I thought I would share leadership guru Zoe Routh’s newsletter with you today. As a person who does speak up but has often has found themselves at the ‘point of no return’ I do admire people who can both speak up and drive change without burning their bridges.
Looking forward to getting that balance myself but then again
Why Don’t We Speak Up?
“What do you think, Zoë?”
Holy crap. This was it. I had to say something.
My colleague had just thrown me a bone in a meeting. He knew I was peeved about the contract and was quietly stewing in frustration.
And not saying anything.
It was only when he set me up directly that I sat up, and spoke up.
It wasn’t easy. I got emotional. Apparently I cared more than I thought. And I felt better for it afterwards.
Speaking the truth always feels better. Eventually.
So why don’t we speak up? Why do we keep quiet when we’ve got something to say? An opinion to express, an idea to share, a criticism to make, a concern to raise?
Here are some reasons I’ve found in my own life, and work with my clients:
We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.
We don’t want to rock the boat and risk our status in the group.
We’re afraid we’ll go past the point of no return and the unknown looms as a menacing void.
We’re afraid of the can of worms that might be unleashed, and we don’t like conflict.
We’re afraid we’ll be judged. Or rejected. Or hurt. Or dismissed.
In essence, we’re afraid of feeling bad.
So we shut down, shut up, and shrink.
And that’s the worst kind of feeling bad.
When we don’t speak our truth, our soul wilts a little, our heart grows a little more brittle, and the emotional pot goes on simmer.
Not speaking our truth is the worst kind of personal damage we can do to ourselves. It’s the deepest form of pain. So we numb it with alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, overwork, over exercise, food, or any other kind of distraction that keeps us from feeling into the depths of our inner world.
But when we do speak up, when we share what is going on in our heart, on the other side of the unknown mess that may ensue, we have a chance of a bigger horizon. We show ourselves and others that we matter, that we are worthy, that the stories we tell ourselves, even if they are wrong, matter. They matter because they help us connect better to ourselves and each other.
In Rising Strong, Brené Brown says, “I believe that vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”
The equation looks like this:
Truth – – – MESS – – – Feel better.
Speaking up is a leadership moment that matters. It can rattle cages, upset the apple cart, ruffle feathers, and every other metaphor for sh*tstorm, but speaking the truth is the song of the soul.
What helps is having a tether to our values and the willingness to walk in integrity. I have an intention that I want to model what I teach others, to embody what I know to be true, no matter how challenging.
So when my colleague looked to me and asked, “What do you think?” I took a deep breath, and spoke.
What calls you to speak the truth? What keeps you from speaking it? And what, if anything, will you change?
The Art4Agriculture team have created a complementary program model to The Archibull Prize that will allow us to roll the program out nationally. The students participating in the program will be investigating and reflecting on the theme
Feeding, Clothing and Powering a Hungry Nation is a shared responsibility
with the word ‘power’ referring to farmers potential to provide the community with renewable energy sources
So of course we needed a logo and I briefed the graphic designer who happens to be male and he comes back with
Okay so this was James stereotype of a farmer – love the bandy legs
Okay James farmers can be women too
So James sends me this
So girl farmers have bandy legs too !!!!!!
So then I said OK lets make it a partnership and James comes back with this
then we thought about it some more and we thought lets have the farmers on one side of the plug and people from the city on the other
So how should I brief James?
What does a stereotypical urbanite look like. Does he/she evoke images of super cool people with 9 to 5 corporate careers who surf after work and party on the weekends ??????
