This escalates quickly...
Do you want the good news or bad news first?
This is a question that’s presumably been around for ages, and for good reason — the answer says a lot about a person.
Me? I’ll take the bad news every time. The same way that I’ll eat my least favorite foods first and wait an hour for a set on a pumping swell.
I prefer starting low and attaining something positive down the line to a fleeting moment of happiness followed shortly by despair. The promise of upward momentum puts my mind at ease.
But for the sake of this article, I’m going to defy my personal preference. I’ll deliver the good news about Indonesia first, followed by the very bad news, because it’s important to my message.
The good news: Indo has been bombing!
Indonesia was recently pegged with a colorful blob and the islands jumped for joy. Sumbawa, Lombok, Bali, Java, Sumatra and every little reef pass in between went ballistic for three days straight. Below is a clip from Nias — one of the better zones from the swell.
So that happened over a week ago, but waves continue to batter the archipelago from a series of Southern Ocean lows. Speaking of which, how’s this triple-up headed that way next week? Book your tickets, Aussie friends!
Or maybe don’t. Because, well…
The bad news: Indonesia, specifically its capital Jakarta, was the site of a terrorist attack yesterday evening. Two suicide bombers, three cops dead, a number of civilians injured, and widespread panic is what most reports are stating.
According to 9 News Perth, officials are warning people in high tourist areas, especially Kuta and Seminyak in Bali, to be extremely cautious at this time. “The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued an updated travel warning, reminding holiday visitors to be vigilant,” the report says.
And dammit, this is a tricky one. Not the Indo event specifically, but the whole Islam/terrorist thing.
First of all, I feel it’s pointless to waste your time worrying about being hit by an attack. Much like with sharks, if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. Of course there are things you can do to lessen your odds of becoming a victim, like avoiding high risk areas (major cities/Reunion Island/Ariana Grande concerts/SoCal), but at the end of the day you can’t let fear handicap the most enjoyable parts of your life.
The more I think about it, the more connections I see between terrorist organizations and sharks.
For instance, there’s a group (conservatives) who want to destroy them at all costs. It’s somewhat noble, in the sense that they’re trying to protect “innocent” lives, but the means of achieving their goals are often shortsighted, inhumane, or downright impossible (how many sharks are you going to kill, and what happens if you do fuck up the food chain? How do you defeat terrorism, when the very act of bombing people in these regions only multiplies their number of adherents?)
Then there’s the other side (liberals). They find it repugnant to cast blame on Muslims or sharks but totally acceptable to cast blame on those who cast blame on Muslims or sharks. They don’t have any real answers, other than the cold, hard fact that they retain the moral high ground on any and all issues. In their eyes, doing nothing is often better than doing something drastic. (Don’t kill sharks, don’t bomb the Middle East/blame Islam, because it’s “immoral” and the repercussions could be worse than the issues at hand.)
Then there’s the concept of what a “terrorist” even is.
I once took a class on terrorism (in Australia, no less!) that opened my eyes to the concept of perspective. It made me reconsider several truths that I once held self-evident.
For instance, is an ISIS member a terrorist because he beheads American POWs or makes a bomb out of himself, with hopes of taking civilians’ lives along with his own? Is a shark a terrorist because it occasionally eats people?
The easy answer, the most emotionally-charged answer, is yes. Their disregard for our western values/aquatic playtime is unjustifiable, their murderous tendencies inhumane.
But let’s take a second to really think about it.
Imagine you were (like me) born in 1993, but instead of suburban Pennsylvania you were raised in bumblefuck Afghanistan. At the age of eight, your country was bombed and ransacked by the West as a result of the 9/11 attacks — an atrocity perpetrated by exactly zero Afghan pilots. For years you watched these Western nations bomb your home, take over your villages, and disrupt your political system. Innocent friends and family killed in the pursuit of “justice”.
So, assuming that you come from a group the West deemed as unscrupulous and were treated as such, are you a terrorist for fighting back against the intruders in any way possible? Even if it means killing innocent people to strike fear in the Western world — the only means of power you really have?
Put yourself in that position. Feel the bomb-blown sand in your eyes, hair, teeth. The stillness of a once-familiar corpse at your feet. How would you react?
I’m not saying you’d be right to retaliate, but how can someone take the definitive stance that you’d be wrong for aligning with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or even ISIS? That you’re bloody pissed at what the West has done to your people, your home?
This is one mediocre example of a simple, if under-appreciated sentiment: terrorism is in the eye of the victim. To many Middle Easterners, we’re saviors. To others, we’re the terrorists.
You can argue that our intentions are more noble or our means more moral than the ISISes of the world, but they probably feel just as justified in their own minds. A man in the sky told them so.
In essence, we’re killing over ideologies (and oil), they’re killing over ideologies. The idea that the West maintains a monopoly over “legitimate” violence is ludicrous.
Now, sharks are slightly different because, well, they’re not human. Sad as it may be, I can’t justify giving sharks equal and empathetical treatment to a person. Even a member of a “terrorist” organization. Darwin’s rules, not mine.
That said, I do care about the ecosystem and sharks’ role in it. If a few people gotta die to maintain the balance of the ocean, that’s cool with me. If we can kill a few sharks (and save people) without affecting the overall ecosystem, I’m cool with that too.
The problem is, it’s difficult to achieve objective scientific answers for these types of questions. Much like it’s difficult to discern the effects of “terrorist” eradication.
Anyways, have fun in Indo!