Two phenomena stood out for me with regards to the attacks in Paris. The first being the immense capacity for the human being to love. The hatred of the attackers and their superiors was immeasurable, but countering that was the outstretching of intense love and kindness. People opened their homes to assist strangers, offered condolence, gave their blood to save the lives of those who were gravely injured. As I write the doctors and nurses will be lovingly working tirelessly and selflessly to save all of those hurt. In the months and years to come the friends, relatives, and colleagues of those directly affected will lovingly support them through this horrific trauma so that they can enjoy life again, be able to go out to a restaurant or concert without fear. We could look at the world and despair, but as long as love exists there is hope.
The second was the outcry on social media, and the wave of blue, white and red as the “world” stood in solidarity to show their outrage. In reality it of course not the entire planet who mourns for the ~129 deaths and the broken lives of the surviving witnesses. For there are many people too impoverished or trapped in a miserable existence to even be aware of what is happening outside their own country, city, town, village, dwelling, room.
As it happened in a Western capital city that normally experiences peace on a day-to-day basis, the shockwaves will be felt for a long time to come. Yet terrorist attacks happen all over the world, regularly, and I do not see long lasting waves of solidarity for victims in countries where it seems to be accepted that violence simply happens there. On the same day that the French capital was targeted, 19 people were killed, and 33 injured in Baghdad. Just the day before in Beirut an ISIL suicide bomber detonated a bike loaded with explosives and as onlookers gathered, another man detonated himself. Collectively, they killed 43 and injured 240. I do not see profile pictures washed with Lebanese or Iraqi flags, or people urging others to pray for those affected by those monstrous attacks. Throughout this year alone many have died brutally or been badly injured in Yemen, in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in Nigeria, in the Philippines etcetera yet their only seem to enter our consciousness for a fleeting period, their significance usurped as soon as something shocking happens closer to home or as soon as we become absorbed back into our own lives.