It’s been hard to be on social media for the past few days. There is so much discussion about the attacks in Paris and its devastating effects, but only trickles of discussion about the attacks in Lebanon that happened just the day before. Then there are the few discussions shaming those who attempt to point out the difference, as though we have only enough compassion for one group of people. These conversations go on and on and on, and it pushed me away. In a time of devastation and horror, who wants to read that other human beings that they know closely or peripherally believe that more guns could have saved Parisian lives? That the wave of refugees was obviously to blame? The same refugees who were trying to escape this type of violence that was sadly all too common in their lives. And then there people who cheer on Rob Lowe and Scott Baio’s nuggets which all but blame the refugees.
There were massive terrorist attacks only a few days apart, and the differential response and media coverage is shocking and sickening. Why? Is it that all Middle Eastern countries blend together? Or that violence in these non-Western countries is just expected? Is it that Brown lives matter less? Or that it just doesn’t affect us, and when Western lives are shaken, well that just hits closer to home. I’m genuinely asking why. It has to be a mix of the above.
I’ve had people tell me that you can’t be devastated by every sad thing that happens. I agree — it would be just too overwhelming. But the juxtaposition of these two terrorist attacks shows the divergent response we have to terrorism depending on where and whom it hits. Why then, when terror strikes in the Western world, do we immediately deplore the people who were running from the same terror? Why can we not see past our tragedy-born hate and recognize that the actions of a few deranged people does not define 1.8 billion Muslims? Why is the response not compassion for the people of France, Lebanon, and the refugees running from a homeland saturated with terror?
I am genuinely sad. Sad that we live in a world where safety is a privilege, sad that so many people are being mindless murdered for politics, sad that there is a differential response in lives lost, and sad that we have come to accept this level of violence as the new normal. But I’m also scared. I’m scared for people that look like me, with my skin color, who wear clothing that marks their cultural or religious backgrounds. I’m scared for the refugees who lost or left their homes to escape the terrorism that permeated their country.
Let us have global sympathy for Paris, for Lebanon, and for the refugees.