I’m watching a short clip filmed by someone in the tragic massacre in Kenya. In the attack, everyone is either standing still, dunking down whilst slowly moving away and just an odd few are running around. The gunshots are clearly heard in the vicinity, the terror transcends the screen of my computer.
How would I react if I was in the middle of a terrorist attack like the one happening in Kenya? I would run, stupidly, creating havoc amongst other panicked people. More injuries to victims would be the result of people stepping over each other and pushing each other away in an attempt to run, in a country where guns are a rarity.
I’ve only heard gun shots in ceremonial activities, shot in the air to commemorate a certain event. I’ve only seen a gun near me on a few occasions on a short trip to Nigeria, but other than that, guns have a virtual characteristic for me, associated with series, movies and tragic news. Being able to distinguish reality from movie, the ‘would I do if I was in that situation’ type of question never crossed my mind when watching people getting shot or characters firing guns in movies. But this particular video is so strong that it made me ask myself that and the answer I’ve given myself makes me ask myself another question: how safe am I because I’ve been safe so far?
I have a phobia of guns, tried and tested when I had a gun in my vicinity on a trip abroad and that means I’ll be running away from settling in a place that nurtures gun ownership, but that doesn’t mean I’ll forever be safe from the risk of being in the middle of a gun crime type of situation. Those people in the video in Kenya have reacted so well to the whole setting and it is safe to say that their extended experience of violence within the country has helped them survive the terrorist attack.
The pragmatic (and sad) reality is that a lack of safety is nowadays extended to the entire world, and, irrespective of the location in which one finds himself, one can be exposed to unprecedented dangers. There is so much hate in the world, so many vendettas between this group and the other based on one’s religious beliefs, nationality, race etc. And there are just as many people who pledge for world peace.
However, the world is going in the exact opposite direction of peace. And one thing that I’ve learned today is that you’re more prone to surviving if your skin has been roughened by living in an unsafe area. And this epiphany is not important only to me, but it is important to the whole world, because Angelina Jolie, although touching, should not be the one who holds speeches about the importance of refugees to the world on a whole. It is people like Malala whose gun wounds are yet to be fully healed and whose pain is still so visible in her eyes and most of all, in her words. She knows how to duck down for cover and she knows how to tell others to do the same. She would have known if she was in the attack mentioned at the beginning how to react and she would have had the confidence to direct others. A pledge for peace should come from the ones that don’t know what peace looks like apart from stories told by others.
And today, I sit here and I think that I’ve been spoilt in my safe haven and I can’t see the danger through the lenses of someone like Malala, but I can do my best to broadcast my view that people like her should speak up, and I (and other fortunate ones like me) should bow my head down and listen to her and follow her anywhere she leads me. Because she will lead us on paths of peace.
As she said: ‘We’re tired of these wars.’ And it sounded so real because it is her war, every single day.