There is a painful, yet comforting beauty in watching as the world lights up red, white and blue in remembrance of the 129 confirmed dead in Paris on Friday as a result of mass shootings and bombings attributed to ISIS. Iconic landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to the London Eye to the walls of Jerusalem’s old city illuminated the colors of the French flag in solidarity with France and the lives tragically lost due to these attacks of terror.
It is in these moments of either celebration or tragedy that we see people come together and disregard the superficialities of everyday life to stand in unanimity for other human beings – a movement which has become so amplified due to the world’s enormous online social presence. Within moments of the suicide bombings in France; every media outlet in the world turned their cameras to Paris, and #prayforParis became a viral trend — reaching almost six million posts on Instagram and even more on Twitter. Immediately, Facebook flooded with Parisians marking themselves as “safe” as the rest of the world put the French flag over their profile picture to show their support. We are truly so privileged to live in a world in which we are able to express our desolation merely by clicking a few buttons on a computer screen.
But who is there to sympathize with the ones who can’t mark themselves as safe or put a filter on their profile picture because they lack access to a reliable source of electricity? Who is there to sympathize with the ones who are unable to light up their national buildings because they were destroyed in drone attacks?
While the Western world sheds a tear for Paris and swallows a taste senseless, cold, cruel violence — we forget that in Palestine, in Syria, in Mynamar, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Lebanon– this is their everyday life. Just the day before the Paris attacks 43 people were killed and 243 wounded from suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. In the month of October, 77 were killed in Palestine, back in April 147 people were killed in Garissa — I could go on and on with a list of recent piteous acts of terror but my goal is not to create a comprehensive list of the world’s fatalities so much as attempt to highlight the fact that the Western world is far more inclined to selectively mourn for developed, primarily white, primarily Christian countries because it is far easier to sympathize with the people who you understand rather than the mother who walks three miles with a five gallon bucket of water on her head so that her children may have something to drink. It is easier for the West to sympathize with someone who lost their life on the way to a local cafe during their lunch break than sympathize with the person who lost their life in an acid attack for trying to make it to school one morning. We mourn one tragedy while remaining ignorant about the others because the rest of the world does too- because the unfortunate reality is that one tragedy is trendy to mourn, and the other is not.
If you mourn for Paris but do not mourn for Beirut, do you really mourn for the loss of humanity? Why is it that the value of one human life can be comparable to another? As if humanity is an open market and humans have price tags sewn into their backs. Why is it that because one tragedy is glamorized with a social media trend and pretty lights, it is deemed as more significant, more heart-rending than another?
In reality, murder is far from glamorous, terrorism is far from fashionable. Changing your profile picture for Paris, but not speaking out about the senseless violence in the developing world is an illustration of the vanity of the morals we want others to see that we have. This social media trend shouldn’t be used as a tool to validate yourself to others as a good person — if you put up a status praying for those in Paris, I expect a status praying for the unfathomable number of people who are currently living their life in fear because of this attack committed in the name of their religion, the ones scared of leaving their front door in the morning because they feel the need to wear a flashing sign that says to the world “I am not a terrorist” for their own personal safety. We’re quick to attribute these kinds of incidents to a certain race, a certain religion, a certain group of people — but the truth is, terrorism has no religion, no race or culture — it is a faceless, senseless act by individuals who falsely take the facade of a moral crusade to justify themselves and mask the reality that they are truly just blood-thirsty, perturbed individuals looking to wreak havoc on any and all -my heart goes out to all of those affected. #PrayforHumanity.