallest countries in the world; as the world looked on and hesitated, Gambians mobilized themselves across political, tribal and religious divides and created a whole people’s movement around a simple hash tag #TheGambiaHasDecided, and the 800 pound gorilla in the room, was sent packing, without a shot being fired.

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Before that, the Senegalese came up with Yen a Marre, and kicked out master strategist Abdoulie Wade and his team.

When bullets hit France in her bosom, the whole world rallied with force bigger and better, words: Je Suis Charlie…


Nelson Mandela as imprisoned, he had no weapon to fight the oppressors; but he knew some good words and freed himself with “Invictus”. Another prisoner was jailed in China; Rittenberg did not yield to pain or be embittered by the terror of oppression. He remembered some good words (from the poem, Outwitted) and became free: “They drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win, We drew a circle that took them in!”


We have tried bombs, walls, and missiles, yet terror still assaults the world unabated. We need to come together on a different platform to confront this monster. All people of faith, I mean decent people of all authentic religious persuasion, abhor terror. We need to create platforms and harness synergies to turn the tide away from terror towards peace, love and harmony.


It is not going to be a sprint, it need not be; it is sure to be a marathon, but the journey would certainly be worth the while at the end of the race. Let the journey begin now!


Let the platforms for authentic conversations kick off with the winds of courage and resilience blowing from the hills of Manchester and sweeping the world all over.


We can and we should win this struggle for a peaceful, loving world. In the Holy Scriptures, the defining moment was the command from God with the Word “Be” and then it became…
In the Qur’an, Allah tells us that Jesus is His word.


So do not underestimate the power of words; the good word has always been the ultimate weapon against tyranny, oppression, and depression of all shades and colour. Let us speak, write, and recite the good word for peace, tolerance and resilience.


The Manchester victims may be gone, but they have left us with an ethos, well captured by Tony Walsh:


And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. That Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create and Greater Manchester’s greatness is keeping it great.

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