The sage minds on twitter have delivered me a solution – farmer Gus Whyte has proposed a salute to the middle man. I will ask James to replace the farmers with a tradie wearing hi viz. But still have the problem of sex and ethnicity
Farmers currently sit at No 8 in the most trusted profession list. This is because we are trusted to supply to supply Australian families with safe, affordable and nutritious food. Despite the obviously ill informed assurance of NSW Farmers natural resource committee chairman the 2016 Archibull Prize entry and exit survey results show it is a very different matter when it comes to animal welfare, the environment and water use. See footnote. The graph below also shows The Archibull Prize’s considerable ability to improve the image and perceptions of farmers in these three key areas A campaign that will see our best practice farmers image tarnished by the actions of the minority will make it very difficult for The Archibull Prize’s to make those considerable gains. Whilst I no longer farm my family still do and I put considerable personal funds into this program and I will not hesitate to ask those responsible for putting agriculture’s image at risk to be accountable
Josh Gilbert former chair of NSW Farmers Association Young Farming Council recently resigned his position as a result of personal threats from a senior non-staff member in NSW Farmers Association who threatened personal attacks if he spoke out against the NSW Native Vegetation Act proposed reforms. “I was told that if I was to come and speak out against (the reform), the people who already attack me would increase in number and increase (their efforts), including people in NSW Farmers. My interpretation was that it was a threat,” he said. Source
Josh is hopeful that partnerships between farmers, environmental groups, Indigenous Australians and consumers with a conscience can find a way through. I hope and pray our farmer organisations see the wisdom of this before it is too late
“Achieving sustainable land use for profitability and sustainability in the short and long term requires collaboration between farmers, environmental groups, Indigenous Australians and consumers with a conscience. Coming together through a shared love and appreciation of the value of land, the food and fibre it produces and our environment, we stand to create partnerships for the true long term prosperity of our nation. We can build on the 40,000 years of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and mutual respect for our delicate landscape to form fair, equitable and long term policy, not one which sacrifices future prosperity for short term ‘gains’”……..
Are we ready to truly partner and ensure the equality of agricultural reporting for long-term equity, justice, fairness and profitability? I believe the time for mutual collaboration and respect is now.
Below is Josh Gilbert’s recent opinion piece that has attracted considerable attention in the main stream media.
Farmers have a natural affinity with their land. The farm is the home of their family’s dreams and aspirations; the page upon which they write their stories of passion and love; their life; their livelihood; their heart.
From outside the farm gate the view is different. Consumers place large amounts of trust in the farmer to produce what they need and when they need it. However, as societal views shift around the governance and sustainability of corporations, so too does the interest in food production and animal welfare. Farmers are increasingly held accountable for their actions and asked not only to provide, but also to protect and care for the environment and animals that support the production of food.
Corporations and businesses paved the way for triple bottom line accounting practices, considering social, economic and environmental factors. Now, agricultural corporations and family farmers find themselves at a crossroads, pondering what practical accounting and social metrics should be developed specifically for the agricultural industries. This discussion is brought further to life over the proposed changes to the Native Vegetation Act in NSW, policy which intends to provide farmers with less red tape by allowing self-assessment regarding the flora and fauna on their property. Without full appreciation of the value of native vegetation, this policy risks not only the repetition of past errors, but also of trading long term profitability for short-sighted practices.
This controversial policy highlights the need for all to reconsider the interaction between the three areas of triple bottom line reporting – not only finance, social and environmental, but also the corporate social responsibility to apply them in the unique field of farming.
Times are changing and in this new world our society needs to shift its thoughts on this matter. Do we as society value pursuit of money over the longevity of social cohesion, the natural environment and our accountability to the public?
Kinship for the land is not just felt by farmers, but also by my Indigenous brothers and sisters and the broader environmental movement. With the desire to create fair, just and equitable policy regarding the natural environment, it is negligent that these voices have been hushed and ignored, often trumped in the public and political discussion by large farming organisations.
Other changes taking place are the partnerships that are being built where once there was nervousness and mistrust. Recent disputes over mining activity have seen farmers and environmental groups stand hand in hand, united in their desire to protect the land. This relationship though, is at risk as legitimate concerns from the environmental movement regarding native vegetation fall on deaf ears within farmer associations. Comparable policies within Australia have seen over 300,000 hectares of native vegetation ripped from the landscape in Queensland, despite industry best practice. Australia has also become number three for the worst land clearing rates amongst developed nations. And still, some industries continue to lobby for self-regulation in order to provide the opportunity for them to destroy our native landscapes.
