The world has seen a a series of tragedies over the past couple of days.
Paris was attacked on Friday, in multiple locations all at roughly the same time. The latest news sources state that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for these attacks. The most recent death toll reaches 123 deaths and over 300 injuries.
On Thursday the 12th dozens were killed in Beirut, Lebanon by a double suicide bombing.
Also on the 13th, close to twenty people were killed at a funeral in Baghdad by suicide bombers.
Thanks to social media, the whole of the world became suddenly aware of all of these tragedies as they were happening and news and reactions have spread quickly.
President Obama speaks on Paris attacks: “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism….We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share. And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.”
People are calling for a global time of mourning, for retaliation, and for world leaders to step up their actions against IS.
Last night, I heard about the attacks on Paris while I was at dinner. Throughout the rest of the night, I stayed up to date on the news coming from the attacks, and I was horrified to see how it expanded and grew and the death toll rose as the night went on.
I checked to see that one of my classmates currently studying abroad and spending the weekend in Berlin was safe. He is.
I sent messages to two foreign exchange students my family had hosted from France a couple summers ago- both are safe.
I went to bed. I got up and came to work this morning and have periodically been checking back to see if there have been any updates. I read stories on tumblr of users who are in Paris at the moment experiencing the crisis as it is happening and doing their best to use the Internet to let people know they are safe, to make sure their friends and families are still alive, and to let the rest of the world know what’s happening.
Technology has an amazing way of making the world feel so much smaller than it used to be. In an instant, we can be aware of events happening on the other side of the globe. In the course of a night, the Internet can become a storm of news reports and people offering condolences, shelter, and prayer in thousands of different languages all across the globe.
And yet it is still hard to remind myself that the events I’m hearing about are real. From my place on the other side of the globe I see only the ripples of such events. The tragedies seem incredibly distant, even as I hear about them more and more, especially those surrounding the IS.
Is is even right for me to say I mourn for those in Paris, in Baghdad, in Lebanon? Do I have any idea what an attack like that does to a person, to their homes, to their entire way of life? No, I know that I have no idea.
But I find that I cannot react any other way. I do not know the people involved in these events and I probably never will, but that doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to a loss of human life. Whether I knew them or not, the loss is still real and it will remain in my thoughts nonetheless.
The world must react, yes. ISIS and the other terrorist groups responsible for these attacks seem to be growing stronger every day, and the possibilities that go along with that are terrifying to say the least.
But I am no world leader. I have no power to change policies, to order armies, or to send millions of dollars to foreign governments in hopes that it will be used to provide aid to those who were hurt. And I refuse to be one of the people who uses the tragedies occurring all over the world to further my own opinions on political issues. (See this article from the New York Times on the subject).
And maybe that’s why this response by a tumblr account has connected with me so well. Read it. And Pray for not just Paris but all the places in the world where tragedy reigns on a daily basis. I know this is a downer of a post, but it didn’t feel right to talk about anything else until I addressed this properly. Thank you for listening. I’ll see you all on Thursday.
(Written on Saturday 11/14- sorry if things have been updated since then and something in here is no longer correct, I’ll try to make sure it’s all still relevant before I post)