We are at risk of losing prominent native vegetation in Australia. This also increases the risk of negative public perceptions increasing towards farmers. Recent experience demonstrates to us the cost of these negative perceptions. The live export debate questioned every farmer’s right to farm, and cost beef producers dearly in the short and long term, forcing some farmers to leave the industry. Similarly, the proposed ‘native vegetation policy’ lacks foresight and vision and further risks the brand of “Australian agriculture” and the livelihoods of our farming families and rural communities. The drive for farmers to increase their land value and productivity seems to focus only on a single ‘bottom line’ factor, and negates any public accountability and social and environmental responsibility farmer otherwise aspire to achieve.
There is hope though.
Achieving sustainable land use for profitability and sustainability in the short and long term requires collaboration between farmers, environmental groups, Indigenous Australians and consumers with a conscience. Coming together through a shared love and appreciation of the value of land, the food and fibre it produces and our environment, we stand to create partnerships for the true long term prosperity of our nation. We can build on the 40,000 years of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and mutual respect for our delicate landscape to form fair, equitable and long term policy, not one which sacrifices future prosperity for short term ‘gains’.
We each have a personal responsibility for not only our future, but also for the future of our descendants. Each day, we have the ability to encourage change, create hope and create equality. Our views on the environment, agriculture and our way of life should be treated no differently.
The challenge for us all is to lift our gaze beyond our current horizon. Money should not be the sole imperative. We need to focus on the long- term outlook and understand where our interests and connection to the broader society should lie. We must equally value the three pillars of triple bottom line accounting, while creating agricultural metrics showing mutual respect for the views of farmers, consumers and the environment.
Are we ready to truly partner and ensure the equality of agricultural reporting for long-term equity, justice, fairness and profitability? I believe the time for mutual collaboration and respect is now.
Flabbergasted that some farmers organisations continue to self assess consumer attitudes. After all this is not the first time consumer attitudes to farming have been surveyed. The Archibull Prize program 2015 survey reinforces Parberry and Wilkinson’s findings on Victorian’s attitudes to farming from 2013. Dairy Australia also find similar results in the survey they conduct
I like to throw this idea out there. Its us not them – we don’t get out enough – people DO love us. And whats even better I have the hard data to prove it
Why are Aussie farmers out of love?
Jan. 27, 2016, 9 a.m.Opinion
JUST what have Australian farmers done to be so disconnected from the broader community?
In other nations across the globe, people involved in the most fundamental industry of all, food production, are respected as the primary plank of a functioning society.
Yet here in Australia, broadacre farmers cop a bum steer in terms of community perception.
They are variously described as whinging farmers being propped up by hard working city folk or mercenaries ruthlessly jeopardising the health of a nation in search of additional profits through the administration of veritable witches’ brews of toxic chemicals.
As those living in rural communities know, nothing could be further from the truth, but these ill-informed ideas have a damaging effect on the Australian agriculture industry across a range of issues.
But why does the Australian urban public seem to have so little time for farmers?
You look at the US, a similar culture to our own, and the nation celebrates the importance of those who produce its food. Here, however, the disconnect between country and city means the majority of urban dwellers have no idea of the work and financial risk required to put food on the national table. Kaniva, Victoria, farmer Wal Meyer has an interesting theory on how farmers have lost the public relations battle. He believes that the very phenomenon that theoretically should have improved relations between mainstream farmers and the metro public has worked against it. The resurgence in interest in where food comes from, driven in part by Australia’s seemingly insatiable appetite for reality cooking shows, should have seen the public thanking the Australian farming community some of the safest food in the world.
Partially, we did see increased appreciation of the role of the farmer, but only a certain segment. The public latched onto key phrases such as ‘organic’ and ‘rare-breed’ raising small scale, niche market growers to the level of minor celebrities.
Well done to these guys and they are certainly making a go of their enterprises and producing some fantastic food in the process. But as Mr Meyer lamented, this success often comes at the expense of other farmers. “People keep talking about organic this and that, and saying how bad for you conventionally farmed food is, when the facts are, that all Australian food products pass through a rigorous screening process before it is declared safe to eat.”
Another issue for those interested in environmental issues is whether organic farming is more sustainable than systems using herbicides. Certainly, it is a nice warm and fuzzy feeling to know no chemicals have been used, but the situation is not so cut and dried. Organic grain production systems rely heavily on tillage, which in turn creates problems with erosion and salinity.
As the crop protection lobby argues (of course with its own interests to the fore) it is likely that judicious use of herbicides and synthetic fertilisers may be better for the planet as a whole. But perception is all, and at present conventional farmers and livestock producers are often pigeon holed as ‘factory farmers’ without a proper analysis of their methodology.
Farmers cop a similar bad rap when it comes to the processed foods that land on consumers’ tables. There is no doubt artificial preservatives and colourings are best to be avoided, as any parent of a child who has partaken in too much red cordial will attest, but nutritional issues with food on the supermarket shelves owe more to the manufacturing process than to the raw food the food processing sector is provided with.
Advocacy groups are out there arguing agriculture’s case, you see the Grains Legume Nutrition Council promoting healthy grain products and agriculture as a whole must continue to invest in these initiatives that bridge the gap between producer and consumer. Only then will we see a similar level of respect afforded to our primary producers as in other nations.
Its time to listen to the stats and get off the couch and get some sunshine, avoid the selective hearing trap and talk to people and actually listen- its amazing what we might find and I can assure you it will be good for the soul
‘When did we last see a peak representative body deliberately and strategically reach out to its perceived opponents, seek to understand their position fully, and commit to work together to find a way through? ‘ Professor Andrew Campbell Source
Let’s have a look at how Leadership Experts in the US are reflecting on leadership selection after yesterday’s “political marriage” in hell. In this case Will Marre
About this time in most political campaigns a majority of voters begin to look at who is running and say, “Is this the best we can do?” Seriously, out of 335 million citizens, are the people up on stage really the most qualified candidates to lead the most powerful nation in the world? Are you kidding me?
There are many reasons why the most qualified people don’t ever end up running for President or even leading major business organizations. But I believe the root cause is our collective judgment falling under the hypnotic trance of leadership stereotypes.
Harvard Research reported that the book Compelling People confirms that our “fast brains” prefer leaders who are assertive, competitive, decisive and tough. Our superficial thinking is that these leaders will protect us. The problem is our “fast brains” are quite stupid. Our quick judgments are primarily ruled by primitive emotions and ingrained prejudices that lead us to foolish opinions. Our smart brain needs to take time to analyze facts, test claims and exercise wisdom. However, using our smart brain takes a lot of time and energy that we mostly exhaust getting through our daily lives leaving us vulnerable to bad judgment and emotional bias when it comes to choosing leaders. This is a problem. A big one.
Our bias for mistaking confidence and competitiveness for leadership starts at a very early age. A brand new research report from Harvard graduate school of education, “Leaning Out,” confirms that by high school 40% of boys and even 23% of girls believe that male political leaders are more effective than females. Both male and female teenagers prefer males on the student council. Even a majority of moms of teenage girls believe that boys are more effective student body officers. What?
The root of our problem is that most of us don’t understand the science of leadership. In fact most people may not know that effective leadership has become testable science. It has. For instance if we agree that excellent business leaders should be able to:
create and produce profitable products and services that improve the quality of life of customers;
inspire and motivate employees to consistently perform their jobs extraordinarily well;
consistently produce profits (once the company is beyond the startup phase) and;
conduct business in a socially responsible manner that produces benefits to communities and minimizes or eliminates harm to the environment;
then we can identify leadership factors that actually produce those results. And we have.
Our problem is that neither our business schools nor Wall Street fully agree that these four worthwhile goals of business leadership really matter. Instead they focus on things like competitive dominance and financial results. This leads companies like Volkswagen to pay their engineers to fool regulators instead of coming up with brilliant technology. It’s what led GE’s Jack Welch to spend two decades paying fines to the EPA rather than cleaning their toxic waste out of the Hudson River. It’s what enables the financial pirates known as investment bankers, who caused the needless suffering of the last recession, to pay fines but escape jail.
Likewise in politics, too many of us seem to like puffed-up roosters bellowing about going to war, building walls and solving complex problems through the shear force of their will. It is natural for us to wish the world be simpler than it is. But this wish makes it easy for really strong sounding leaders to promise to deliver what we emotionally wish were true. It’s simple. When we feel overwhelmed we are easily suckered.
Strong but stupid leadership has created the world we currently live in. In the 1990s we thought all war was over and perpetual prosperity could be engineered by Alan Greenspan. Instead we have begun to recycle the geopolitical problems of the last thousand years and the ugliness of the unrestrained self-interest of the Gilded Age of 100 years ago. And we will continue to recycle our problems at even more extreme levels unless we understand the leadership qualities that will produce a world that works for everyone.
The actual science of leadership is based on a meta-analysis of what creates sustainable abundance confirms this:
Hard power, which is characterized by competitiveness, aggressiveness, decisiveness, single-mindedness and self-interest, is primarily effective at achieving short-term, easy-to-measure goals. This isn’t to say it’s useless, only to say it is an inadequate way to run a complex organization or the most powerful country on earth.
Soft power, which is characterized by collaboration, teamwork, empathy and systems thinking, works well in complex environments where knowledge and information is widely distributed. However, organizations led only by soft power tend to be indecisive, slow and uncompetitive.
The answer of course is the synthesis between hard and soft power. It is the third way. It capitalizes on the goal-focus of hard power and social intelligence of soft power. Is the basis for something I called gender synergy. It’s no secret that most males favor hard power and most females exhibit soft power strengths. We need both.
The challenge we face is that we need to raise the new generation of SMART Power leaders pronto. The world economy continues to shake, new kinds of wars and medieval violence assault our peace, and businesses exhaust their employees, exploit the environment and fail all too quickly in the face of agile competitors.
Of course both men and women can learn the skills of SMART Power. I am focusing on developing women leaders because women are listening. Brand-new research reported in the book Broad Influence confirms that when any leadership group, whether it’s top executives, Boards of Directors or the U.S. Senate, reaches a critical mass of between 20% and 30% women, the group becomes much more effective in achieving its goals. This phenomenon is being repeated all over the world. I believe more women in leadership is the most powerful trend that will revolutionize our future and get us out of the spin cycle created by the leaders who are currently in charge.
We need to celebrate it and accelerate it. You can help by calling out bad leadership. You can put the name “hard power” on shortsighted, blindly aggressive leaders. You can support socially intelligent, soft power leaders by helping them become SMART using the tools of goal setting and accountability. You can change the future right now, right where you are.
As soon as you pass through the magnificent avenue of trees at Gundowringa at Crookwell you realise you have arrived at a farm steeped in heritage
Charlie Prell inspired by the visionaries who came before him
On your left is the 160-year-old woolshed that in its heyday accommodated 16,000 sheep and the stone shearer’s quarters built in 1916
Today it sleeps up to 18 to supplement the farm’s income through fly fishing and farmstay opportunities
On your right is a stone cottage of the same era and to the right of the stone cottage stands the pavilion that once overlooked the cricket oval
But the pièce de résistance is the homestead. Everything else is a reminder of when the country rode on the sheep’s back. The homestead underpins why the family is so committed to making farming work for them and the generations to come in the 21st Century
Gundowringa Homestead was built by Chas E Prell in 1905 out of basalt and granite and roof tiles that were used as ballast on ships doing the round trip from UK to Australia
Chas E Prell – the first of 5 generations of the Prell family on Gundowringa
The gardens were laid out while the house was being built. There are some very impressive large trees, some now over 100 years old. Including what is believed to be the oldest and largest Linden grown in this country. Other breathtaking species include an evergreen example of the liquid amber family the Liquidamber festerii
It was the rose garden and the horizontal elm, with the flattened canopy designed to allow you to walk under that caught my eye.
The house has maid’s quarters and when first built visitors were greeted at the door by a butler. At the height of the wool boom the property supported thirty jobs
The homestead was adapted to use as farmstay accommodation in 2000 by Charlie’s parents Jeff and Jess Prell until Jess death in 2008
Jeff Prell – a man with every right to be proud of what his family has achieved and the perfect host to share his family heritage past
Jeff has found love again and married local artist Margaret Shepherd whose studio and artworks bring a new vibrancy to the homestead
The current generation have a lot to inspire them and inspired they are. Inspired to adapt and move with the times. Inspired to respect the landscape and work in partnership with it
Jeff and Charlie Prell marching into the future
Like his great grandfather and his namesake Charlie Prell knows that pioneers who advocate and help drive change are often initially perceived as being radical in the extreme particularly by people entrenched in the past
Charlie Prell – a bright future relies on innovation and making the most of the ssets you have
What we often forget is what traditionally sets people like Charlie and his great grandfather apart is their commitment to the greater good. Charlie Prell has leased part of Gundowringa to a company who will install a wind farm. He is also helping farmers across Australia find alternate fresh income streams from renewable energy technology.
The site of the future Gundowringa Windfarm
Charlie is using part of his new stream of passive income to reinvigorate and drought proof the farm and embrace the opportunities that the combination of the diverse income streams of renewable energy, tourism and food and fibre production offer to sustaining generations of Prell family members as long as they wish to remain there.
Nobody will ever be able to say that Charlie Prell is a victim of the disconnect between reality of the vargaries of farming and the idealism of the view that food and fibre production alone will keep Australian farming families in business for the long haul in the 21st Century
Today it’s hard to believe that the now acknowledged visionary Chas E Prell the man who epitomised the “producing more with less’ ethos and pioneered pasture improvement utilising superphosphate fertiliser was in his time considered a maverick who didn’t follow convention. Its a reminder that its important not to forget the past. What’s even more important is to learn from it.
I recently heard some-one say the jobs available in ten years’ time to young people currently in primary school wont have been heard of today. My greatest hope is that agriculture becomes a visionary in learning from its past and embracing the opportunities a partnership between farmers and nature offers
When I was a girl and that was a long time ago I learnt in school the biggest threat to the world was extremism and the conflict in the middle east . Yet did we study this at school??? No way that would be too close to common sense. I live to learn and grow and as a person who is part of a team sending two very special young people to Paris this week I am reading avidly in a effort to help play my role at home.
What are your thoughts has Japan got it right? How do we cut off the terrorists oxygen with as little impact on human life and the planet as possible?
I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did
The terrorist attacks in Paris have resonated around the world. In addition to physical violence, Islamic State (IS) is pursuing a strategy of socially mediated terrorism. The symbolic responses of its opponents can be predicted and may inadvertently further its aims.
In the emotion of the moment, we need to act. We need to be cautious, however, of symbolic reactions that divide Muslims and non-Muslims. We need emblems that act against the xenophobia that is a recruiting tool for jihadists.
Reactions from the West should not erode the Muslim leadership that is essential to overturning “Islamic State”. Queen Rania of Jordan points out:
What the extremists want is to divide our world along fault lines of religion and culture, and so a lot of people in the West may have stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims. But really this fight is a fight between the civilised world and a bunch of crazy people who want to take us back to medieval times. Once we see it that way, we realise that this is about all of us coming together to defend our way of life.
Queen Rania’s statement characterises the Paris attacks as part of a wider conflict around cultural values. How are these values playing out symbolically across the globe?
Propaganda seeks predictable responses
IS’s socially mediated propaganda is sophisticated and planned. This supports an argument that the Paris attacks are the beginning of a global campaign. Symbolic materials characterise IS as invincible. However, other evidence may indicate that it is weak.
This planning is embedded in professionally designed images. A reworked image depicts the Eiffel Tower as a triumphal arch with the IS flag flying victoriously on top.
The tower is illuminated and points to the heavens and a God-given victory. The inclusion of a road running through the Eiffel Tower provides a sense of speed, change, even progress. In Arabic, the text states, “We are coming, France” and “The state of Khilafa”.
IS is using symbolic representations of the Paris attacks to garner new recruits.
A sophisticated pre-prepared image of an intrepid fighter walking away from a Paris engulfed in flames was quickly distributed. It is inscribed with the word “France under fire” in Arabic and French.
This image keys into the heroic tropes of online video gaming, such as prototype and inFAMOUS. Chillingly, it is designed to turn virtual warriors into actual warriors.
The five million young Muslims in France are particular targets. Among online recruitment materials are videos calling them to join other young French nationals who are with IS.
Support for the victims in Paris and for the democratic values of liberty, equality and fraternity are embedded in the blue, white and red lights movement. These lights shone in major cities in the US, Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan and South America. The blue, white and red lights also were displayed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia.
However, the light displays were seen in few countries with Muslim majorities overall. Such countries are in an invidious position. Display the lights and you may be characterized as a lackey of the West. Don’t display the lights and appear unsympathetic to the victims.
Support also is embedded in a parallel Facebook function that allows members to activate a tri-colour filter. Adapted from a rainbow filter used to support same-sex marriage, this filter attracts those with liberal sentiments.
The question of whether to use the French flag to show sympathy for the victims is invidious at a personal level. Many people find themselves exploited and condemned to poverty by neoliberal economic models. They are put in a difficult position. They feel sympathy for the victims. However, they are bitter about how they are being treated by “the West”, including France.
Perils of an ‘us and them’ mindset
As the blue, white and red activism plays out around the globe, there is a potential for this to transform into a symbolic manifestation of an “us and them” mentality. Such a division would support xenophobic forces, which steer recruits towards IS.
The global impact of the attacks can be related to the iconic status of Paris. The attacks hold a personal dimension for millions of people who have visited this city. They have a sense of “there but for the grace of God, go I”. This emotion echoes responses to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.
The Japanese and Italian cafes included in the attacks are symbolic targets for their countries. In March 2015, IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnan stated that the group would attack “Paris, before Rome”. Rome is a target because of its symbolic role as the centre of Christianity. Japan is a target because of its role in coalition forces. It has already suffered the execution of Japanese hostages early in 2015.
In Japan, the cultural reaction has been relatively low key, as part of a strategy of minimising terrorist attention. The blue, white and red lights solidarity received minimal press coverage. There have been few reports of the Japanese restaurant that was one of the targets. In addition to factual coverage of the attacks, Japanese reports have concentrated on implications for security at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Are there any symbols indicating good news? The Syrian passport found near the body of one of the attackers could be a sign of weakness. It could have been “planted” there – why carry a passport on a suicide mission?
In our responses to the Paris attacks, the grief of the West should not be allowed to overshadow the opprobrium of Muslim countries. Muslims are best placed to challenge the Islamic identity of this self-declared state.
As Queen Rania states, the war against IS must be led by Muslims and Arabs. To ensure success, the international community needs to support, not lead, Muslim efforts.